The federal government has decided that a captive killer whale that has been performing for decades at the Miami Seaquarium deserves the same protection as a small population of endangered orcas that spend time in Washington state waters.
But the National Marine Fisheries Service also said Wednesday that the whale's inclusion in the endangered listing does not impact the animal's stay at the Florida facility where she has been since 1970.
The agency says the Miami Seaquarium is not proposing to move the orca named Lolita. The facility's curator has said Lolita isn't going anywhere.
Animal rights groups say the decision opens the way for them to argue that the whale's living conditions violate provisions of the federal endangered-species law. They say she belongs in the wild.