Lolita’s Safety and Well-Being Leads Advocates to Appeal to Court for Her Protection

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on March 24, 2015

On behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, PETA, and Orca Network, animal law attorneys will be in court today to advocate for Lolita, a lonely orca trapped in the smallest orca tank in North America, at the infamous Miami Seaquarium. The Seaquarium has blatantly violated the federal Animal Welfare Act, which governs protections for Lolita. Yet its license has been rubber-stamped repeatedly despite the illegal and wretched conditions in which Lolita is held. She is trapped in the equivalent of a bathtub, year after year, with no orca companion or shelter from the sun and other weather conditions.


Today, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami will hear oral argument in the groups’ lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for renewing the Seaquarium’s license despite knowing that the facility is perpetually in violation of at least three regulations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. The groups’ lawsuit against the USDA was dismissed in March 2014. An appeal was filed last June.

The law is certainly on Lolita’s side. She is not only protected by the Animal Welfare Act, but also the Endangered Species Act. In February 2015, advocates cheered when the National Marine Fisheries Service, as a result of a petition by ALDF, PETA, and Orca Network, granted Lolita the same protections under the Endangered Species Act that protect her family in the wild. Yet she is still swimming endless circles in the pathetic conditions at the Seaquarium.

Despite the legal protection Lolita is entitled to under the Animal Welfare Act, however, the USDA has failed to enforce the law.

What does this mean for Lolita? It means our government is allowing the Seaquarium to abuse an endangered species, by rubber-stamping the park’s license no matter what conditions Lolita suffers, or how many times the park breaks the law.

Lolita was originally kidnapped from her family in the horrific 1970 Penn Cove roundup in Puget Sound. In the wild, orcas spend their entire lives with their mothers. Lolita’s mother still thrives in a seaside sanctuary off the coast of Washington, waiting for her daughter to come home. Instead, the Miami Seaquarium forces her to entertain crowds in a shallow and barren tank that doesn’t come anywhere close to the minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. She has been exploited in these inhumane conditions for 45 years.

It is well past time for Lolita’s suffering to come to an end, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund will continue to speak up for Lolita. Stay tuned for updates in our Lolita timeline, and read more about Lolita’s plight in her ALDF feature story.

32 thoughts on “Lolita’s Safety and Well-Being Leads Advocates to Appeal to Court for Her Protection

  1. Victoria Bustamante says:


  2. Cinthia Tapia says:

    good luck guys!!!!

  3. mercedes says:

    let lolita go!

  4. Nancy DeLong says:

    Good luck in Court. Lolita should be moving towards release to her family. My thoughts are with her and those fighting for her freedom. Let today be the day she wins her freedom and a return to her family. I cannot believe the cruelty she has endured, and still she remains. Soon she will be free!

  5. jill vangel says:

    It is time for Lolita to have her life back. She doesn’t need to “serve a Life sentence” for just being born an Orca

  6. Johanna Markson says:

    give Lolita the life she deserved. Let her go to her family.

  7. There is a disconnect between the law to protect Lolita and the “don’t look” renewal process of licenses by USDA. Further the US Dept of Agriculture should not even be involved in stock of non-foods animals. The laws need to be revised for all involved.

  8. Louise Boyce says:

    This magnificent creature is suffering both mental and physical torment in order that morons be entertained. Release Lolita to a rescue and rehabilitation specialist team to erase the horrors inflicted by humans.

  9. Miritza says:

    Please free this beautiful and humble animal she deserves better

  10. Rebecca Saunders says:

    Iam praying you can help her.

  11. Donna R. D'Fini says:

    Return this kidnapped sea creature..kept in horrible confinement and return her to her family…let her have some happiness at last.
    the USDA is getting a horrible rep. Enforce this law.

  12. Dede Bacro says:

    This poor creature has lived in torture for 45 years… please grant her some peace in her old age…

  13. casi mahlberg says:

    #captivity #orcas Lolita set her free! What seaworld is being aloud to do is outrageous and I cannot believe that this is happening in m Is happening in the USA

  14. Åsa Sarnus says:

    Let her be free, this is horrible and humans(!) should not do this…We are the worst kind…Mankind.

  15. Elaine jones says:

    I shared this on Facebook; what is the money being (donations) used for?

  16. Jeannie says:

    It is time to end slavery for all!

  17. Michelle Lott says:

    As an endangered species, this abuse towards Lolita should effectively end. This enclosure is not legal, and there is a plan for her to return to her home waters in the natural seawater where she was born. She deserves the chance to be a real whale again, and retire from show business. She has made her owners millions of dollars, in spite of living in horrid conditions. The tide is changing and she deserves to catch the next wave.

  18. Joanne says:

    Set Lolita free!

  19. Michelle says:

    It’s time to free Lolita..she has committed no set her free !

  20. Anne G. Liversidge says:

    Justice needs to be served. NOW.

  21. Porscha says:

    let her go! Shame on you all for the way you have kept her and mistreated her.

  22. Yvonne says:

    Lolita needs to be set free and sent home to the ocean where she belongs. No animal should be held in captivity to just “entertain” people and line the pockets of greedy companies. It’s inhumane…not to mention the ethical and morality issues standing behind her mistreatment. I’d love to dish back the treatment to the individuals who run the company. I honestly think they should live in the same conditions as Lolita and see how they like it. I’m sure they’d re-think things quickly. Then again…common sense isn’t so common these days.

  23. Manuela says:


  24. Please free Lolita and any whale being held in captivity. Humans need to take care of whales and other animals not keep them in tanks or cages.

  25. connie says:

    good luck and bless you for you fighting to protect innocent animals.

  26. sharon chang says:

    the USDA is useless!let the animal rights advocates decide what happens to these poor creatures,not some useless,corrupt government agency!

  27. lawrence ditieri says:

    please free this whale and let her live the rest of her life as she shold. animals should not be for our entertainment

  28. Cher Dale says:

    Kindness Matters to All Living Beings ––

  29. Tina says:

    What became of this suit? Also, the link to the petition is a dead end.

  30. Karen says:

    From Australia.. What the bloody hell are you doing to Lolita? How friggen hard is it just to set her free?

  31. LaNette McDermott says:

    We use and abuse animals for our sick entertainment, greed and selfishness. A sad state we are in as humans to allow this. Do the RIGHT thing. Take the RIGHT action and be on the RIGHT side of humanity. Let this sweet animal out of her chains!! Let Lolita out!!!!!!

  32. nancy lowe says:

    Let Lolita go. Stop the power struggle

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