Lolita might have just performed her last shows.
On March 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted a license to The Dolphin Company to be able to operate the Miami Seaquarium. However, as part of the operating conditions, Lolita and her tankmate, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Lii, will no longer be permitted to be displayed.
The aquarium, located in Virginia Key, Florida, has featured Lolita (also known as Tokitae), the orca at the center of controversy, since 1970. For close to 52 years she has existed in a concrete tank — the smallest orca tank in North America — and for nearly 42 of those years, has not seen another orca since the death of Hugo in 1980.
On August 17, 2021, a press release from The Dolphin Company, “the largest park operator in America and the #1 swimming with dolphins family in the world”, announced it reached an agreement with the Palace Entertainment company to take over the operation of the Miami Seaquarium. The company, according to their website, currently operates 32 parks across the world, including the Gulf World parks in Panama City Beach, Marineland in St. Augustine and Dolphin Connection in Duck Key, making the Miami Seaquarium the company’s fourth park in Florida, in the United States.
The permit also prohibits the public from seeing Lolita and Lii, and their photos will no longer be allowed to be posted onto the aquarium’s social media.
For years, several animal welfare groups, including Dolphin Project, have advocated for Lolita to be retired to a seaside sanctuary, where she could live out the rest of her years in peace and dignity. To the new owners of the Miami Seaquarium, we implore The Dolphin Company to choose ethics over profits and retire Lolita and the remaining cetaceans at the facility.
As more information becomes known of Lolita’s and Lii’s fates, we will post updates onto our social media.
According to new license, The Dolphin Company will no longer be able to post any social media images of Toki & Lii. The big question still not answered is what is TDC plans for Toki & Lii. They can’t repair her crumbling pool or stadium with Toki still in it. Still developing. pic.twitter.com/piYPzyipwd
— Louis Aguirre (@LOUISAGUIRRE) March 3, 2022