Imaginaerum – Official Trailer
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Forty years ago a young killer whale was captured just off of Whidbey Island and sold to Florida as a theme park attraction. Today she is known as Lolita, the performing whale of the Miami Seaquarium. She may soon see freedom again though as animal-rights activists petition for her release under the terms of the Endangered Species Act.
The Endangered Species Act, or ESA, came into legislation in 1973. The law states it is illegal to “take” an animal that is on the list of endangered species, where “‘take’ means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect” an animal on said list.
Under this stipulation, animal-rights activists are claiming the continued holding of Lolita the killer whale should be considered harassment. Because the law suit is against federal government and not the Miami Seaquarium itself legal experts believe the case could present less hurdles. The implications of the case could reach out farther and apply to other zoos and theme parks with captive animals.
Many are still skeptical though about how well the move will work. Patrick Parenteau, a law professor at the University of Vermont, does not think the law will apply to an animal captured before the legislation came into play.
The problem with releasing a whale that has been held in captivity so long is the chance of survival. The Miami Seaquarium argues since she has come to trust humans such behavior could prove detrimental to her survival if released into Puget Sound, where orcas were recently listed as an endangered species, because of all the human activity that goes on around there.
Whatever the outcome of this case, it is sure to affect the future of all other animals captured prior to the passing of the Endangered Species Act.