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Lolita the orca to finally be set free after over 50 years of captivity

Lolita the orca to finally be set free after over 50 years of captivity

Lolita has been freed after being caught and held in captivity since 1970

Lolita the orca will be set free after spending the last 50 years in captivity.

The sea creature, who was captured and held in captivity for the past five decades and is currently at Miami Seaquarium, will be returned to ‘home waters’ in the Pacific Northwest for the rest of her life.

Lolita, a Southern resident orca, who is also known by the Native American name Tokitae and weighs roughly 5,000 pounds according to the Miami Herald, was four years old when she was pulled from the waters in Washington in 1970.

She is now believed to be around 57 years old and is said to be the oldest orca currently in captivity.

Lolita the orca.
WPLG Local 10

In recent years, Lolita's health has taken a turn for the worst and MS Leisure announced last year she would no longer be put on display in its whale stadium.

Thankfully, an independent assessment on Lolita in June last year suggested her health has improved.

Her fate was confirmed at a news conference today (30 March) which was held by the aquarium in Florida along with the non-profit Friends of Lolita and philanthropist and owner of the NFL team Indianapolis Colts Jim Irsay.

Lolita the orca has been in captivity since 1970.
WPLG Local 10

Irsay teased a big announcement regarding Lolita earlier this week.

"I’ll be at a big press conference in Miami on Thursday at 11:30am for a HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT about the future of LOLITA the orca,” he wrote in a tweet on 28 March.

But the hard work has only just begun, with the logistics for transporting such a large animal across the country to Washington state. The U.S. government has to approve the moving details, Pritam Singh, founder of Friends of Lolita said.

A statement from PETA Foundation Vice President and General Counsel for Animal Law urged for Lolita's release earlier this week.

It read: “If Lolita is finally returned to her home waters, there will be cheers from around the world, including from PETA, which has pursued several lawsuits on Lolita’s behalf and battered the Seaquarium with protests demanding her freedom for years."

Irsay teased a big announcement regarding Lolita earlier this week.

The statement continued: “If the Seaquarium agrees to move her, it’ll offer her long-awaited relief after five miserable decades in a cramped tank and send a clear signal to other parks that the days of confining highly intelligent, far-ranging marine mammals to dismal prisons are done and dusted."

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called the news ‘historic’.

“So many have hoped and prayed for this result for many, many years,” she added.

The news comes after the world's saddest orca, Kiska, who got her nickname due to her life of solitude after being removed from her family in Iceland in 1979 and being sold into the aquarium industry, died at 46 years old this year. Kiska had been in a solo tank at the aquarium since 2011.

Featured Image Credit: Paul Hennessy / Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Animals, News