In early September, Sea Shepherd Legal filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the PETA v. Miami Seaquarium case. PETA and and its allies previously filed a lawsuit against the Miami Seaquarium to protest the captivity and treatment of the orca Lolita, who has spent more than 45 years in a small tank to entertain the public. The evidence showed that Lolita suffers from a variety of harms, including repetitive behavior due to cramped conditions, rake injuries inflicted by socially incompatible dolphins, and skin and eye damage from inadequate shade. However, the trial court ultimately decided that these harms were insufficient to establish a violation of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). PETA is appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In seeking justice for Lolita, PETA enlisted Sea Shepherd Legal’s assistance. Our brief supports PETA’s position by asserting that the trial court has ignored decades of Supreme Court case law interpreting the ESA. Sea Shepherd Legal also emphasizes that the court’s opinion wrongly assumes captive animals like Lolita have a greater tolerance for pain and suffering than their wild counterparts.
We are hopeful that, by adding our voice to the fight, we will convince the appellate court to arrive at the best decision for Lolita.