Miami Lolita, an orca whale held in captivity for more than half a century, died Friday at the Miami Seaquarium as keepers prepared to quickly remove it from the theme park.
The Seaquarium posted on social media that Lolita, also known as Dogide or Toki, had started showing serious signs of illness in the past two days. The Seaquarium and Friends of Toki’s medical team began treating him immediately and intensively, but the 57-year-old orca died of kidney disease, according to a social media post.
“Toki was an inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to hear his story and especially to Lumi Nation who considered his family,” the Seaquarium post said. “Those who had the privilege of spending time with her will forever remember her beautiful spirit.”
Animal rights activists have been fighting for years to have Lolita released from her tank at the Miami Seaquarium. The park’s relatively new owner, The Dolphin Company, and Toki’s nonprofit Friends announced plans in March to move it to a natural sea pen in the Pacific Northwest with financial backing from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.
Lolita stopped the show last spring as a condition of the park receiving a new fair license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since then, it has not been on public display.
New improvements have been installed in recent months to better filter the pool and control water temperature.
Federal and state regulatory bodies must approve any plans to move Lolita, which could take months or years. Lolita’s 2,267 kg lived in a tank measuring 24 x 11 meters and 6 meters deep for years.
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