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Lawsuit Means Government Must Protect Deprived Orca Under Endangered Species Act or Supply a Legal Reason Why Not to Do So
For Immediate Release:October 12, 2012
Contact:David Perle 202-483-7382
Miami — Following a lawsuit filed by PETA and the Animal
Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to
reconsider its exclusion of the orca Lolita from the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) listing of the Southern Resident orcas—the family from which she was
taken more than 40 years ago. While endangered listings are to include captive
members of a species by default, Lolita—who is confined to the smallest orca
tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium—was unlawfully excluded without
explanation, allowing the Seaquarium to hold her in conditions that harm and
harass her and that would otherwise violate the ESA. Pursuant to the agreement,
PETA and ALDF will submit a new petition for Lolita to be included in the
listing with her family, and the agency must, within specified time periods,
decide whether her listing is warranted based solely on the biological status
of the Southern Resident orcas. The filing of the original lawsuit was handled
by the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein &
"Under the Endangered Species Act, no one can harm or
harass Southern Resident orcas—yet that is precisely what Lolita, a Southern
Resident orca, is experiencing in the smallest orca tank on the
continent," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law
Enforcement Delcianna Winders. "The government must now extend to Lolita
the same protection offered to her family in the wild and reunite her with her
pod, whose calls she recognized when they were played to her even after decades in captivity."
"This important step means that the National Marine
Fisheries Service must hold to the legally required timeframes that the
agency often ignores and cannot let PETA's and ALDF's petition to secure Lolita
the protection to which she is entitled languish indefinitely," says
Carter Dillard, ALDF's director of litigation.
PETA and ALDF want Lolita to be released into a seaside
sanctuary that is waiting for her in her home waters and, if possible, back
into her family pod. In the wild, female orcas spend their entire lives with
their mothers, and Lolita's mother is still thriving at more than 80 years of
For more information, please visit PETA's
blog and ALDF.org.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.