Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

PETA v. Miami Seaquarium

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20011
Nos. 16-14814, (11th Cir., 01/12/2018)

The Eleventh Circuit held that the Miami Seaquarium’s treatment of a captive orca named Lolita doesn’t seriously threaten her life. Animal activists sued the aquarium, alleging it is perpetrating an unlawful “take” by “harm[ing]” or “harass[ing]” Lolita in violation of the ESA. A district court held that “a licensed exhibitor ‘take[s]’ a captive animal . . . only when its conduct gravely threatens or has the potential to gravely threaten the animal’s survival,” and granted summary judgment for Seaquarium. On appeal, the activists contended the district court imposed too high a standard and, alternatively, that the court erred by concluding the aquarium’s conduct does not, as a matter of law, pose a grave threat to Lolita. Though the appellate court disagreed with the lower court that that actionable “harm” or “harass[ment]” includes only deadly or potentially deadly harm, it found that the conditions of Lolita's captivity do not pose a threat of serious harm. The judgment was affirmed.