Tokitae, also known as Lolita, has passed away from what is believed to be a renal condition. Ted Griffin, the man who first brought captive performing killer whales to the world, remembers vividly the day he caught Tokitae, one of some 100 orca whales captured behind a net in Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove. 'I certainly remember that day. I have no regrets for all the activities' Griffin said, hours after Tokitae‘s death was announced by the Miami Seaquarium, where she endured captivity for more than 50 years in the smallest tank in the business.
LYNDA V. MAPES: After spending more than five decades imprisoned by the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest, bleakest orca tank in the world, deprived of any semblance of a natural life, the long-suffering orca Lolita has passed away… Ted Griffin remembers vividly the day he caught Tokitae, one of some 100 orca whales captured behind a net in Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove.
“It was easy,” remembered Griffin, the man who first brought captive performing killer whales to the world, with his capture of Namu, a northern resident orca for his aquarium on the downtown Seattle waterfront. Griffin arrived in Seattle on July 28, 1965, with Namu in tow, to a hero’s welcome. He was given a key to the city…
After Namu died, catching whales became just a business for Griffin. There was public outcry at the capture at Penn Cove, witnessed by many. The state put its first limits on the hunts, establishing a live orca fishery. Not long after, Griffin left the business for good.
While Namu was his first orca capture, Griffin was just getting started, pursuing orcas in Puget Sound with high-speed chase boats, seal bombs and helicopters…
The capture at Penn Cove in August 1970 was his biggest.
“I certainly remember that day,” Griffin said Friday, hours after Tokitae‘s death was announced by the Miami Seaquarium, where she endured captivity for more than 50 years in the smallest tank in the business.
Tokitae, also known as Lolita, had exhibited “serious signs of discomfort” over the last two days, the Seaquarium said. She passed Friday afternoon from what is believed to be a renal condition. Griffin said he did not mourn Tokitae’s passing because he did not know her.
He deeply grieved Namu’s death; the whale lived less than a year in captivity, ultimately dying because of the untreated sewage and other pollution in Elliott Bay. As for his role in bringing the captive killer whale era to the world, his feelings were mixed. “I have no regrets for all the activities,” Griffin said. But he added, “I am sorry the whales passed away during the capture, and that they are not alive today”…
He remembered Tokitae well. She was small, about 10 or 12 feet long, and young. Easy to train, easy to ship, and easy to capture. “I am not saying she cooperated. But she didn’t fight us the way some whales, that are so skillful, no matter what you do, they won’t come around.”
Usually, Griffin said, he liked to spend some time with the orcas, bringing them back to his waterfront aquarium before he sent them on to his customers. “I like to get acquainted with my whales, and each of them had a unique something about them,” Griffin said. But with an order already in hand from the Seaquarium, and too many whales on hand as it was, he sent her directly to the airport for Miami. She was loaded in a sling and transferred to a flatbed truck and driven down the road to the airport. “There she went”. SOURCE…
PETA Statement re Death of the Orca Lolita:
She died as she had lived: After spending more than five decades imprisoned by the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest, bleakest orca tank in the world, deprived of any semblance of a natural life, the long-suffering orca Lolita has passed away. Her death follows years of PETA protests, lawsuits, an endangered species designation, and the recent announcement that, thanks to philanthropist and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, plans were finally being made to move her to a seaside sanctuary. PETA will hold a vigil in her honor outside the Seaquarium tonight at 8:30 p.m. and tomorrow at 3 p.m. Please see the following statement from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk:
Kind people begged the Miami Seaquarium to end Lolita’s hellish life in a concrete cell and release her to a seaside sanctuary, where she could dive deep, feel the ocean’s currents, and even be reunited with the orca believed to be her mother, but plans to make this move came too late, and Lolita was denied even a minute of freedom from her grinding 53 years in captivity.
PETA urges families to honor her memory by never visiting marine parks and is calling on the Seaquarium to continue with plans to send the dolphin who was Lolita’s tankmate to a seaside sanctuary, along with all the other dolphins, before the death toll rises, and for SeaWorld to learn from this tragedy and relinquish the orca Corky, who has been imprisoned in tiny tanks for nearly 54 years, before she shares Lolita’s fate. May all wild animals be free!
Lolita, who was captured from the wild in 1970 along with other orcas who were sent to SeaWorld parks, lived at the Miami Seaquarium without another orca from the time her companion, Hugo, died in 1980 after repeatedly ramming his head into the tank wall. The Seaquarium then held Lolita in a tank with incompatible dolphins who attacked her. She displayed repetitive and abnormal behavior, which, according to marine-mammal experts, indicated severe psychological trauma.
Late last year, PETA obtained a damning federal inspection report revealing that the Seaquarium had restricted dolphins’ food by up to 60% for months in order to make them obedient for performances, among other incidents. In 2021, a 17-page federal inspection report revealed that the facility had failed to provide Lolita with sufficient shade, reduced her food intake against veterinary instruction, and forced her to perform in ways that likely injured her.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture subsequently elected not to allow the Seaquarium’s new owner, The Dolphin Company, to exhibit Lolita publicly—paving the way for the plan to transfer her to a seaside sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest, where the dolphins kept at the Seaquarium could still go. SOURCE…