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Orca Living in Captivity May Return to the Ocean - National Humane Education Society

April 19, 2023

After 53 years of living in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium, an orca named Lolita is preparing to be returned to Puget Sound, where she was originally captured when she was four years old. Lolita’s life of public display is soon to be behind her. She weighs 5,000 pounds and lives in a tank that is 20 feet deep that measures 80 feet by 35 feet. It is long overdue that Lolita receives adequate space to swim, hunt, and be with her family.

Her journey to her home waters will have its challenges —as a consequence of her living in captivity and isolation for so long. She will initially live in a large net with dolphins to keep her company. She will also need to be taught how to fish again. Lolita will also need to take time to build up her muscles in order to swim around 100 miles a day. While acclimating to her new surroundings, she will be under 24-hour care. The relocation is expected to take six to nine months and could cost around $15-20 million.

Her return home is a significant first step to making up for our mistake of keeping massive apex predators for display purposes. Her departure from Florida is expected to be around 18 to 24 months away. It is believed that Lolita still has family in Puget Sound that she will get the chance to reunite with. She still has a long life ahead of her, and she deserves the rest of her life to be the way nature intended.

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4 responses to “Orca Living in Captivity May Return to the Ocean”

  1. S Harmes says:

    We need to learn how to live and respect “all living beings” that we share this planet with. We “humans” do not own this planet. We share it all living beings.

  2. Glenda Macemore says:

    I first saw Lolita at Miami Sea aquarium nearly 50 years ago. Then I had no idea she actually lived in that small tank. At that time, Hugo was with her. A few years later, I saw her alone because Hugo had died. From then until now I have been distressed at her captivity and advocated for her release. I just hope she makes it until she can be free!

  3. Linda says:

    if she has been domesticated by not getting her own food and such, will she be able to survive in the wild after 53 years?

    • Judith a Albers says:

      I would say no, because she has been isolated for so very long. How do you even know if the other orcas will accept her. This is a very risky idea. Hind sight, fore sight.

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