Federal court won't reopen case of captive orca Tokitae/Lolita

MIAMI -- Activist groups have lost the latest battle in a decadeslong fight to free an orca named Lolita from the Miami Seaquarium.

The Miami Herald reports a federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a petition to reopen a lawsuit over Seaquarium's treatment of Lolita.

Lolita lives in the country's smallest orca aquarium, and has been Seaquarium's star attraction since she was captured off the Puget Sound in 1970.

Lolita, or Tokitae as she is called by the Lummi Nation, is the only surviving member of the infamous Penn Cove roundup.

The decision says that, at around 51, Lolita's age makes the case "unique," but there's no threat of serious harm that could trigger a federal animal welfare law violation. The court also couldn't identify a "realistic means" to return her to the wild without being harmed.

PETA General Counsel Jared Goodman says the ruling sentences Lolita to "a lifetime of physical and psychological harm."

Back in May, members of the Lummi Nation went on a 9,000-mile, 25-day journey to Miami, transporting a 16-foot killer whale totem pole with them.