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April 23, 2014

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Feds seek public comment on captive orca Lolita

Updated Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 | 11:04 a.m.

SEATTLE (AP) — Federal officials are seeking public comment on a proposal to have captive killer whale Lolita included in the endangered species listing for Puget Sound orcas.

Activists consider the announcement Friday by the National Marine Fisheries Service another 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 British Columbia waters. Lolita is a member of the L pod, or family of killer whales.

The federal government has listed these Southern Resident orcas as endangered species since 2005. The wild population numbers about 85.

Comments on the proposed rule are being accepted electronically, through the mail and by fax.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Orca Network and other animal rights groups filed a petition to encourage a rule change.