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Remembering Hugo (Tribute)

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Postcard featuring Hugo via Murphy Bros. Press, Inc.

In remembrance of Hugo, former tank mate of Tokitae (“Lolita”).

Hugo was a Southern Resident killer whale who died in captivity on March 4, 1980.

February 1968 - Hugo was taken from his family in Vaughn Bay, near Puget Sound, Washington. He spent the first two years of captivity isolated in a small enclosure (manatee pool) at Miami Seaquarium [Florida], while a new tank was being constructed.

August 8, 1970 - A Southern Resident killer whale named Tokitae (“Lolita”) was taken from her family in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, Washington. She arrived at Miami Seaquarium on September 24, 1970. Hugo was eventually moved into Tokitae’s tank (which had been completed shortly before her arrival).

Hugo and Tokitae spent ten years together - forced to perform and share the same cramped space. Hugo repeatedly rammed his head against the walls of the tank until he caused the fatal brain aneurysm that ended his life on March 4, 1980. He endured twelve years of captivity, pain, and heart-ache. Tokitae remains in that same tank today.

From our co-founder Peggy Oki: “𝘞𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦, 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘱𝘰𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘤 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘰𝘳. 𝘏𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳, 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘯 𝘖𝘳𝘤𝘢’𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯, 𝘯𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘹 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘢 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯’𝘴, 𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘤𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘴 𝘏𝘶𝘨𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘛𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘦’𝘴 𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘶𝘯𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵. 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸.”

Both Hugo and Tokitae’s stories are filled with immense suffering.

While we remember Hugo, we ask you to use your voice for captive cetaceans. If you’re in the U.S. you can write to your Representatives and request that they co-sponsor the SWIMS Act (we’ve provided a sample letter, info, etc). Please call, write, and sign on behalf of captive and wild cetaceans. Dive into our ‘Take Action’ page to get started!

May we do everything in our power to see the day when all cetaceans (dolphins, whales, & porpoises) are protected in their ocean world, wild and free.

From 'Orca Network' - “Hugo was from Lolita’s clan, the Southern Resident community, but no one knew that at the time. For the first several weeks Hugo was kept in the present manatee tank, about a hundred yards away from Tokitae, because the park managers assumed they would fight. They called constantly to each other with their siren-like calls across the park grounds. Over the next ten years Hugo banged his head against the walls of his tank on many occasions, once slicing the tip of his rostrum off when he broke the thick glass of the viewing window. Veterinarian Jesse White sewed Hugo’s severed rostrum back on.”

From 'The Dolphin Project' - “Despite mating, no offspring was produced. was clear Hugo hadn’t adjusted well to life in captivity. It was commonly reported that Hugo would regularly and intentionally bash his head against the walls of the tank, specifically, against the viewing windows. Once, he broke a nine-inch hole in the plastic, nearly severing the tip of his rostrum.”

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