“The 2005 endangered listing for Southern Resident Killer Whales, a distinct population of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, excluded captive animals. In 2013, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups petitioned NOAA Fisheries to drop the exclusion so the listing would also include Lolita. In early 2014 NOAA Fisheries proposed to drop the exclusion. Since then the agency has further reviewed scientific evidence and more than 17,000 public comments to arrive at a final decision.” (NOAA).
While Lolita is now aboard NOAA’s ark, she is no closer to swimming with her wild family members – which is ironic considering her inclusion just increased the population by one percent, about the same factor as the birth of their latest calf. But then again, had Lolita not been taken in the first place or even returned at a younger age most likely she would have had several calves.
Instead, she fell down a bureaucratic rabbit hole into a tiny tank, where the only people who are concerned for her right to adequate space and companionship seem powerless to help her.
NOAA also seems fairly powerless to help Lolita, according to their recent press conference, but they did an excellent job of presenting the facts and explaining what the endangered species classification can, and cannot, do for Lolita. Their audio news conference was edited for this video, but all the pertinent information is present.
I just wish I could have detected a tone of sympathy for Lolita or regret by NOAA at their powerlessness but to be fair these are very competent individuals reporting in their official capacity.