• Lummi Nation leads new push to bring orca home

    By: Essex Porter


    The Lummi nation calls her Tokitae, but for 48 years the Orca has been known as Lolita.

    She was captured in Penn Cove in 1970 and shipped to the Miami Seaquarium to be part of the entertainment.

    Today representatives of the Lummi nation traveled to Miami.

    Their mission: to persuade the Seaquarium to let Tokitae come back home.

    “This is not about us, this is not about us. This is about the right thing to do,” said Lummi Nation councilmember Freddie Lane at a news conference.

    The former mayor of Miami Beach is on their side.

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    “They don't listen, they want to do what they want to do. They don't care and I think the most important thing to realize is that the only way this is going to happen is for the pressure. Pressure from the media, pressure from the customers, pressure from the people. And letting the seaquarium know that this will not stand,” said Phillip Levine, who is also running for Governor.

    But the lesson of Keiko hangs over this quest.

    After years as a captive, whale scientists tried to return her to the wild near Iceland in 2002.

    They patiently introduced her to the ocean.

    But he never really found a family and ultimately swam to Norway, where she died of pneumonia in 2003.

    The Miami Seaquarium says they don't want their Lolita to meet a similar fate.

    "Any discussion about relocating Lolita to a sea-pen is not in her best interest and so, it is not something that we will consider,"  the Seaquarium said in a statement to the Miami Herald.

    But the Orca Network here, has always said Tokitae can thrive in Puget Sound.

    Susan Berta-Orca Network/With Lolita, said, "We know her family, we know where they are. I would love to see a happy ending to that story."

    The Lummi nation plans to keep the pressure on with a 27-day, 9000-mile Tokitae totem pole journey that will end in Miami at the end of May.

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