Appeals court hears arguments over license for orca ‘Lolita’

Author: Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) – Animal rights advocates are challenging a federal judge’s dismissal of their lawsuit against Miami Seaquarium and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The case concerns a captive killer whale named Lolita that has lived at the Seaquarium since 1970. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and other groups sued in 2012, saying the tank that holds Lolita violates USDA standards to renew the Seaquarium’s license to operate under the Animal Welfare Act.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit in March 2014. The animal rights groups are set to argue Tuesday before an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Miami.

Separately, the federal government has said Lolita deserves the same protections as a small population of endangered orcas that live in Washington state waters. However, that decision doesn’t affect Lolita’s care at Seaquarium.

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