Lolita is an orca held captive at the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest orca tank in North America. The following is a timeline of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s work to free Lolita.

For a more in-depth overview of our work to free Lolita, read our feature article.

Timeline of Events

  • June 1, 2016—A judge rules against the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA’s Endangered Species Act case to free Lolita. Both groups vow to continue fighting for justice.
  • May 18, 2016—A coalition including ALDF sued the USDA for issuing an exhibitor’s license to Miami Seaquarium’s new owner.
  • July 20, 2015—A coalition including ALDF, PETA, Orca Network, and Orca Network director Howard Garrett hit the Miami Seaquarium with a lawsuit contending that the facility’s imprisonment of suffering orca Lolita constitutes a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
  • March 24, 2015—ALDF, PETA, Orca Network present oral arguments in the appeal of their lawsuit challenging the USDA’s approval of the Miami Seaquarium’s Animal Welfare Act license.
  • February 4, 2015—NMFS announces a rule granting Lolita the same protections afforded to her family in the wild under the Endangered Species Act.
  • June 2014—ALDF appeals a district court’s decision that the USDA did not violate the law by renewing the Miami Seaquarium’s exhibitor license under the Animal Welfare Act.
  • March 25, 2014—A judge dismisses ALDF’s federal case challenging the legality of the Miami Seaquarium’s Animal Welfare Act license to display Lolita.
  • January 24, 2014—NMFS proposes a rule to include Lolita within the protections afforded to the Southern Resident population of killer whales under the Endangered Species Act.
  • April 25, 2013—NMFS finds that ALDF, PETA, and Orca Network’s petition for Lolita’s inclusion in endangered species protection merits consideration.
  • January 23, 2013—ALDF, PETA, Orca Network, and others petition NMFS to protect Lolita under the Endangered Species Act.

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