Press Releases

DelBene Urges Relocation of Oldest Captive Orca Ahead of Hurricane Season

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) is urging immediate action to ensure the safety of Tokitae – also known as Lolita – the world’s oldest captive orca who has lived at the Miami Seaquarium since she was captured from the Puget Sound in 1970.

“We urge you to expeditiously explore all available options, in both the short-term and long-term, to ensure Tokitae’s safety,” the lawmakers wrote. “This includes consideration of whether Tokitae should be moved, at least on a temporary basis, to a more suitable location until any plans to bring her to a more permanent location can be solidified and the necessary permits obtained.”

The lawmakers expressed alarm about the imminent threat posed by the current Atlantic hurricane season, pointing to the significant damage and debris that occurred during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

In March, Miami Seaquarium, Friends of Toki, and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced that Tokitae will be released from the Miami Seaquarium after more than 50 years of captivity. However, Tokitae's health and the enclosure she is currently held in, which received a repair or demolish order in 2021, is a major cause for concern while the complicated process of her transfer is worked out.

In July 2022, DelBene called for answers about Tokitae’s legal status and why her enclosure was exempted from a U.S. Department of Agriculture license despite her protected status under the Endangered Species Act.

The letter is signed by Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11).

A copy of the letter can be found here.