The orca known as Lolita appears to be one step away from returning to its natural habitat in the Pacific Northwest, after performing at a Miami tourist attraction for decades.
The animal was pulled from the ocean in 1970. But after a long dispute over where it belongs, officials from various parties announced a “binding agreement” on Thursday to bring Lolita, also known as Tokitae or Toki, back to its “home waters.” .
“Lolita will receive the highest quality care as the team works to make her relocation possible over the next 18 to 24 months,” Miami Seaquarium said in a statement Thursday.
“I know that Lolita wants to reach open water. I do not care what anyone else says. She has lived so long to have this opportunity. And my only mission is (…) to help free this whale,” said Jim Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts owner who is helping pay for Lolita’s move.
The cost, he said Thursday, could reach “eight figures.”