Wild-caught Southern Resident Orca Lolita’s life at the Miami Seaquarium[/caption]
A vet once advised me to be cautious in naming horses, and to choose anything except what I didn’t want the horse to be – names like “buck”, “striker”, or “renegade” for instance. He pointed out that if a horse was named for a bad habit, then you are reminded of that every time you say the name; not a good idea if your horse has a tendency to buck you off to name him “buck”.
When it comes to whales, amusement parks either get one name and stick with it, replacing dead whales with new ones and keeping the name (aka “Shamu” at SeaWorld) or in the case of the Miami Seaquarium choosing a sleazy and inappropriate moniker such as “Lolita”.
Back when “Lolita” the captive orca was torn from her family in a violent and brutal capture, she was initially named “Tokitae”, a Native American Coast Salish greeting meaning “Nice day, pretty colors”…nice day? For whom?
Yet as ironic a choice as that was at least it had a positive spin, and maybe “Lolita’s” life would have turned out differently had people everywhere been wishing her a nice day when they said her name. Like wishing a prisoner a ‘nice day’, the next thing you think about is “like that is going to happen”.
But instead the amusement park that owns her decided to change her name to the sexy and precocious “Lolita”, in honor of a story character. A story character, who by the way, represents the tawdry way young girls are victimized in this world, a world where a child’s innocence is short enough, and too often violated.
When “Lolita” was taken from her family she was still a child in human terms; orcas grow and develop in a way that is remarkably parallel to our own, so at four years old, she was basically emotionally and physically the same as our own children at that age.
The final irony is that “Lolita” means “little sorrowful one”. How appropriate.
Means “sorrows”, taken from the Spanish title of the Virgin Mary María de los Dolores, meaning “Mary of Sorrows”. It has been used in the English-speaking world since the 19th century, becoming especially popular in America during the 1920s and 30s.