The federal government wants Lolita — the orca snared 44 years ago in Penn Cove by whale hunters who sold her to a Florida aquarium — protected under the Endangered Species Act.
(From The Seattle Times / by Craig Welch)– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Friday reversed itself and recommended the killer whale held by the Miami Seaquarium be governed by the same law that protects Puget Sound’s wild southern resident killer whales.
The move could have implications for other endangered species held by zoos and aquariums and almost certainly will lead to a re-evaluation of the conditions of Lolita’s captivity, which activists have complained about for years.
But it’s not clear how or if this will affect the decades-long campaign to have the former member of L pod returned to Washington.
Howard Garrett of Orca Network, which has led the charge for Lolita’s release, said that killer whales are such social animals he can’t see how NOAA would allow an endangered female orca to remain isolated from other southern residents.
“I think this is a very huge first step in the fantastic adventure of returning her to her home waters,” Garrett said. “You can’t put an endangered species into a circus act.”
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