Feds Slammed With Lawsuit For Issuing License to Miami Seaquarium’s New Owner
Exhibitor’s License Cannot Be Issued for Facility Violating Animal Welfare Regulations, Plaintiffs Contend
For Immediate Release
Miami — PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Orca Network, and a concerned individual filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) challenging the agency’s decision to license Miami Seaquarium as an additional “site” under the license of Palace Entertainment, the company that bought and absorbed the marine park in 2014. Under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and its regulations, exhibitors’ licenses do not transfer upon change of ownership, and a new license can be issued only to a facility that demonstrates compliance with USDA regulations. Yet Seaquarium keeps a lone orca, Lolita, in a tank so small that it fails to meet even the minimum legal size requirement and also offers the orca no protection from the burning sun, both violations of the AWA.
“Miami Seaquarium’s new owner simply does not qualify for a permit for this facility, when the orca confined there is suffering in an illegally small concrete pit,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “We are asking the court to strip this deplorable facility of its wrongfully obtained license and put Lolita on the path to freedom after more than 45 years of captivity and exploitation.”
This lawsuit comes in addition to another that is pending by the plaintiffs, who contend that Seaquarium’s imprisonment of Lolita violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which prohibits harming or harassing protected animals. Lolita was granted protection under the ESA last year thanks to the plaintiffs’ successful petition.
The plaintiffs are pushing for Lolita to be retired to a seaside sanctuary that’s waiting for her in her home waters off Washington state’s San Juan Islands, where the orca believed to be her mother still thrives at more than 80 years old.
For more information, please visit PETA.org or ALDF.org.
USDA to Strengthen Tracking of Animal Deaths at Licensed Facilities Following Legal PetitionAnimal Legal Defense Fund petition for rulemaking spurs reporting improvements: Forms will be revised to ensure AWA licensees maintain complete records of all animal deaths.December 6, 2022 Press Release
Endangered Species Act Rollbacks Reversed After Animal Legal Defense Fund LawsuitU.S. District Court has ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund following its lawsuit to vacate rules imposed by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2019 under the Trump administration that weakened the Endangered Species Act (ESA).July 8, 2022 Press Release
Animal Legal Defense Fund Adds $5,000 to Reward in Case of Endangered Red Wolf ShootingReward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for illegally shooting and killing a red wolf in Tyrrell County, North Carolina.May 24, 2022 Press Release