Feds Grant Approval for Legal Efforts to Free Lolita to Proceed

Agency Must Now Decide Whether to Offer Captive Orca the Same Protection Afforded Her Wild Kin

For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2013

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Miami — The National Marine Fisheries Service has found that PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and the Orca Network have presented “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that” their petition to have the solitary orca Lolita included in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of the Southern Resident orcas, the family she was taken from more than 40 years ago, “may be warranted.” The agency will now have nine months to determine whether Lolita’s unlawful and unexplained exclusion from her family’s listing should be reversed. The cruel exclusion has allowed the Miami Seaquarium to hold Lolita in the smallest orca tank in North America without the constraints of the ESA, which prohibits such harm and harassment.

“There is simply no lawful justification for excluding Lolita from the Endangered Species Act’s protection,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision is an important step toward ensuring that Lolita will finally receive the same protection offered to her family members, who are waiting for her in the ocean.”

“Lolita has swum circles in a tiny, barren tank for over 40 years,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is time for the government to grant her the protection she has been denied for many lonely decades.”

PETA, ALDF, and the Orca Network 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, Southern Resident orcas often spend their entire lives with their mothers. Lolita recognized her pod’s calls decades after being captured, and her mother is still thriving at more than 80 years of age.

For more information, please visit PETA.org and ALDF.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind