The National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) recently announced (pdf) a proposed amendment to the regulatory language of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for the Southern Resident killer whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS). The amendment would remove the language excluding captive members of the population from ESA protection. The Service’s action comes in response to a petition submitted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to include “Lolita” as a protected member of the DPS. Lolita, the sole captive member of the Southern Resident killer whale DPS, is currently precluded from receiving ESA protection.
The Southern Resident killer whale DPS was listed as endangered under the ESA in 2005. Lolita was collected from the wild in 1970. She is currently located at the Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Florida.