PETA, ALDF Appeal Court’s Dismissal of Lawsuit Seeking Lolita’s Freedom

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Case Against Government for Excluding Captive Orca From Endangered Species Act Protections Goes to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Miami PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) 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, PETA and ALDF 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.

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Lawsuit To Free Lolita The Killer Whale Dismissed

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“Poor Lolita, her freedom was taken, she was forced to perform! I think it is atrocious that a jumped up judge that probably knows jack sxxt about orca’s, has the final say on her life…her life was taken from her…her performances have raked in god knows how much money for Miami Seaquarium. If they thought anything about Lolita they would let her retire. And she could be set free again, with time in  a sea pen, it’s not like there just going to free her straight into the sea…it’s possible…so I hope everyone keeps fighting for this Orca…she deserves her freedom & has paid dearly for it…Free Lolita NOW!

“Join her facebook page & protest for Lolita’s freedom”….

SEATTLE (CBSMiami/AP)South Florida marine super star Lolita the killer whale will remain in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium after a federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., dismissed a lawsuit aimed at freeing the marine park’s star attraction.

Judge Benjamin H. Settle last week ruled that orca activists who sued the federal government didn’t give proper notice and failed to state a valid claim. He granted motions by the government and Seaquarium to dismiss the case.

Lolita, the oldest killer whale in captivity, was born around 1966. She has spent most of her life performing at the Seaquarium since her capture from Puget Sound waters in 1970.

The 7,000 pound whale has lived in the 20-foot deep tank for more than 40 years, performing twice a day for South Florida tourists.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and three individuals sued the National Marine Fisheries Service in November, saying it should have protected Lolita when it listed other Puget Sound orcas as endangered in 2005.

The groups say they’ll continue to fight for Lolita’s release back into the waters of the Pacific Northwest where she was originally captured but her handlers and theme park owners have said her life would be endangered if she were freed after so many years in captivity.

The Seaquarium has said Lolita is healthy and well-cared for.

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