SEATTLE (CBSMiami/AP) — South Florida marine super star Lolita the killer whale will remain in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium after a federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., dismissed a lawsuit aimed at freeing the marine park’s star attraction.
Judge Benjamin H. Settle last week ruled that orca activists who sued the federal government didn’t give proper notice and failed to state a valid claim. He granted motions by the government and Seaquarium to dismiss the case.
Lolita, the oldest killer whale in captivity, was born around 1966. She has spent most of her life performing at the Seaquarium since her capture from Puget Sound waters in 1970.
The 7,000 pound whale has lived in the 20-foot deep tank for more than 40 years, performing twice a day for South Florida tourists.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and three individuals sued the National Marine Fisheries Service in November, saying it should have protected Lolita when it listed other Puget Sound orcas as endangered in 2005.
The groups say they’ll continue to fight for Lolita’s release back into the waters of the Pacific Northwest where she was originally captured but her handlers and theme park owners have said her life wound be endangered if she were freed after so many years in captivity.
The Seaquarium has said Lolita is healthy and well-cared for.
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