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Aquarium Keeping Lolita in Isolation in Smallest Tank in U.S., Despite Clear Animal Welfare Violations
For Immediate Release:August 23, 2012
Contact:David Perle 202-483-7382
Miami -- PETA, the Animal
Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Orca Network, and private citizens concerned
about the living conditions of Lolita, the lone orca at the Miami Seaquarium,
have 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. In the filing—which is being
handled by the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal—the plaintiffs set out
specific provisions of the AWA that prohibit these conditions.
"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
"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.
For more information, please
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.