The Oldest Orca in Captivity To Be Released
Should the 50+ orcas still in captivity be released?
What’s the story?
- Lolita the orca, who has lived in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 50 years, is being released to live out the rest of her days in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
- After years of pressure from animal rights activists, the aquarium announced its plans during a news conference on Thursday to set the 5,000-pound killer whale free. CEO of the Dolphin Company, Eduardo Albor, said during the news conference:
“This is a very special day. It is amazing to see how many things you can achieve in one year when actions take place of words.”
- The aquarium signed a deal with the Flordia nonprofit group Friends of Lolita to relocate the orca and received financial assistance from philanthropist and NFL’s Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Isray. Isray said:
“I’m excited about being a part of Lolita’s journey. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved whales, just loved whales because [of] the power, the greatness of them and how gentle they are.”
- For now, Lolita will be relocated to an ocean sanctuary with netting where she can receive care from trainers.
How captivity harms orca whales
- Captivity has numerous adverse effects on orca whales, both physical and psychological.
- The lack of space given in aquarium tanks is a tiny fraction of the size of an orca’s natural habitat, leading to physical problems such as collapsed dorsal fins, dental issues, and skin problems rarely seen in the wild.
- Orcas are highly social animals. In captivity, isolation can cause stress, anxiety, depression, boredom, and lack of simulation. Captive orcas frequently spend hours motionless or swimming in endless circles, while in the wild, they would spend their days hunting, playing, and exploring, which is critical to their health and development.
- Captivity shortens orca’s lifespans significantly as they commonly suffer from infections, respiratory issues, and more. The journal Marine Mammal Science found that orcas in captivity have a mortality rate 2.5 times higher than orcas in the wild. The longest-living captive-born orca, Kayla, was only 30 years old — in the wild, she could have lived as old as 80 or 90.
There are still over 50 orcas in captivity. Do you think they should be released?
(Photo credit: Flickr/Data311)
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A story with a sad beginning hopefully will have a happy ending. Did not realize the Lummi people consider Orca's to be part of their extended family or that Tokitae's mother is still alive so happy to hear they will be reunited through the efforts of people righting the original wrong,
"Tokitae’s ordeal began in the calm waters of Penn Cove, Whidbey Island – a quiet island off the coast of Washington State – five decades ago. Men with long sticks and guns corralled a group of resident killer whales, separating mothers from their calves. At least a dozen of those whales died during the capture, and more than 50 were kept for captive display."
"One of those calves was four-year-old Tokitae. Back home, the native Lummi people call her Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut – meaning that she is a member of Sk’aliCh’elh, the resident family of orcas who call the Salish Sea home. The tribe, who views killer whales as part of their extended family, have never stopped fighting for her release."
"Over the years multiple groups, including members of the Lummi nation and animal rights organizations, have called for the whale’s release from the Seaquarium, with some staging protests outside the facility."
"A “generous contribution” from Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, helped alleviate the financial questions around Toki’s future. “I know she wants to get to free waters,” Irsay said at a news conference Thursday in Miami. “I don’t care what anyone says. She’s lived this long to have this opportunity.”
"Toki’s relatives – members of the resident L-pod in the Salish Sea – are still alive, including the 90-year-old whale believed to be her mother. "
"the owners of the Miami Seaquarium where Tokitae lives announced a “formal and binding agreement” with a group called the Friends of Lolita to begin the process of returning Tokitae to Puget Sound. A news release indicates that the joint effort is “working toward and hope the relocation will be possible in the next 18 to 24 months”."
"Howard Garrett, founder of the non-profit Orca Network who has been advocating for Toki’s release for decades, says the news was lacking in specifics, but it set the tone for unified intention and action. “That’s what will make it happen. That will greatly influence the agencies and skeptics and naysayers,” he says. “This was a momentous historical event.”
Has this been done successfully in the past? Whales are social and travel in pods. Do they have the ability to join a pod? Be monitored? Fend for themselves? If not, then no. If these intelligent, beautiful beings can be free and have a quality of life, then yes...free all the Willys!
I really have mixed feelings on this topic. In previous attempts to release orca's that have been held captive for many years. The release has not gone well. The orcas have lost their natural ability the hunt food and have ended up not doing well. I worry about this orca's chances for survival.
On the other hand: I feel every creature should have the right to be free.
The animals should only be released if the Orcas can remain safe. We destroyed their natural life. When you know better, you do better.
honestly, i'm not sure. they shouldn't be in captivity in the first place. and NOW, 50 years later? will they be able to survive in the wild? i worry about them but have no solution.
She will be in danger
It's time to put animal rights into action by freeing all Orca now in activity. As civilized human beings we need to put values into action
How is this even a question. Incarcerating intelligent social beings for the entertainment of people who are largely ignorant of the cruelty they are supporting is shameful and indefensible.
Only if capable of surving all the years in captivity.
As long as monitored as worried might not know how to fend for itself.
We need to protect this species in wild. Captivity is for species that are functionally extinct in the wild.
This orca never ever should've been cultivated. Is ashamed. SMH.
WoW what an awesome adventure the Orca would have and eventually tag onto a pod and be back in a true world of wonder teaching tricks in the wild
ONLY if they will survive!
If they can be expected to survive, absolutely yes.
I hope the statement 'For now, Lolita will be relocated to an ocean sanctuary with netting where she can receive care from trainers.' is true. They need to make sure of long term survival when released.
Unless any animal can be sustained in a captive environment that fully mimics its wild habitat, then they should not be captured, or, if already captive, then released into their natural habitat. Accordingly, captive orcas should all be released since no marina can afford to fully simulate the orcas' natural habitat.
Yes, the Orcs should be released to the vast, spacious oceans. No way to make their lives comfortable in such depressing small spaces. Even if one creates 1,000 acres of water, Orcs would not be happy. So just let them go to the ocean where they'll romp happily.
He needs to be free! I think they have made alot of money off of him! let him live out his life free!