Watch CBS News

Miami Seaquarium Lolita's companion dolphin Li'i moved to new home

CBS News Live
CBS News Miami Live

MIAMI - A Pacific white sided dolphin named Li'i, who spent the last years being a companion to Lolita the orca whale at the Miami Seaquarium, has a new home.

On Monday, the Miami Seaquarium announced that Li'i, who had been with them for 35 years, had been successfully moved to SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas. There he is in a habitat with other dolphins of his same species.

"After the departure of Lolita, our animal care experts suggested his relocation to a habitat with other peers of his specie and our efforts to look for out his well-being took him to SeaWorld in San Antonio. Although we will very much miss him, we feel happy to know this is the best for him," Miami Seaquarium posted on X, formerly Twitter.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was not happy about the move.   

"By violating its promise to send Li'i to a seaside sanctuary and condemning him to spend the rest of his life in yet another concrete cell, the Miami Seaquarium has failed this long-suffering dolphin, just as it failed Lolita. Li'i deserves the chance to return to his ocean home, to explore, dive, and finally feel some sense of freedom after nearly 35 years spent in a chlorinated concrete tank. PETA urges the Seaquarium to give him the peaceful oceanic retirement he is owed and send him to a seaside sanctuary," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a statement.

Lolita, the killer orca whale who has been in captivity for at least five decades, died in Miami on Aug. 19 as local officials were preparing to send her back to her home waters.

Seaquarium officials said Lolita, who was also known by her Native American name of Tokitae, or "Toki," had been showing "serious signs of discomfort" over the past two days before she died.

Officials said the whale died from what was believed to be a renal condition. The animal's death sparked an outpouring of protests and condolences.

She was believed to be at least 57 years old, making her the oldest killer whale living in captivity.

Lolita was captured on Aug. 8, 1970, in Penn Cove in the Puget Sound area in Seattle when she was about 4 years old. She was later sold to the Miami Seaquarium.

For years, animal rights groups had wanted Lolita moved to "a protected cove sea pen," where she could be transitioned to the ocean. And in late March, county officials announced a plan to release her from captivity.

Last week, Lolita's remains were returned to Washington state where she was mourned and honored according to the Lummi Nation tribe customs.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.