Li’i, Lolita’s Pacific white-sided dolphin companion at the Miami Seaquarium, was transferred Sunday night to SeaWorld San Antonio, where she will be reunited with two calves, her former partner Piquet and three other members of his species.
Li’i, who weighs 90 kilograms and is considered an old dolphin at the age of 40, was transported in a container filled with cold water on a chartered Boeing 767 and accompanied by two veterinarians. and a trainer.
“Li’i’s trip was successful,” said Dr. Christopher Dold, the chief zookeeper at SeaWorld. “It was an old dolphin that didn’t move at all, but was very calm throughout the flight. We took her out of the water early this morning and she is alert and active. He will see other animals that he will soon be with.”
Once Li’i is oriented to her new home, she will be moved to one of SeaWorld’s largest habitats, a 2.5 million gallon pool, which she will share with the belugas and the another six Pacific white-sided dolphins.
Li’i, caught off the coast of California, has been living in the Whale Bowl tank with Lolita since 1983.
Lolita, also known by her Native American name Tokitae and her nickname Toki, died on August 18 at the age of 57, after spending 53 years at the Seaquarium, citing kidney failure as the cause of death.
“Our main goal is to provide the greatest benefit for Li’i in a place where he can live with other dolphins of his species,” said Dr. Guillermo Sánchez, chief veterinarian of The Dolphin Company, owner of the Seaquarium and 29 other facilities .Worldwide. “When Toki died we immediately started planning for Li’i’s future. “San Antonio has a lot of experience with geriatric animals.”
After going through several transfer drills in the cold water container of the Seaquarium, Li’i’s flight left Miami at 10 pm on Sunday.
The Fisheries Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved the transfer. It is endorsed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
“Once again, SeaWorld’s compassionate professionals stepped up to provide a home and sanctuary to an animal in need, accepting the call to help the last remaining Pacific white-sided dolphin at the Miami Seaquarium,” he said. Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “Transferring animals safely, between zoological facilities or for reintroduction into the wild, is common practice in zoos, and SeaWorld is a leader among leaders.” The Dolphin Company, which currently operates four AZA-accredited facilities, is committed to improving the facilities and standards of care at the Miami Seaquarium. “AZA looks forward to continuing to work with them toward that goal.”
The Seaquarium transferred the other Pacific white dolphins, Elelo and Loki, a mother-and-son pair, to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on August 3.
The Seaquarium is awaiting the results of Lolita’s necropsy, which was conducted at the University of Georgia.
“The samples have been sent from the university to the laboratories and we hope to receive the results soon,” said Sánchez.