ALDF, PETA Sue USDA For Renewing Miami Seaquarium’s Federal License

Posted on August 22, 2012

Aquarium Keeping Lolita in Isolation in Smallest Tank in U.S., Despite Clear Animal Welfare Violations

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Lolita the orcaMiami – Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), PETA, the Orca Network, and private citizens concerned about the living conditions of Lolita, the lone orca at the Miami Seaquarium, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that challenges its absurd decision to renew the Seaquarium’s federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license. The law, which the USDA is charged with enforcing, prohibits licensing a facility that is out of compliance with the act–yet the Seaquarium keeps Lolita without the company of another orca in a tank so small that it fails to meet the minimum legal size requirements and also offers no protection from the burning sun–all violations of the AWA.

"It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to force the USDA to stop handing out permits to the smallest orca tank on the continent," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. "PETA and ALDF are calling on the government to give Lolita her long-overdue freedom from misery, isolation, and exploitation."

"ALDF and PETA already have a lawsuit pending against the National Marine Fisheries Service for wrongly excluding Lolita from the endangered listing of the Pacific Northwest’s Southern Resident orcas, whom she lived among until the day of her capture over 40 years ago," says ALDF Director of Litigation Carter Dillard. "It is time for the courts to intervene where the federal agencies charged with protecting Lolita are failing her."

In nature, where Lolita’s mother still thrives at more than 80 years of age, orcas live in tight family units with bonds that may last a lifetime. At the Seaquarium, Lolita swims in endless circles in a tiny barren cement tank. This highly intelligent and social wild animal has been without an orca companion since 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo, died of a brain aneurism after ramming his head into the side of their tank, in what many people believe was a desperate attempt to break out of the tank or even commit suicide.

Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.

What Can You Do To Help?

Sign ALDF’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging them to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. Depending on her condition, ESA protection could include transferring her to a sea pen in her home waters and releasing her back to her family pod.

5 thoughts on “ALDF, PETA Sue USDA For Renewing Miami Seaquarium’s Federal License

  1. Donna J says:

    I hope we win for Lola, ALDF. The story of her solitude is heartbreaking and I pray she can find company among her kind–other orcas!

    Thank you for your hard work to fight the good fight against greed that exploits innocent animals.

    Thank you!

  2. Jill Morse says:

    It’s about time someone stepped up to the plate to help this beautiful girl. I have been saddened and sick for years over this and the fact that no one does a damn thing about it! This is beyond belief and a disgrace for all
    animal protection agencies who have looked the
    other way, shame on all of you. Florida
    politicians are disgusting money grabbing,
    profiteering bastards to allow this to continue. I’m beyond speechless and would never
    make a trip to that deplorable State to spend a dime until something good is done for her!

  3. Adelen R says:

    Its time for her to live her life.

  4. Marie Carm says:

    What makes you think an animal that has been captive for so many years will do fine in the wild?

  5. adelen says:

    I know this because lolita has been a very important being in my life. I have known lolita since? I was 5 im now 29 years old. Believe it or not Lolita has an amazing will to live.

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.