Key Biscayne, FL (February 25, 2022)— A newly formed non-profit called Friends of Lolita, Inc., founded by businessman and environmentalist Pritam Singh and comprised of a world-class team of renowned scientists and partner organizations, yesterday sent a letter to The Dolphin Company, the pending new Miami Seaquarium owners, offering goodwill, the team’s expert assistance, and financial resources to support Lolita’s comprehensive wellbeing.
Mr. Pritam Singh, working with world-renowned American whale biologist and environmentalist Dr. Roger Payne, will lead the Friends of Lolita team. Dr. Payne is famous for the discovery of humpback whale song and is known for his effective voice to bring an end to commercial whaling.
“Friends of Lolita is committed to doing whatever it can and whatever is required, by extending our hand in support of the long-term care for this beloved animal,” Mr. Singh said. “We have been fortunate to gather the scientific expertise and cultural communities with the financial resources to be able to collaborate with the owners of the Miami Seaquarium and support their efforts to provide the best care and highest quality of life for Lolita, now and in the future.”
The non-profit has committed to aid in providing comprehensive health assessments and the best care available, to ensure Lolita’s long-term health at her current location at The Miami Seaquarium and in the future.
“It is an honor for me to collaborate with Mr. Singh and this esteemed group of colleagues who together, will bring the highest quality care to the world’s most beloved whale, Lolita,” said Dr. Roger Payne.
Mr. Singh has also invited a team of marine mammal veterinarians, scientists, environmentalists and marine conservationists, including collaborating organizations, The Whale Sanctuary Project, and the Sacred Lands Conservancy members of the Lummi Tribe in the Pacific Northwest. For the Lummi, orcas are family members who live in their traditional waters of the Salish Sea.
“The hope for so many of us is to ensure that Lolita’s welfare comes first, so we can responsibly determine what is best for her now and in the future,” said Charles Vinick, executive director of the Whale Sanctuary Project.
Miami Seaquarium sits on Miami-Dade County land
“Friends of Lolita is ready to collaborate with The Miami Seaquarium in the care for Lolita – we are very happy that we have a serious solution for her welfare and future,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava. “The stars have aligned for Lolita: Now that the lease is changing hands, this world-class team is committing the resources this mission requires,” she added.
‘Friends of Lolita’ Whale Welfare Team:
Roger Payne, PhD (lead scientist) Biologist, marine mammal expert, environmentalist, discoverer of Humpback whale song
Ken Balcomb, PhD Marine Biologist and Orca expert, Founder, Center for Whale Research
Jean-Michel Cousteau, explorer, environmentalist, educator, and film producer
Jeff Foster, Site Search, Animal Transfer & Rehab Director, Whale Sanctuary Project
Katy Foster, Site Search and Animal Rehabilitation Coordinator, Whale Sanctuary Project
Deborah Giles, PhD, Orca expert, Research Director, Wild Orca, Research Scientist, University of Washington
Lori Marino, PhD, Founder and President, Whale Sanctuary Project
Diana Reiss, PhD Marine Mammal Scientist, Professor & Director, Animal Behavior & Conservation Graduate Programs, Hunter College
Squil-le-he-he (Raynell Morris), VP, Sacred Lands Conservancy
Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley), President, Sacred Lands Conservancy
Charles Vinick, Executive Director, Whale Sanctuary Project
Lolita’s History: From Then Till Now
Lolita (born in 1966), also known as Tokitae, is the female orca who has lived at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 50 years.
Lolita is part of the L-pod Southern Resident Killer Whale population. She was captured from the wild on August 8, 1970 in the Pacific Northwest when she was approximately four years old. Today, Lolita is the oldest Southern Resident Killer Whale in captivity. She is the second oldest killer whale in captivity in the entire world.
Like us, orcas are long-lived mammals. In fact, ‘L25 Ocean Sun’, believed to be Lolita’s mother, is an estimated 93 years of age, and is the matriarch of the L-pod. There is significant attention across the public, along with federal and local agencies, for Lolita’s welfare Now, Friends of Lolita is ready to collaborate with the Miami Seaquarium to assist the proper steps can be taken to provide her with appropriate, long-term care.
“I stand today with my colleagues and the global community to bring the best possible whale care to help Lolita. She has been in captivity for more than 50 years and today is a new beginning for her long term well-being,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, a world-renowned explorer, environmentalist, educator, and film producer.
“Every member of this group has committed to work with Friends of Lolita and with the Miami Seaquarium to assist in the care of Lolita,” said Dr. Diana Reiss, marine mammal scientist, a professor at Hunter College and past member of the animal welfare committee of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “We look forward to our team of vets and scientists with recognized expertise and experience collaborating with the Miami Seaquarium, on behalf of Lolita.”
“Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut, the orca also known as Lolita, is considered ours,” said Sacred Lands Conservancy President Tah-Mahs (Ellie Kinley). “Bringing her home to her native waters is our sacred obligation. We are grateful for and supportive of the plan proposed by Friends of Lolita. We are of one heart and one mind, to work together for our relation’s well-being.”
“My people, the Lhaq’temish, call killer whales qwe’lhol’mechen, which means “our relations under the waves. We know Lolita as Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (ska-lee-chux-tuh-not). She is part of our culture, our spirituality, our family, and we love and care for her as we do all of our family members. We need to start her healing now.”
For more information, please visit Friendsoflolita.org.