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Feds Must Protect Orca Under Endangered Species Act or Supply a Legal Reason for Exclusion, Groups Say
For Immediate Release:January 23, 2013
Contact:Shakira Croce 202-483-7382
Miami -- According to the settlement agreement reached after
PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Orca Network, and four
individuals filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS) regarding the orca Lolita's unlawful exclusion from the Endangered
Species Act (ESA), the agency must now either include Lolita in the ESA listing
or supply a legal reason to exclude her. PETA and ALDF submitted a petition
today to the NMFS calling for Lolita to be listed as endangered, along with her
free-living family, the Southern Resident orcas. Lolita has been confined to
the smallest orca tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium for more than
40 years and has been without a companion since 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo,
reportedly died of a brain aneurysm after slamming his head into the side of
their concrete tank.
"By excluding Lolita from the endangered listing, the
government allows the Seaquarium to keep Lolita isolated in a tiny barren tank
and to force her to perform with no protection from the sun—all of which would
violate the ESA's protection against 'harm' and 'harassment,'" says PETA
Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders.
"ALDF and PETA are calling on the government to extend
the ESA's minimal protections to Lolita and will continue to push for her
return to the ocean and her family—where she belongs," says ALDF Executive
Director Stephen Wells.
Southern Resident orcas
were critically depleted in the 1960s and '70s, when dozens of them—including
Lolita—were captured for public display. Captive members of a species are, by
default, to be included in an endangered listing, and NMFS is prohibited from
considering commercial interests—such as the Seaquarium's—in its listing
For more information, please visit PETA.org and ALDF.org, or click here.
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.