South Florida

Judge Throws Out Case Against Miami Seaquarium Over Orca Battle

Groups fighting for the release of Lolita saw their case dismissed

What to Know

  • A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Miami Seaquarium over Lolita, the captured Orca whale.
  • The ruling said that Lolita's living conditions don't violate the Endangered Species Act, as the lawsuit claimed.

The Miami Seaquarium has won a major legal battle over the hotly contested debate over Lolita, the Orca that lives at the facility and has attracted protest from across the country.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed a lawsuit filed by an Orca awareness group seeking Lolita's release, ruling that it was not proven that the living conditions do not violate the Endangered Species Act.

Howard Garrett, co-founder of the Orca Network, posted a message on his Facebook page expressing disappointment in the ruling.

"This ruling allows Miami Seaquarium to continue harming the long-suffering orca Lolita by confining her to a tiny tank, subject to harassment from incompatible animals, with no companionship from her fellow species and little respite from the hot South Florida sun," Garrett wrote.

Last year, an appeals court upheld a previous court's ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed against the Seaquarium which alleged the facility to be in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Lolita was captured in 1970, when she was between the ages of 4 and years old. Puget Sound orcas were put on the endangered species list in 2005, but captive animals were excluded from protection. PETA and other groups filed a petition in 2013 for Lolita to be added to that list.

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