After 50 Years in Captivity Florida Aquarium Plans to Return Lolita the Orca to Her ‘Home Waters’

One of the oldest orca whales in captivity is set to return to the wild! After 50 years, retired performer Lolita will finally be released.

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Today, The Dolphin Company announced that they had reached an agreement with the Friends of Lolita to create a plan for the orca’s relocation. The Dolphin Company owns the Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita is currently being held.

According to CBS, Dolphin Company CEO Eduardo Albor was motivated by his daughter’s reaction to the whale’s enclosure. Apparently, she couldn’t stand seeing the majestic creature confined to the 20-ft-deep container.

The Dolphin Company Agrees to Facilitate Lolita’s Release

Lolita’s impending release is greatly thanks to the continued efforts of non-profit organization Friends of Toki, whose name was changed to honor the whale’s indigenous name. Philanthropist Jim Irsay has pledged to fund her relocation.

It’s a good thing that Lolita has friends in high places because returning her to the ocean is going to take a lot of time and effort. Since the whale reportedly does not know how to take care of herself, she’ll have to be retrained in a netted area. The entire process is expected to take up to two years and $15-$20 million.

Despite the obstacles, The Guardian tells us that whale researcher Howard Garrett has high hopes for her rehabilitation.

“She’s not withdrawn, neurotic, not the stereotypic behavior that indicates any kind of brain damage associated with being in captivity,” he says. “She may be a complete outlier in her ability to stay healthy.”

Read More: Ben the Bear Escapes from St. Louis Zoo for the Second Time in a Month

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