In a new report released last month, the USDA suggested that the Miami Seaquarium’s only orca, Lolita, may be living in a tank that is too small for her. According to the report, the tank “may not meet all space requirements defined by the agency’s [Animal Welfare Act] regulations” and “[t]he design of the enclosure may deny the resident orca sufficient space for adequate freedom of movement.” This assessment contradicts previous USDA findings that the size of Lolita’s tank was sufficient. However, the new findings do not mean that Lolita will be given more space; rather, the report simply concluded that better guidelines are needed for auditing marine mammal enclosures. Nevertheless, the findings do lend some support to the animal welfare groups who have been arguing for years that Lolita’s tank is woefully inadequate.
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