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Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale Lolita dies of kidney

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Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale Lolita dies of kidney disease aged 57 before she was set for release into the Pacific Ocean

  • Lolita, the ‘loneliest whale in the world’, has died aged 57, just months after her retirement and as plans to return her to the wild got underway
  • Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita, also known as Tokitae, lived in captivity for more than 50 years, announced her passing on Friday
  • Experts and concerned individuals had long protested against Lolita’s conditions in captivity, including the size of her 80-foot long and 35-foot wide tank, the smallest of its kind in the US

Lolita, once dubbed the ‘loneliest whale in the world’, has died aged 57 just months after her retirement and as plans to return her to the wild got underway.

Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita, also known as Tokitae, lived in captivity for more than 50 years, announced her passing on Friday.

‘Despite receiving the best possible medical care, she passed away Friday afternoon from what is believed to be a renal condition’ the seaquarium said in a statement.

‘Toki was an inspiration to all who had the fortune to hear her story and especially to the Lummi nation that considered her family.

‘Those of us who have had the honor and privilege to spend time with her will forever remember her beautiful spirit’ it added.

Lolita, the 'loneliest whale in the world', has died aged 57

Lolita, the ‘loneliest whale in the world’, has died aged 57

Miami Seaquarium announced her passing on Friday

Miami Seaquarium announced her passing on Friday

Experts and concerned individuals had long protested against Lolita's conditions in captivity, including the size of her 80-foot long and 35-foot wide tank

Experts and concerned individuals had long protested against Lolita’s conditions in captivity, including the size of her 80-foot long and 35-foot wide tank

Lolita started exhibiting serious signs of discomfort over the past two days and despite treatment passed away. 

In March it was announced that a binding agreement had been reached between The Dolphin Company, which owns the seaquarium, and non-profit Friends of Lolita to return the whale to her home waters in the Pacific Northwest. 

The Seaquarium, nonprofit Friends of Lolita, and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay announced at a press conference that they would work to move Lolita into her native waters in around 18 months. 

‘I think that she’ll be very happy to be back and it will be therapeutic for her contrary to the misconception that it will be stressful,’ Howard Garrett of Orca Network told KOMO News at the time.

Experts and concerned individuals had long protested against Lolita’s conditions in captivity, including the size of her 80-foot long and 35-foot wide tank, the smallest of its kind in the US. 

Just 10 years after Lolita arrived at the aquarium, her companion Hugo died of an aneurysm that was caused by repeated head trauma, earning her the title of the world’s loneliest whale. 

Washington’s Lummi Nation, a Native American tribe, traveled to Miami in 2018 to leave a nearly 4,000lb totem pole behind as part of an effort to bring the orca back to Washington. It’s part of an $8.5million effort to bring Lolita home, according to

Jewell James, a member of the tribe, accused the Seaquarium of abandoning the animal’s needs for money, forcing her to perform for audiences a couple of times a day and said keeping her in the 20-foot tank was like keeping her in a prison cell.

‘She’s our relative and we want her back,’ he said. 

Lolita was the oldest whale in captivity at age 56 and performed until 2022 when she was finally retired after falling ill. 

Lolita the Orca, who is also known as Tokitae, was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970 (pictured). She lived most of her life inside the Miami Seaquarium

Lolita the Orca, who is also known as Tokitae, was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970 (pictured). She lived most of her life inside the Miami Seaquarium

Lolita performed for decades before stopping last year due to illness. She was the longest living whale in captivity at the age of 57

Lolita performed for decades before stopping last year due to illness. She was the longest living whale in captivity at the age of 57 

Just 10 years after Lolita arrived at the aquarium, her companion Hugo died of an aneurysm

Just 10 years after Lolita arrived at the aquarium, her companion Hugo died of an aneurysm

On average, orcas in captivity only live until around 45 years old. 

The orca was captured off the coast of Washington in 1970 aged four, and her mother, now almost a century old, is still believed to be swimming in those waters. 

Capturing orcas was legal in the 1970s, but after a series of protests over hunters working to capture orcas from their mothers, Washington banned the practice. 

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