Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado said Tokitae’s body must be treated with respect and is expected to have a conversation about the future of the Seaquarium.
MIAMI, Florida – Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado grew up in Miami and has an intrinsic understanding of the connection many residents have with the orca Tokitae, whom many locals know by the stage name “Lolita.”
Tokitae, called by the Lummi nation Sk’aliCh’elh’tenautdied on Friday at about 1 p.m. Pacific time, according to the Miami Seaquarium.
“For us who grew up here, we grew up with her, so it’s tough because you have all these great childhood memories but as you grow up you realize that she doesn’t have a great life and she deserves better,” Regalado said. “It’s been a tough one for the people of Miami, especially those of us who grew up with her.”
Regalado was part of a press conference in March in which the new owner of the Miami Seaquarium, Eduardo Albor, along with the Mayor of Miami-Dade and a conservationist from Friends of Toki, announced intentions under monitor her health, forming a partnership that will lead to the decision to return Tokitae home.
“We are delighted at the prospect of her being freed but we know that she has been ill,” Regalado said. “She had a lot of health problems, she overcame them, but we’ve never been like that, she’s 100%. We’ve tried to manage expectations.”
Regalado said Miami-Dade County plans to celebrate life and see it as an opportunity to educate the next generation about the fact that wildlife is not entertainment and that people can do it. better as a society. She points to the past death of the whale Hugo and offers a contrast to how she says Tokitae’s death should be handled.
“It was a different owner and a different time,” Regalado said. “This time the county is very concerned, we have a very proactive owner – so we hope things get better. We have to have a conversation about what happens to the remains. and what we can do to remember her and what will happen to Seaquarium after the Toki incident.”
Regalado said this is a new chapter of the organization, which could change significantly under new ownership.
Friends with Toki’s Charles Vinick says discussions about Tokitae have formed new relationships between conservationists and marine parks – an encouraging development.
“She’s really been iconic in the case of the past year and a half, the way people who don’t necessarily communicate normally – those of us at Friends of Toki, those of us who have really supporting whales, talking and working hand in hand with a marine park owner, it’s never happened before,” Vinick said. “Did everything work out perfectly? Obviously not. This is horrible. It sucks, but being part of that legacy… how do we work with the people we’re with. disagree? How do we work with people with whom we have to find common ground? She allows us to do that.”