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Protesters mourn death of killer whale Lolita outside Miami

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The entrance of Miami Seaquarium was yet again a center of mourning after the death of Lolita, also known as Toki, the beloved orca who had been in captivity for over five decades.

Demonstrators eulogized Toki and left flowers Saturday, creating a makeshift memorial in honor of the killer whale.

Lolita died Saturday of what the Miami Seaquarium believes was a renal condition.

Animal rights activists, including representatives of PETA, were present Saturday afternoon. 

“At funerals, it’s often said that the deceased is no longer suffering. For Lolita, those words ring especially true,” said Amanda Brody, PETA Senior Campaigner.

In August 2021, The Dolphin Company purchased the Seaquarium, and as a condition of the sale, the U.S. Department of Agriculture told the company they had to retire Tokitae.

A month later, the USDA then released a report saying she was eating “poor quality” rotting food, the water in her tank was dirty and her trainers “disregarded veterinary instructions,” allegedly making her perform in spite of injuries.

“They normally live up to 90 years in the wild. It’s a tragic and sad story, not just because she died, but because she was held captive, prisoner for 53 years,” said Juan Endara, an animal rights activist.

There were plans in 2023 to return Lolita to her native waters, with an agreement aiming to relocate her within the next 18 to 24 months. 

“The time for Lolita to be in her sea pin has passed. But, it is not too late for the animals who are captive behind us,” said Susan Hargreaves, an animal rights activist. 

In response to NBC6’s inquiry about Lolita’s remains and where her body was taken, the Miami Seaquarium Public Relations Team said they are gathering more information and will be learning more in the coming days and weeks. 

The PR team then referred NBC6 to its statement issued Friday. 

“It is a very difficult time for those who knew Lolita; she inspired millions of people who knew her and learned from her,” said Danay Voiles, General Manager at Miami Seaquarium. “In the following days we will share what will be the ceremony to bid farewell to beautiful Lolita.”

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