Breakthrough for Lolita: Feds Agree Seaquarium Tank May Violate Federal Law

PETA Points to USDA Office of Inspector General’s Report in Call for Orca’s Freedom

For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2017

Moira Colley 202-483-7382


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General recently reviewed the agency’s monitoring of facilities that display captive marine mammals—and confirmed that the Miami Seaquarium tank holding the lone orca Lolita may not meet minimum size requirements under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), as PETA has alleged for years.

“With everything that we now know about intelligent orcas’ complex needs, it’s clearly unacceptable to display an orca in a tank that doesn’t even meet the paltry requirements established decades ago,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on the Miami Seaquarium to end the orca Lolita’s decades of deprivation by releasing her into a seaside sanctuary as soon as humanly possible.”

The USDA’s report also notes that there were insufficient barriers at the Seaquarium’s orca tank to keep the marine mammals and the public safe, as visitors could easily stand next to the tank and extend their arms or objects over the water. The report also noted a lack of consistent enforcement of AWA regulations concerning shelter for marine mammals—and PETA has repeatedly pointed out that Lolita does not have sufficient protection from the hot Miami sun.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that although orcas swim up to 100 miles a day in nature, Lolita is unable to travel more than a few yards in a straight line. According to Seaquarium records, she shares the tiny tank with incompatible dolphins, who routinely scrape her skin with their teeth, and she has repeatedly exhibited abnormal behavior related to stress, such as rubbing her body against tank walls. Records show that she receives various types of medication nearly every day of her life. These include antibiotics, antifungals, pain medication (including narcotics), steroids, hormones, and antacids to treat ulcers—all treatments for ailments caused by captivity.

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