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Lolita alone at the Miami Seaquarium


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Hugo: the Vanishing Boy

Sorry, Show's Over. Hugo's Dead.
We Killed Him!

Hugo at Miami Seaquarium
©Dolphin Project

He died in 1980
suffering from a brain Aneurysm.
If you really want to see Hugo,
you'll have to take an outting to the Dade County Land Fill
because that's where we dumped him.

This was Hugo's home for 2 years. He was captured in February, 1968 from a small bay in Puget Sound. A female captured with Hugo was shipped to a New York aquarium, where she died seven months later.

Hugo was about 23 feet long when captured, which means he was in his early teens, much older than most of the captives. He was placed in a tiny pool that is now the manatee pool at the Seaquarium while plans were made for construction of a larger pool about 100 yards away. Construction was completed about the time Lolita was captured and delivered to Miami in September, 1970.

For the first few weeks after Lolita was put in the new tank Hugo remained in the manatee tub for fear they would fight. But they were members of the same family and shared the same calls, so instead they called to each other repeatedly through the air all day, every day. Lolita was given her name because Hugo seemed to want to mate with Lolita.

Hugo and Lolita at Miami Seaquarium

Hugo and Lolita performed their daily routines, but on many occasions Hugo simply refused and acted aggressively, according to one of their first trainers in 1970. His dorsal fin soon flopped over. He repeatedly bashed his head against the wall and against the viewing windows. He broke several windows, once nearly severing the tip of his rostrum, which had to be sewn back on.

Manatee Tank

In March, 1980, according the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Inventory Report, Hugo died of a brain aneurysm, which means a massive hemorrhage from bashing his head against the wall.

causality was as clear as it could be, aneurysms don’t “just happen”, his confinement killed him.

Howard Garrett
Orca Network
Greenbank WA
(360) 678-3451

"When I fed Hugo his tail would be lying on the bottom and his head would be completely out of the water. It was pathetic. They wanted me to train him. I refused and left in disgust."
~Ric O'Barry

Seaquarium PR spokespersons constantly refer to 'our' animals as family. But when people gaze into the tank now (full of manatees) they have no idea just how much suffering went on there. You won't find any tributes or dedication plaques to good old Hugo around the park. He was just a teenager when he died. He served the park for 10 years, yet it's as though he never existed.


Sea lion at Miami Seaquarium

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