After 50 years of performing and entertaining visitors at the Miami Seaquarium in Florida, Lolita, the killer whale, is set to be released back in her home waters in the Pacific Northwest.
Lolita, also known as Tokitae, was taken from the ocean in 1970 when she was seven. Lolita has spent the last 53 years living in a tank that is 80 feet long and 35 feet wide. She has not performed for the past year due to health issues.
"Lolita will receive the highest quality care as the team works to make relocation possible in the next 18 to 24 months," Miami Seaquarium said in a statement.
Officials believe that Lolita's mother is still alive and hope they can reunite the pair.
"(There's) the opportunity for her to acoustically connect with her family, without a doubt," Charles Vinick, the executive director of the Whale Sanctuary Project, told WPLG. "So, acoustically, yes, and potentially physically over time."
Moving the 5,000-pound orca whale is not going to be an easy task and could require the use of a 747 plane or a C-17 military plane to transport Lolita across the country.
In addition, after spending years in captivity, Lolita has to be taught how to live in the wild again.
"I know Lolita wants to get to free waters. I don't care what anyone says. She's lived this long to have this opportunity. And my only mission is (…) to help this whale get free," said Jim Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts owner who is helping to pay for Lolita's move.
The cost to relocate Lolita could top eight figures.