ALDF, PETA Appeal Court’s Dismissal of Lawsuit Seeking Lolita’s FreedomPosted on May 30, 2012
Case Against Government for Excluding Captive Orca From Endangered Species Act Protections Goes to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Miami — The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and PETA have appealed the recent dismissal of the groups’ lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for wrongly excluding orca Lolita from the endangered listing of the Pacific Northwest’s southern resident orcas. The exclusion has allowed the Miami Seaquarium to hold Lolita alone in captivity in a tiny concrete tank for more than 40 years with impunity despite Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibitions against harming and harassing southern resident orcas. The case’s dismissal was based solely on the timing of the filing of the lawsuit–in their federal appeal, ALDF and PETA contend that the government received the required notice of intent to sue and that the case was wrongfully dismissed.
"It is deplorable for the government to exclude Lolita from the protections granted to southern resident orcas solely because a theme park tore her away from her family four decades ago," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. "PETA and ALDF will continue to push for Lolita to finally have her day in court and the freedom she deserves."
"Because the government has not granted Lolita the protections she is rightfully due, she suffers each day in a small tank equivalent to a human confined to a bathtub her entire life," says Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation. "The American public is sick and tired of legal loopholes designed to allow companies such as the Seaquarium to profit at the expense of animals like Lolita and the people who care about her well-being."
The groups’ lawsuit calls for Lolita to be included in the endangered listing, which could include release into a seaside sanctuary in her home waters and, if possible, back into her family pod. In the wild, female orcas spend their entire lives with their mothers, and Lolita’s mother is still thriving at more than 80 years of age. Orcas naturally swim up to 100 miles a day with their families. Lolita currently swims in endless circles alone in the smallest orca tank in North America, where she is forced to perform meaningless tricks for Seaquarium’s profit–an estimated tens of millions of dollars.