An orca known as Lolita could be heading back to her home waters in the Pacific Northwest, ending more than 50 years of tank captivity, after a deal was struck between the Miami Seaquarium and advocates pushing for her release.
The aquarium and the group Friends of Lolita say in a statement the orca could be relocated to an open ocean sanctuary in her home waters in the next 18 to 24 months.
Lolita is estimated to be 57 years old and has been in captivity in the Florida park since 1970, after being captured in the waters of Puget Sound in Washington state.
She was part of a pod of the endangered southern resident killer whales that roam waters off British Columbia and the U.S. northwest.
Eduardo Albor, CEO of The Dolphin Company, says finding a better future for Lolita was one of the reasons his company recently bought the aquarium.
Pritam Singh, co-founder of Friends of Lolita, says it's a "sacred privilege" to bring Lolita home under the terms of the binding agreement.