Met with support by drivers on Key Biscayne, more than 100 animal activists and concerned South Florida residents encouraged Miami Seaquarium visitors to turn around Saturday.
"The only reason they're keeping her here is because people keep going through the door and buying tickets," said activist Don Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. "And we want people to know it's just plain wrong."
The protest was part of a worldwide effort called Empty the Tanks. Organizers say people in more than 30 countries joined the fight today against marine animal captivity.
"We're trying to educate the public that this is not entertainment," activist Chris Lagergren said. "That these animals live miserable lives."
The protest was focused on freeing Lolita the killer whale, but many also said they want to see the Seaquarium shut down entirely.
"Lolita was kidnapped in the ocean at the age of six. She's been here for 44 years performing foolish tricks for tourists, it's enough," protestor Lissette Carlo said. "This is really an eyesore for the Miami area. We want to see it shut down."
Another option, protesters say, is for the Seaquarium to use its space for educational purposes.
"They could change it and make it a different kind of tourist attraction that doesn't involve animal abuse," Anthony said.
Miami Seaquarium management did not return our calls for comment, but in the past they've said the following:
"Lolita has been part of the Miami Seaquarium family for 43 years. She is healthy and thriving in her permanent home where she shares her habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins."