Tourism & Cruises

Animal rights groups file suit against Miami Seaquarium

Lolita, the killer whale who has been the star attraction at Miami Seaquarium for 45 years, pictured in 2014.
Lolita, the killer whale who has been the star attraction at Miami Seaquarium for 45 years, pictured in 2014. MIAMI HERALD FILE

Animal rights groups continued their efforts to have Lolita the killer whale removed from the Miami Seaquarium, filing a lawsuit on Monday that claims the Virginia Key attraction is violating the Endangered Species Act.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Orca Network and its director Howard Garrett filed the complaint in federal court against the Seaquarium and owner Palace Entertainment.

Lolita was added to a federal endangered species list earlier this year.

“Decades of abuse, miserable confinement, and chronic deprivation have cost Lolita everything that's natural and important to her,” PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr said in a statement. “PETA is taking action now to ensure that the Miami Seaquarium is held accountable for her suffering, and we'll continue to push for her relocation to a seaside sanctuary.”

The Seaquarium released a statement disagreeing with the allegations and vowing to mount a defense against the lawsuit.

The statement read in part: “Lolita is loved and exceptionally well cared for at Miami Seaquarium, and we believe that her removal from the only home she has ever known, into a sea pen in Washington state (the end-goal of the activists), would be cruel and traumatic.”

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