MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Lolita, Miami Seaquarium’s lone killer whale, is being retired after nearly 50-plus years on display.

The 20-foot tank she has called home for more than a century is being permanently closed to the public.

READ MORE: Miami-Dade Launches Building Blocks Fund For Affordable Housing

(CBS4)

The USDA granted MS Leisure Company Inc. – owner of the Miami Seaquarium – an exhibitor’s license under the condition it no longer displays Lolita and Lii, a white-sided dolphin.

“If, in the future, you intend to exhibit either of these animals (including posting any image of these animals on social media with the expectation of economic benefit), or resume using this pool for exhibition purposes, you will need to apply for a new license,” the USDA wrote to MS Leisure Company Inc.

“Today marks a new day for the Miami Seaquarium and all of the creatures within its care,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW LICENSE APPROVAL LETTER

The move was praised by PETA, who has repeatedly called for the release of Lolita.

(CBS4)

“For the first time ever, the USDA is taking some action by tacitly acknowledging that Lolita’s tank cannot meet her needs. PETA is calling for this to be the first step toward releasing Lolita (and Lii) to a seaside sanctuary, before this long-suffering orca ends up dying in the same cramped tank she’s been confined to for over half a century,” said PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman.

READ MORE: Saturday Is 'Kids To Park Day', Get Outside, Have Some Fun

For now, Lolita will remain at the Seaquarium, where officials said she’s healthy and eating well despite her advanced age.

“As with any animal who has exceeded their anticipated life span, we will continue to monitor and care for her closely,” the Seaquarium statement said.

Recently, the Seaquarium responded to claims from PETA that Lolita was “deathly sick from pneumonia” and “could now die any day.”

Dr. Shelby Loos, the Miami Seaquarium’s attending veterinarian, said the marine park noticed Lolita wasn’t feeling well after routine diagnostic tests, but that “despite her advanced age, she has been steadily improving and feeling better.”

Lolita the killer whale at the Miami Seaquarium on Feb. 8, 2022. (CBS4)

However, the statement did not specify what caused her bloodwork abnormalities.

Lolita, whose real name is Toki, is believed to be 56 years old, making her the oldest killer whale living in captivity.

She was caught on August 8, 1970, in Penn Cove, Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington when she was about 4 years old. She was later sold to the Miami Seaquarium. When she first arrived, she lived alongside another orca named Hugo for about 10 years, but he died in 1980.

MORE NEWS: Florida Man Who Killed Co-Worker Over Affair Gets Life In Prison

For years, animal rights groups have wanted Lolita moved to “a protected cove sea pen,” where she can be transitioned to the ocean.

Deborah Souverain