Florida Aquarium Plans to Return Lolita the Orca to Her ‘Home Seas’ After 50 Years in Captivity

The Miami Seaquarium revealed plans to move Lolita the orca in the next 18 to 24 months to an sea shelter in the Pacific Northwest, near the waters where she was caught over half a century ago

Lolita the orca whale is set to get her own Free Willy tale.

On Thursday, the Miami Seaquarium announced strategies to move the whale– captured from the Pacific Sea near Washington and placed into captivity at the Florida park in 1970– from its facility to an ocean sanctuary in her “home waters.”

Representatives from the Miami Seaquarium were joined at journalism conference by Eduardo Albor of The Dolphin Company, Pritam Singh from Friends of Lolita, and philanthropist Jim Irsay, that also has the Indianapolis Colts.

At the conference, the Miami Seaquarium said it has actually begun “the process of returning Toki to her home waters” by creating a lawfully binding agreement to function towards this objective between The Dolphin Company– which lately started handling the Miami Seaquarium– and Buddies of Lolita– a nonprofit organization created to help Lolita, also known as Tokitae or Toki.

Irsay, that is providing a generous contribution to the Lolitia relocation effort, teased the landmark news in a Thursday tweet, publishing, “Dinner before today’s Lolita interview in Miami Beach! Key players in the massive plan to finally FREE this 8000 lb killer whale, Lolita !!”.

In a release from the Miami Seaquarium, Irsay included, “the tale of Lolita has actually been near and dear to my heart. I am proud– and enthusiastic– to play a role in finally returning Lolita to her indigenous Pacific Northwest.”.

Albor, the CEO of The Dolphin Company, expressed a similar relationship with Lolita.

” It has actually always been our commitment at The Dolphin Company that we place the greatest priority on the well-being of animals, above all else,” Albor said. “Finding a better future for Lolita is one the reasons that motivated us to acquire the Miami Seaquarium.”.

According to NBC News, Lolilta was eliminated from the wild when she was about 4 years of ages, making her roughly 57 years of age today. Lolita is thought to be the oldest orca whale in captivity. She also lives in among The United States and Canada’s smallest whale tanks, per The Guardian.

Throughout the years, Lolita’s health has actually ebbed and flowed. Still, specialists have explained the geriatric whale as remaining in “remarkably good condition,” the outlet included, having outlived her tank-mate Hugo. He passed away of a brain aneurysm in 1980 after repeatedly hitting his head against his enclosure. Lolita is presently the sole orca whale at the Miami Seaquarium.

A record from the USDA launched in 2021 criticized the Miami Seaquarium’s care of the animal, citing that she was fed less than the recommended amount and had not been absorbing enough water.

The new operators of the Miami Seaquarium, The Dolphin Company, reportedly made modifications to Lolita’s care, and an independent assessment in June found the whale to be in much better health, according to NBC News. Still, Lolita was pulled from screen at the Miami Seaquarium in 2022 in response to her health issues.

News of Miami Seaqurium’s pending launch of Lolita is being celebrated throughout animal welfare organizations, a lot of which “have worked, prayed, and wished for this result for many, many years,” according to the aquarium.

” After 52 years, Tokitae’s time languishing in the smallest orca tank is finally coming to an end. Every animal activist that has actually been advocating for her release can finally breathe a sigh of alleviation. We can not wait to see her living in the wild under some continued human care, preferably in her home seas where she belongs. To quote the vocalist Lizzo, it has to do with damn time! Currently, we must continue fighting for the thousands of other cetaceans who remain to suffer in captivity for traveler entertainment,” Nicole Barrantes, a wildlife campaign manager with World Animal Protection, informed PEOPLE in a statement.

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The Miami Seaquarium did not share details about the sea sanctuary envisioned for Lolita’s launch however said it wishes to relocate the orca in the next 18 to 24 months.

” With the support of all parties, the continued health of Lolita, and authorizations from the suitable authorities, we are all committed to giving this beautiful orca a new home and peaceful future,” Albor said.