Lawsuit Filed To Protect Captive Orcas

On November 17, 2011, we filed a lawsuit in the federal district court in the state of Washington on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and several individuals challenging a decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service to exclude the captive members of killer whales (orcas) from the population that has been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The listing decision, which was issued over five years ago, inexplicably excluded the captive members of the species, including an orca named Lolita, who was captured from the wild in the 1970s and is maintained at the for-profit Seaquarium in Miami where she is kept in a small tank with no companions of her own species. Because she was excluded from the listing decision, the Seaquarium, which over the years has made tens of millions of dollars from having Lolita perform tricks on command, can continue to keep in her in conditions that “harm” and “harass” her, with impunity under the ESA.