NFL Owner Steps Up To Help Free An Orca That’s Spent More Than 50 Years At Miami Aquarium

Lolita the orca at the Miami Seaquarium

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The vast majority of the people who work at zoos and aquariums firmly believe those institutions serve an important purpose when it comes to educating the general public and contributing to conservation efforts.

Of course, plenty of animal rights activists would disagree with that stance while arguing the various species that inhabit the attraction deserve to roam free as opposed to spending most (if not all) of their life in captivity.

That’s especially true when it concerns animals known for possessing a high degree of intelligence. That includes orcas (a.k.a. “killer whales”), which are known for the above-average brains they employ to stay at the top of the food chain with the help of the coordinated attacks they deploy to tame their prey.

The 2013 documentary Blackfish shined an incredibly harsh light on the issues that can arise when you keep orcas in captivity, and many activists have devoted an extraordinary amount of time and effort while lobbying to get the whales returned to the ocean.

That includes the people who successfully lobbied for the release of Lolita (also referred to as “Tokitae”), an orca who was captured in Puget Sound at the age of four in 1970 and has spent more than 50 years in an artificial habitat at the Miami Seaquarium.

This week, the aquarium announced it had signed a binding agreement with a group known as the “Friends of Lolita” to return the orca back to the waters she once roamed.

According to The Guardian, Lolita has at least one friend in a very high place in the form of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who reportedly forked over a “generous contribution” to facilitate the whale’s relocation.

Irsay took a victory lap during a press conference on Thursday where he had this to say about the development:

“I know she wants to get to free waters. I don’t care what anyone says. She’s lived this long to have this opportunity.”

While the timeline for Lolita’s release has yet to be finalized, the current plan would see her return to Puget Sound within the next 18 to 24 months.

Connor Toole avatar and headshot for BroBible
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.