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Captive orca Lolita can stay at Miami aquarium: U.S. appeals court

JONATHAN STEMPEL: ‘A federal appeals court… rejected efforts by animal rights advocates to force the Miami Seaquarium in Florida to release Lolita, an orca whale it has held in captivity for nearly half a century. By a 3-0 vote, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami rejected claims by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others that keeping Lolita in captivity violated the federal Endangered Species Act…

PETA said it may appeal, and that the decision ignores current public sentiment about the suffering of captive orcas. “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,” Jared Goodman, director of animal law at the PETA Foundation, said in a statement…

Lolita, captured in 1970, is roughly 20 feet (6 meters) long and weighs about 8,000 pounds (3.6 tonnes), and has long been one the Seaquarium’s top attractions. Critics raised 13 objections to her captivity, including the small size of Lolita’s tank, her lack of an orca companion since the death 38 years ago of her tank mate Hugo, stress and injuries caused by the white-sided dolphins she now lives with, and inadequate treatment by Seaquarium personnel’. SOURCE…

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