NOT FREE WILLY: Lolita the orca to remain in captivity after legal fight

Lolita has lived at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970

Lolita the orca at the Miami Seaquarium. Credit: Piotr Domaradzki under the Creative Commons license.

MIAMI, Fla. - Activist groups have lost the latest battle in a decades-long fight to free an orca named Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium.

The Miami Herald reports a federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a petition to reopen a lawsuit over Seaquarium's treatment of Lolita.

Lolita lives in the country's smallest orca aquarium, and has been Seaquarium's star attraction since she was captured off the Puget Sound in 1970.

The decision says that, at around 51, Lolita's age makes the case "unique," but there's no threat of serious harm that could trigger a federal animal welfare law violation. The court also couldn't identify a "realistic means" to return her to the wild without being harmed.

PETA General Counsel Jared Goodman says the ruling sentences Lolita to "a lifetime of physical and psychological harm."

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