Li’i the Dolphin, Lolita’s Miami Seaquarium Tankmate, Moved to SeaWorld in Texas


In the wake of issues that Li’i would languish in his Miami Seaquarium pool following the loss of life of his longtime tankmate, Lolita the orca, the dolphin has been moved to a brand new house in Texas.

On Monday, the Miami Seaquarium introduced that it had accomplished its transport of Li’i, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, to SeaWorld San Antonio. The dolphin spent a long time dwelling with Lolita earlier than the famed killer whale’s loss of life final month.

Activists had raised issues over Li’i’s unsure destiny within the cramped and crumbling tank in Miami following Lolita’s loss of life, with some advocating for his relocation to a different marine park and others calling for his launch to a seaside sanctuary.

“After the departure of Lolita, our animal care consultants steered his relocation to a habitat with different friends of his species, and our efforts to search for his well-being took him to SeaWorld in San Antonio,” Miami Seaquarium wrote in an announcement. “Although we are going to very a lot miss him, we really feel completely satisfied to know that is the perfect for him.”

Magdalena Rodriguez, a former Miami Seaquarium veterinarian, tells New Times that she’s assured Li’i, an aged dolphin, will stay out a greater life in Texas surrounded by members of the family together with his daughter Ohana, who was additionally confined on the Seaquarium earlier than she was transferred to San Antonio years in the past.

Rodriguez cared for Lolita, Li’i, and different marine mammals on the Seaquarium from the late Nineteen Nineties till she was fired in 2021 after alleged fallout over her drawing consideration to issues of safety affecting animals on the park underneath its earlier proprietor, Palace Entertainment.

The veterinarian says the final two years have been possible disturbing for Li’i as Lolita battled a persistent an infection that led her well being to deteriorate.

“Li’i ought to be in good firm and a lot better palms,” Rodriguez says. “His daughter, Ohana, is a really personable dolphin that I’m positive will socialize with him.”

Alongside veterinarians and a coach, the 200-pound dolphin was chartered to the marine park in Texas on Sunday through a Boeing 767 in a container crammed with chilly water. He has since been reunited with two offspring, a former companion, and three different members of his species, based on the Miami Herald.

Li’i, who was captured off the coast of California within the Eighties, had been dwelling on the Seaquarium since 1983.

On August 18, after greater than 5 a long time in captivity — and amid a headline-grabbing mission to relocate her to an enclosure in her native Salish Sea — Lolita (also called Tokitae or Toki) died on the estimated age of 57.

The day Lolita died, a Florida lady named Ashlyn Rittenhouse created a petition to relocate Li’i to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which amassed greater than 9,000 signatures.

Following the orca’s loss of life, the poor state of her tank raised questions on whether or not her dwelling situations have been accountable for her failing well being. A former Seaquarium veterinarian, Jenna Wallace, advised New Times that persistent water high quality points and a discount in Lolita’s weight-reduction plan by greater than 25 % possible performed a task in her preliminary deterioration.

In 2021, the stadium was closed off from public entry and issued an unsafe-structure discover by Miami-Dade County, whose inspectors discovered that the power was in a state of disrepair.

Li’i’s transfer has been celebrated by the Seaquarium and a subset of activists, however not everyone seems to be happy with the choice.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s government vice chairman, Tracy Reiman, accused Miami Seaquarium of “violating” a promise to launch Li’i to a seaside sanctuary, as some animal rights teams had demanded.

“Condemning [Li’i] to spend the remainder of his life in one more concrete cell, the Miami Seaquarium has failed this long-suffering dolphin, simply because it failed Lolita,” Reiman wrote in an announcement. “Li’i deserves the prospect to return to his ocean house, to discover, dive, and eventually really feel some sense of freedom after almost 35 years spent in a chlorinated concrete tank.”

Miami Seaquarium tells New Times {that a} sea pen was not accessible with the veterinary care essential to take care of the dolphin.

“It is in the perfect curiosity of Li’i to stay with different members of his personal species. His superior age and well being situations require specialised care, none of which is out there in a sea pen immediately,” the Seaquarium says in an announcement.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Li’i was the final remaining Pacific white-sided dolphin at Miami Seaquarium.

The Seaquarium nonetheless displays bottlenose dolphins at stay reveals and sells tickets to “trip” them round a pool. For a $249 “Royal Swim,” guests can “really feel the joys of driving on two dolphins on this intimate and distinctive expertise,” the park advertises on its web site.

SeaWorld San Antonio has its Pacific white-sided dolphins, together with Ohana, carry out on the Beluga Stadium, the place they’re educated to leap out of the water in unison and flip by the air.

Though SeaWorld ended its orca breeding program in 2016, the San Antonio park nonetheless has 5 captive orcas. The final orca born in SeaWorld captivity was Kyara, who died on the Texas facility three months after start.


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