SeaWorld says Tilikum is “beginning to deteriorate,” which likely means that the long-suffering orca who actually has deteriorated for years is dying.
While it’s too late to release Tilikum, who was captured as a youngster more than three decades ago off Iceland, the Puget Sound’s own Lolita can still know freedom.
A “retirement” plan would reverse her 1970 capture in a Whidbey Island cove, a tragedy in which seven oracas were ensnared.
“The waters churned and boiled white with agitated whales fighting to escape from the confining nets,” Sandra Pollard wrote in the book “Puget Sound Whales for Sale,” as quoted in an extensive look at the subject by The Stranger.
“Their desperation and terror was all too apparent as they spy-hopped repeatedly, raising their strikingly colored black-and-white heads from the water”—to look around—”coupled with high-pitched shrieks and cries echoing across the usually tranquil cove,” she wrote.
A witness told The Stranger, “It was the weirdest sound I have ever heard in my life. Like babies crying but much louder.“
Lolita — also known as Tokitae — is the only orca captured that day who’s still alive.
An 8-minute video depicts her daily life at the Miami Seaquarium.
A member of L-pod, she belongs to the Southern Resident population, which includes “Granny,” an orca believed to be more than a century old.
It’s time to bring Lolita/Tokitae home, as outlined in a retirement plan with action items we can do to move that agenda forward.
In addition, please join us at the Empty the Tanks event at Westlake Park near Pike Place Market on Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m.
Let’s keep up the pressure to free Lolita/Tokitae, so she can enjoy a life in open waters rather than lingering and dying as Tilikum is.
Photos from NOAA