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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Animal rights groups have lost another round in court in their efforts to free Lolita the killer whale from the Miami Seaquarium.
Lolita has lived in captivity at the marine park since 1970. In 2012, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other groups sued claiming the tank that holds Lolita violates USDA standards and there Seaquarium’s license to operate under the Animal Welfare Act should not be renewed.
In 2014, a Miami federal judge dismissed the groups’ lawsuit.
The groups had also argued that the USDA policy amounted to a “rubber-stamping” of license renewals and undermined the law.
Lawyers for the Seaquarium and the agriculture department countered that the law does not require proof of compliance with federal animal welfare laws when deciding whether to renew a license.
Last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last week said that while the judges “are sensitive to the plight of Lolita and other animals exhibited across the country,” they found that the USDA’s administrative process to renew Seaquarium’s license to display Lolita “balances the competing demands of due process and animal welfare.”
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