Napier City Council says it will defend its decision to close Marineland on the city's waterfront.
Friends of Marineland, which is campaigning to reopen and revitalise the attraction, has served court papers on the council.
The group wants a judical review of the original decision in 2008 to close Marineland to the public and the more recent decision to transfer its remaining operations to the nearby aquarium.
Since the closure, Marineland has run educational programmes with its 40 remaining animals, mostly for school groups.
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott says the council has spent a long time trying to establish what the city wants and what the animals need.