"Lolita should never have been excluded from the Endangered Species Act in the first place, and now the government has righted that wrong," says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. "Lolita has suffered in that tank every day for more than four decades, and PETA is working hard to see her one day freed from her ordeal."
Activists have long called for the whale's retirement -- she is held in the smallest orca tank in North America. Lolita has also been without another orca since 1980, a fact that is considered inhumane, because orcas are such social creatures and often live in pods of more than 20 individuals.
It's likely that after 40 years in captivity, Lolita will not be released back into the wild. Some contend that Lolita could be released in the wild, because she may be able to reunite with her former pod. Others say that life in a sea pen would be better, since she has become accustomed to relying on humans. But either way, says marine biologist Candace Calloway Whiting in The Huffington Post, the "time has come" for her retirement.