Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

PETA Fails in Suit to Release Captive Orca

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 18, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lolita, the killer whale, will remain in captivity.

That's the decision of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Miami Seaquarium. The animal rights group and others claimed that Lolita should be freed under the Endangered Species Act.

The appeals court said PETA did not prove that captivity posed a serious threat to the whale. It will not be a sequel to "Free Willy."

Not in Danger

Animal rights advocates sued to free Lolita in 2015 after the National Marine Fisheries Services said the orcas are endangered. But a federal district judge ruled against them, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

"The evidence, construed in the light most favorable to PETA, does not support the conclusion that the conditions of her captivity pose a threat of serious harm to Lolita," the appeals court said.

Lolita, who was captured in 1970, is one of the top attractions at the Miami Seaquarium in Florida. She is about 20 feet long and weighs about 8,000 pounds.

"Distressed Orca"

Criticizing the aquarium and the appeals court's decision, PETA said it may appeal.

"This ruling sentences this highly intelligent, deeply lonely, and distressed orca to a lifetime of physical and psychological harm, confined to a tiny concrete cell without family, friends, or freedom," said Jared Goodman, director of animal law at the PETA Foundation.

According to reports, Lolita has lived in captivity for nearly half a century. She has been alone in her tank for 38 years.

Related Resources:

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard