Tears of Joy: Lolita the Orca to Return to Her 'Home Waters' After Over 50 Years in Captivity - Media News 48

Tears of Joy: Lolita the Orca to Return to Her ‘Home Waters’ After Over 50 Years in Captivity

After decades of campaigning from environmental activists and the Coast Salish Lummi Nation, Lolita the orca, the second-oldest orca in captivity, will be returned to her home waters in Puget Sound.

The Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita has lived for 53 years, announced the planned relocation at a Thursday press conference along with parent The Dolphin Company, Florida non-profit Friends of Lolita and philanthropist Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts and main donor for the relocation.

“We have to teach her how to catch fish again. She doesn’t know how to do that anymore, she’s been in captivity too long,” said Eduardo Albor, CEO of the Dolphin Company.

The Miami Seaquarium has resisted calls to release Lolita for many years. This about-face comes after the aquarium changed owners and announced it would no longer put the 5,000-pound, 57-year-old orca on public display last year.

For years, the Lummi Nation has campaigned to return Lolita to her home waters. In 2018, the 50th anniversary of Lolita’s capture from Puget Sound, the Nation travelled to Miami, bringing with them a totem pole carved for the orca.

“She was forced out of her home waters to live in isolation far away from her family. Her story is the Lummi story and the story of so many Native peoples across the country,” Julius said.

There is evidence that orcas that have been captive for many years can survive in the wild.

“Lolita is the second oldest orca in captivity to Corky at SeaWorld San Diego, but she could have some good years ahead of her. There’s speculation that her mother is still alive. She’s an apex predator. She was never meant to live in a tank.”

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