Lolita the Orca Classified as Endangered; Groups May Now Sue to Force Her Release

The Magic City's biggest star, Lolita the orca at the Miami Seaquarium, has been entertaining crowds of tourists and locals with her incredible splash for more than 40 years. Today, Lolita, one of the oldest living orcas in captivity, has come one step closer to swimming out of the limelight and -- maybe -- into the open ocean, because NOAA Fisheries has just declared her as endangered.

Since 2005, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) specified that its protections of Southern Resident killer whales (which Lolita is a part of) did not apply to killer whales that were captive. However, in 2013, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted a strongly worded petition in unison with the Orca Network and the Animal Legal Defense Fund to NOAA Fisheries, urging that the government agency amend its listing of Southern Resident killer whales, of which there are less than 80 in the world, to include Lolita.

See also: March For Lolita at Virginia Key Beach Park (Photos)

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Jonathan Kendall
Contact: Jonathan Kendall