SEATTLE — Federal officials have proposed including captive killer whale Lolita in the endangered-species listing for Puget Sound orcas.
Activists consider the announcement Friday by the National Marine Fisheries Service a step toward releasing the whale that was captured in 1970 and is now at the Miami Seaquarium.
Her fellow orcas spend most of their time in Washington’s Puget Sound and in British Columbia waters. Lolita is a member of the L pod family of killer whales.
The federal government has listed these Southern Resident orcas as endangered species since 2005. The wild population currently numbers about 85.
“Lolita should never have been excluded from the Endangered Species Act in the first place, and now the government has righted that wrong,” Jeffrey Kerr, general counsel to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said in a statement.
Steven Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said his group and others are doing everything they can to get Lolita back to her family and her habitat.
Comments on the proposed listing of Lolita are being accepted electronically, through the mail and by fax.