Judge’s Refusal to Review Seaquarium’s Violations of Law Prompts Court Appeal

Posted on July 1, 2014

PETA, ALDF Determined to Seek Justice for Suffering Orca Lolita

For immediate release


Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Jared Goodman, Esq., PETA Foundation

lolita-article-imageMiami — PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Orca Network, and concerned individuals filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Lolita, the solitary orca confined to a tiny concrete tank at Miami Seaquarium, but the judge has dismissed it. That’s why today, the plaintiffs filed an appeal of the dismissal of the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for automatically renewing Seaquarium’s Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license to exhibit Lolita—despite knowing that Seaquarium is perpetually in blatant violation of at least three AWA regulations. The plaintiffs seek to void Seaquarium’s license and put an end to this absurd practice, which could end Seaquarium’s inhumane treatment of Lolita.

Lolita is held in the smallest orca tank in North America—it’s so small that it fails to meet the minimum size required by the AWA. She also has no orca companion or shelter from the sun and other weather conditions—both violations of the AWA. But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that because Congress didn’t directly address license renewals when adopting the AWA, the USDA is allowed to rubber-stamp license-renewal applications. Under this ruling, the agency can do so even if it knows that the applicant is violating the AWA and that the applicant’s certification of compliance with the AWA is false.

“The court has practically endorsed the USDA’s dereliction of duty, and Lolita is paying the price by being forced to swim in endless circles—alone—inside her concrete prison,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr.

Adds ALDF’s Executive Director Stephen Wells, “By failing to administer the law, the USDA sentences Lolita to another year of solitary confinement each time it renews Miami Seaquarium’s license. We will continue to fight to win her the protections she is entitled to under the law.”

The groups would like to see Lolita released into a seaside sanctuary in her home waters and, if possible, back into her family pod, from which she was forcibly taken more than 40 years ago.

For more information, please visit PETA.org or ALDF.org.


19 thoughts on “Judge’s Refusal to Review Seaquarium’s Violations of Law Prompts Court Appeal

  1. Pamela Richardson says:

    Clearly, an organization that professes to be about informing and educating the public on marine life is, in reality, more interested in profiting from the ‘entertainment’ value of a miserable creature forced into an unnatural existence. Unspeakable. Everyone involved in perpetuating this situation should be deeply ashamed. I will spread the word to boycott Miami Seaquarium, since money is all they care about.

  2. luciacosenza says:

    Lolita is held in the smallest orca tank in North America—it’s so small that it fails to meet the minimum size required by the AWA let do SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!! SOMETHING PEOPLE

  3. sophie spencer says:

    Why do “humans” feel that it is ok to incarcerate and ruin animals lives for their amusement? What kind of JUDGE condemns an innocent animal to this life??? I hope to god sweet Lolita finds her way home with your help


  5. Erika longoria says:

    Let Lolita FREE!!! This is so wrong all these ppl care is about the money … And not the well being of Lolita

  6. Annette Howell says:

    Poor Lolita! I’ve been signing petitions for you for several years now. It’s so sad these greedy people don’t listen! I am so sorry that you have been subjected to so much abuse. You’ve been imprisoned for doing nothing wrong! Humans think they are gods – there are humans who care but evidently not the right ones! The ‘LAW’ needs to be changed – ‘congress’ has to do something about this mindless renewing of licenses just because it’s easier for the USDA. I don’t care if they didn’t do it when they were supposed – DO IT NOW!!!

  7. Carolyn Caplan says:

    Please free Lolita and all marine animals that belong in the wild! Not places like Seaquarium!

  8. Linda W. Seel says:

    This is very sad about Lolita and she needs to be set free. so stop using this poor imprisoned to make money…..you selfish inhumane people.

  9. Gumboz1953 says:

    Is there an 18 USC 1001 issue of making a false statement? If USDA won’t do its job, how about DOJ prosecuting whoever signed that false statement?

    As a federal employee (not at USDA), I wish they’d sink into the ground. They are nothing but a holding tank for lobbyists, waiting to go back to industry.

  10. Susan Childs says:

    Release her

  11. Peggy Oki says:

    EVERYONE, please consider taking these following ACTIONS for Lolita:
    1) Responding to ALDF’s recent announcement of OSHA violation with Lolita (riding on her), by Miami Seaquarium, please consider this ACTION ALERT for Lolita <3 ~write your legislators & "Share"

    2)If you haven't yet please write to Palace Entertainment (new owners of Miami Seaquarium) for Lolita's FREEDOM & "Share"

    3) Video petition to FREE Lolita! In order to participate, please click LIKE on the video's YOUTUBE page and SHARE! The video below will be sent to Palace Entertainment, which now owns the Miami SeaQuarium.
    More info about Lolita and ways you can help in description!
    NOTE – You must have a YouTube account and be signed in to "like" the video!

  12. Melanie says:

    We will protest until they are free, from children to elderly. It is not a good look for this judge or the city. These innocent animals are suffering, do the right thing!

  13. susanna minacheili says:

    set Lolita free

  14. IDA says:

    Please let Lolita go free!

  15. Mellinger Severine says:

    I am from Germany. I also want to see Lolita free, it’s absolutly auwfull to take her so long time in captivity. And absolutly cruel to make money with Orcas. Please let her free now

  16. Please let Lolita go free

  17. Sharon M says:

    Please free Lolita! Let her be with her family….!

  18. brigit says:

    Free lolita its a shame to keep her in that small bassin she need to put back where she came from 40 years ago how unbelievable sad is that.You profit from her all that time pay her back now!

  19. Cindi S says:

    Boycott Seaquarium. If you hit them in the pocket book, they’ll notice.

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