ALDF, PETA Sue USDA For Renewing Miami Seaquarium’s Federal LicensePosted 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
Miami – 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.