FLORIDA, Miami – An endangered killer whale, thought to be Lolita’s mother, is still swimming in the Pacific Northwest, more than 50 years after the orca known as Lolita was captured for public display at the Miami Seaquarium.
At a press announcement on Thursday, the theme park’s owner, an animal rights group, and a philanthropic NFL owner announced the partnership.
Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, expressed his delight at participating in “Lolita’s road to freedom.” Lolita’s goal is to reach “free seas,” and I know it.
During the summer of 1970, when lethal orca roundups were common in Puget Sound. A female orca named Lolita (also known as Tokitae) was taken there at the age of about four. Before she got sick, she had already spent decades entertaining paid audiences.
In accordance with a settlement reached with federal officials, the Miami Seaquarium announced last year that it would no longer include her in its public performances.
At 57 years old and 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms), Lolita is currently housed in a tank that is 80 feet wide, 35 feet long, and 20 feet deep (6 m x 6 m x 6 m).
Until The Orca Adjusts To Her New Home, She Would Be Cared After Around The Clock
Officials have indicated that the Seaquarium’s caretakers have already begun prepping her for the trip. In 2021, the Dolphin Corporation acquired the Seaquarium.
The southern resident killer whales, also known as the southern resident orcas, are an endangered subspecies of orca that feed mostly on salmon and spend most of their time in the waters between Washington and Canada.
The roundups resulted in the deaths of at least 13 orcas. And the delivery of 45 others to theme parks across the world. Cutting the resident population in Puget Sound by nearly 40% and contributing to inbreeding problems that persist to this day.
The Center for Whale Studies on San Juan Island in Washington state reports that of the once-numerous southern resident population. Only 73 are left now. These whales live in three related groupings known as pods. Only two animals have been added since 1971.
Tokitae has been the target of a long campaign by animal rights groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to bring her back to her native Japan for her final years.
Protesters frequently gather on the street next to the Seaquarium, which they call an “abusement park.” PETA said it doesn’t want Lolita to die from a brain aneurysm as Hugo did in 1980 from hitting his head on the tank walls.
On Thursday, Albor revealed that he and his daughter once visited the Seaquarium as tourists when his company was in the process of acquiring the attraction. As many others in the audience were squealing with delight at Lolita’s performance, his daughter reportedly became unhappy.
After telling him “this site is too small for Lolita,” his daughter insisted he makes good on his pledge to aid the orca if his company purchased the park.
52 Years After Capture, Orca Lolita May return to the Pacific
Plans are in the works to bring the orca known as Lolita back from the Miami Seaquarium to her native waters in the Pacific Northwest. Where a nearly century-old, endangered whale thought to be her mother still swims. This would be more than 50 years after Lolita was first captured for public display.
During the tragic orca roundups in the summer of 1970 in Puget Sound, Lolita, also known as Tokitae, was approx. 4 years old when she was taken. Before her illness, she had entertained paying audiences for decades.
The Miami Seaquarium said last year that. Per a pact with federal officials, it will stop using her in public performances. Lolita, who is 57 years old and weighs 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms). Has a tank that is 80 feet wide by 35 feet long and 20 feet deep, where she spends her days.
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“It’s a start toward restoring our natural ecosystem, mending what we’ve messed up with exploitation and development,” said Howard Garrett,
president of the board of directors of the advocacy group Orca Network, headquartered on Whidbey Island in Washington state. I’m sure she’ll be happy to return to her old stomping grounds.
Orca Network, an organization based on Whidbey Island in Washington state, has welcomed the news, calling it “a step toward restoring our natural habitat, correcting what we’ve screwed up with exploitation and development.
” This is according to board president Howard Garrett. It’s her old neighborhood, so I imagine she’ll be happy to return there.
Irsay, Eduardo Albor (CEO of The Dolphin Company, the company that operates the Seaquarium), and Pritam Singh (an environmentalist who co-founded the Florida group Friends of Toki) still need government approval to move forward with their deal.
The group estimated that the process of transferring the animal might take anywhere from 18 to 24 months and cost upwards of $20 million.