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Lolita, the iconic orca from the Miami Seaquarium, has died: "Unfortunately, Tokitae will not see her home again"

Lolita's caregivers had begun implementing a plan, drawn up in March, to release her in two years.

Captura de pantalla de la orca Lolita.

(Twitter: Miami Seaquarium)

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"Over the last two days, Toki (or Lolita) started exhibiting serious signs of discomfort. Despite receiving the best possible medical care, she passed away Friday afternoon," the Miami Aquarium reported the death of the orca Lolita on social media. It was believed to have died of a kidney condition.

Last March, the aquarium had announced a historic agreement to release the orca, which lived in captivity since the age of four. In 2021 a campaign led by animal rights organizations and supported by numerous celebrities got the aquarium to suspend her shows.

The aquarium, which will be closed Saturday in honor of the orca, had begun implementing the plan to release her within two years. Jim Irsay, owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts, played a key role in the agreement. Irsay posted a goodbye message on social media:

I am heartbroken that Toki has left us. Her story captured my heart, just as it did millions of others. I was honored to be part of the team working to return her to her indigenous home, and I take solace in knowing that we significantly improved her living conditions this past year. Her spirit and grace have touched so many. Rest in peace, dear Toki.

"On behalf of Miami-Dade County's almost 3 million residents, we are profoundly saddened to hear of Lolita's, also known as Totitae or Toki, sudden passing," Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement.

Alongside the many Miamians who grew up visiting her, the generations of activists around the world that were inspired by her story, and the caretakers who remained dedicated to her until the end — today, we say our final goodbye to our beloved Toki.

"Unfortunately, Tokitae will not see her home again. She died at the Miami Aquarium where she had been for so long after being taken from her home waters," Rep. Rick Larsen posted.