The geriatric killer whale could soon return to the waters off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, the region where Lolita’s mother reportedly still lives
Lolita the killer whale may return to the ocean and maybe reunite with her elderly mother 52 years after being brought into captivity.
According to The Guardian, activists are making progress in their decades-long effort to free Lolita, also known as Tokitae or Toki, who was taken from the wild and brought to the Miami Seaquarium in 1970.
According to the publication, the 56-year-old orca has been living and performing in what has been called the tiniest tank in North America for captive killer whales since 1970.
Lolita’s health has fluctuated over the years. Despite having outlived her tankmate Hugo, specialists have said the elderly whale is in “remarkably good form,” according to the newspaper. After continuously banging his head against his enclosure, he passed away in 1980 as the result of a cerebral aneurysm.
Howard Garrett, a whale researcher and Orca Network activist who has fought for Lolita’s release since 1995, told The Guardian that she “is a miracle every day.” “She is still alive in spite of all odds. Her emotional health, in my opinion, is what maintains her physical health.”
He went on, “She exhibits none of the stereotypical signs of brain damage brought on by being held captive, such as being reclusive or neurotic. She can be the total exception when it comes to maintaining her health.”
She was fed less than was advised and wasn’t drinking enough water, according to a USDA investigation that faulted the Miami Seaquarium’s treatment of the animal last year.
According to the report, the attending veterinarian was also concerned that Toki wasn’t getting enough water (because marine mammals absorb water from fish for their hydration needs) and that the lack of food volume would make her uncomfortable and agitated.
It went on, “The Training Curator’s directive to include quick swims and high jumps in training sessions and performances for this elderly whale also raised worries for the AV. The AV was concerned that Toki’s irregular bloodwork could lead to over-exertion and winding, which was in fact noticed by both the senior trainer and the AV. The AV determined that Toki had likely struck her lower jaw at the lower flume or bulkhead during brisk swimming. According to Toki’s medical records, she had lower mandibular injuries on February 25, March 10, March 31, April 6, and April 7, 2021.”
According to The Guardian, activists are optimistic about Lolita’s ultimate return to free waters as a result of the report’s conclusions and the fact that the facility’s new owners are amenable to the possibility of releasing the whale.
Lolita may soon be reunited with her mother, a 93-year-old whale known as L25 or “Ocean Sun,” even though returning her to her former environment entails hazards, according to Newsweek.
According to Newsweek, the senior animal still apparently roams the Salish Sea’s waters close to Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, in charge of a pod of southern resident killer whales.