Animal rights activists continue to protest Miami Seaquarium (includes video story)

People gathered in front of the Miami Seaquarium on Sept. 2 to draw attention to concerns over what’s going to happen to Li’i, the dolphin that lived with Lolita the orca.

Lolita, otherwise known as Toki was Miami Seaquarium’s main performer, She died on Aug. 18. She was believed to be 57 years old and lived in captivity in Miami for 53 years, where she suffered health problems last fall and never fully recovered, according to a report by the Miami Herald.

In an Instagram post announcing her death, the Miami Seaquarium said that Toki died from a renal condition.

Lolita’s shows ended in 2021 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Miami-Dade Unsafe Structures division raised concerns about the conditions her tank was in. In 2022, the Dolphin Company purchased the Miami Seaquarium and announced that Lolita would retire from performing.

Non-profit group Friends of Toki and owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, partnered with the Miami Seaquarium and planned on moving Lolita to a seaside sanctuary in Washington state but could not secure federal permits or water rights to create a 7,000 sea pen, according to the Miami Herald. 

“Animals like this don’t belong in captivity,” said Colleen Sola, a protestor outside the Seaquarium. “They are so smart. They belong in deep, deep ocean waters. Her family is still alive. There’s a lot that can be done and a lot that needs to be done.”

Daniela Zulueta is pursuing her master’s degree in global strategic communications and graduated from FIU with a bachelor’s degree in digital broadcasting in 2023. She also holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Miami Dade College. Zulueta loves the city of Miami and aims to share the stories of the citizens who live here and all over the world. Zulueta runs a social media platform with her husband called @Lifestyle_Miami where she works with local businesses and does community based work. Currently, she works for NBC6 South Florida & Telemundo51 as a stage manager and wants work both behind the scenes and as an on-air talent.