When female orca Lolita was four years old, she was separated from her herd in a bay off Seattle. That was in 1970 – since then the killer whale has lived in the Miami Seaquarium in Florida. A veterinarian later nicknamed her Tokitae, which means “nice day” in an indigenous language.

For more than 50 years, the orca has known nothing more than captivity in its 24 meter long and eleven meter wide tank. But that should change soon. Back in March, the aquarium announced that Lolita would be released and returned to the region where she was born. However, this also creates a major logistical challenge: How do you transport an animal that is six meters long and weighs more than 3000 kilograms and can only survive in water? Quite apart from the financial aspects of such an action…

Jim Irsay has a solution for both. As far as finances are concerned, anyway: The 64-year-old is a billionaire and owner of the NFL team Indianapolis Colts. Irsay wants to invest 20 million US dollars (the equivalent of more than 18 million euros) in relocating the female orca. And as soon as possible: “She’s healthy, I have the money, so let’s transport her,” he recently reaffirmed his plan in a podcast. “I know she wants to be out in the water,” Irsay said when Lolita’s release was publicly announced. “I don’t care what others say. She lived long enough to get this opportunity.”

The logistical problem remains. But Irsay and the operators of the aquarium in Miami have also devised a solution for this. The billionaire wants to provide a jet specifically for this purpose. Lolita is to be brought into a large glass tank with a suit of armor and then flown out to Seattle. There, the tank is to be transferred to a truck and taken to the Pacific Northwest – where the killer whale lady was once caught. There she is said to live in a special area where she is constantly observed. After such a long period of captivity, Lolita is unlikely to survive in the wild. The time frame for the campaign is 18 to 24 months.

For a long time, the 57-year-old female orca had to perform tricks in the aquarium, and she hasn’t taken part in shows since last year. Animal rights activists have been fighting for their release for years.

Quellen: The Pat McAfee Show / “The Times”

Watch the video: Orcas have attacked boats again in the Strait of Gibraltar. What is the reason for the behavior of the whales? A researcher explains possible reasons for the attacks to the science magazine “LiveScience”.