Press Releases

DelBene Welcomes News that Long-Captive PNW Orca Being Freed

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WASHINGTON, DC , March 30, 2023 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) released the following statement on the announcement that Tokitae, the world’s oldest captive orca that was ripped from her family in the Salish Sea, will be freed from the Miami Seaquarium.

“The Puget Sound never gave up on a better future for Tokitae and we all celebrate the news that she is being released from the Miami Seaquarium after more than 50 years of captivity. Given repeated concerns around Tokitae's health and the unacceptable enclosure she is currently held in, I will continue pushing for answers from the federal government into how a protected endangered animal’s condition became so dire. I want to especially thank all the activists and volunteer veterinarians who raised the alarm about Tokitae’s condition and everyone who contributed to today’s promising announcement.”


  • In July 2022, DelBene called for answers about the status of Tokitae and why her enclosure was exempted from a U.S. Department of Agriculture license despite her protected status under the Endangered Species Act.
  • DelBene secured a provision in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding law that directs federal agencies to prioritize updating standards of care regulations for captive marine mammals that are currently decades out of date. A report on the progress of updating these regulations is due in June 2023.
  • DelBene is a lead sponsor of the SWIMS Act, which would end the future capture and breeding of whales for public display in the U.S.
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