Lolita: Dies ahead of planned release to her natural habitat

The Seaquarium said Lolita, believed to be about 57 years old, began to exhibit “serious signs of discomfort” over the last few days. Despite medical treatment, the orca died on Friday afternoon after suffering a what appeared to be a “renal condition,” the Seaquarium said. The aquatic park was closed on Saturday for the staff to mourn the loss.

Toki was an inspiration to all who had the fortune to hear her story and especially to the Lummi nation that considered her family,” the post reads. “Those of us who have had the honor and privilege to spend time with her will forever remember her beautiful spirit.” The Lummi Nation is a Native American tribe based on the coast of Washington state and southern British Columbia, near the waters where Lolita was captured.

Also known as Tokitae and Toki, the orca captured in 1970 off the Washington state coast was to be returned to a custom enclosure in her home habitat, the Puget Sound, under an agreement between the Seaquarium and the nonprofit, Friends of Toki, that was announced in spring.

The Seaquarium posted a statement from the nonprofit group Friends of Toki on social media that Lolita — also known as Tokitae, or Toki — started exhibiting serious signs of discomfort over the past two days. Seaquarium and Friends of Toki medical team members began treating her immediately and aggressively, but the 57-year-old orca died from an apparent renal condition, the statement said.

Its destination: the University of Georgia, which has the facilities necessary to do a necropsy on the famous orca, a mainstay attraction of Miami’s Seaquarium for more than 50 years.

In social media posts, the aquarium announced that the whale, whose name was changed to Toki, had been experiencing signs of distress from what the aquarium’s medical staff believed was a renal condition.

The orca, initially known as Tokitae or Toki, was 4 years old when she was captured from the Pacific coast near Seattle. Over the next five decades, Lolita became the the star attraction at the Seaquarium, preforming about twice a day until she was retired in 2022.