"Lolita Orca Dies: Miami Seaquarium Mourns the Loss of Beloved Captive Orca after Half a Century"
Lolita, a captive orca whale held for over 50 years, has died at the Miami Seaquarium. Activists fought for her release.
Lolita, a captive orca whale who had been held at the Miami Seaquarium for over 50 years, passed away on Friday. The theme park had plans to move her in the near future, but unfortunately, she began showing signs of discomfort in the past two days. Despite immediate and aggressive treatment from the Seaquarium and Friends of Toki medical team, the 57-year-old orca succumbed to a renal condition.
The Seaquarium took to social media to share the news of Lolita's passing, referring to her by her other names, Tokitae or Toki. They expressed their sorrow and acknowledged her significance as an inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to know her story. The Lummi nation, in particular, considered her a part of their family. Those who had the privilege of spending time with her will always remember her beautiful spirit.
Animal rights activists have long fought for Lolita's freedom from her tank at the Miami Seaquarium. In March, a plan was announced by the park's new owner, The Dolphin Company, and the nonprofit Friends of Toki, to potentially relocate her to a natural sea pen in the Pacific Northwest. This plan had the financial support of Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts.
As part of the park's new exhibitor's license with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Lolita retired from performing last spring. She had not been publicly displayed since then. The Seaquarium had made recent upgrades to improve the filtration of the pool and regulate the water temperature for her comfort.
Moving Lolita would have required approval from federal and state regulators, which could have taken a significant amount of time. Throughout her years at the Miami Seaquarium, she had been living in a tank measuring 80 feet by 35 feet and with a depth of 20 feet. The 5,000-pound orca had become a symbol of the ongoing debate surrounding the captivity of marine animals and the ethics of keeping them in confined spaces.
Lolita's passing marks the end of an era at the Miami Seaquarium. While her story has come to a close, the discussions and activism surrounding the treatment of marine animals continue to evolve. It is a reminder of the importance of considering the well-being and natural habitat of these magnificent creatures.