Lolita, the lone orca at the Miami Seaquarium who was captured in the wild at age 4, has spent the past 46 years in the tiniest orca tank in America. She hasn't seen another orca in 26 years.
Newly released court testimony, which had been confidential until now, reveals that she isn't just the world's loneliest orca — she's also one of the world's sickest.
The list of Lolita's mental and physical health problems is extensive. Here's just a little of what experts, who visited Lolita to observe her living conditions, had to say about Lolita's health:
"[Lolita] has been diagnosed with a pterygium, also called 'surfer's eye.' This is caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation [and] leads to discomfort … and can cause a significant alteration in visual function," Dr. Pedro Javier Gallego Reyes, veterinarian and cofounder of marine biology association Odyssea wrote, citing the lack of shade in Lolita's tiny pool as a contributing factor. Essentially, Lolita cannot escape the sunlight, so she's getting to the point that she can't even see.
Reyes also said that Lolita appears to be a "chronically ill patient with frequently recurring infections and mildly impaired kidney function … This frequent medication can have, and may have already had, negative impacts on her liver and kidneys."
Another expert agreed. "Lolita appeared to be under a constant stream of medications, spanning from eye drops to antibiotics and heavy painkillers," Maddelena Bearzi, president of Ocean Conservation Society, wrote. "In 2015 alone, there was not a day during the course of the year that she wasn't under one or more medications … Killer whales in the wild do not need human-made medications and their life span is longer than that of their captive counterparts."
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