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BREAKING NEWS: PETA Sues SeaWorld for Violating Orcas' Rights

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Posted October 25, 2011 by Rachelle Owen

In the aerial view of SeaWorld, one can see how little room orcas have. Inside the circle is Tilikum, whose nose and tail almost touch the ends of his tank.

In the first case of its kind, PETA, three marine-mammal experts, and two former orca trainers are filing a lawsuit asking a federal court to declare that five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The filing—the first ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to nonhuman animals—names the five orcas as plaintiffs and also seeks their release to their natural habitats or seaside sanctuaries.

The suit is based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to “person” or any particular class of victim. “Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion,” says PETA’s general counsel, Jeffrey Kerr.

The five wild-captured orca plaintiffs are Tilikum and Katina (both confined at SeaWorld Orlando) and Kasatka, Corky, and Ulises (all three confined at SeaWorld San Diego).

“All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies. They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery, and these orcas are, by definition, slaves.”

Orcas are intelligent animals who, in the wild, work cooperatively, form complex relationships, communicate using distinct dialects, and swim up to 100 miles every day. At SeaWorld, they are forced to swim in circles in small, barren concrete tanks. Deprived of the opportunity to make conscious choices and to practice their cultural vocal, social, and foraging traditions, they are compelled to perform meaningless tricks for a reward of dead fish.

Our understanding of animals grows every day. Animals are no longer regarded as “things” to dominate, but as breathing, feeling beings with families, dialects, intellect, and emotions. Just as we look back with shame at a time when we enslaved other humans and viewed some people as property less deserving of protection and consideration, we will look back on our treatment of these animals with shame. The 13th Amendment exists to abolish slavery in all its forms—and this lawsuit is the next step.

The orcas are represented in the suit by what the law refers to as their “next friends”: PETA, Ric O’Barry (a former orca and dolphin trainer and the star of the Academy Award–winning documentary The Cove), renowned marine biologist and orca expert Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, Orca Network founder Howard Garrett, and former SeaWorld trainers Samantha Berg and Carol Ray.

The groundbreaking suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego.

Please help animals imprisoned by SeaWorld todayClick here to write to The Blackstone Group—the company that owns SeaWorld—and ask that it immediately set in place a firm and rapid plan to release the animals to sanctuaries that can provide them with an appropriate and more natural environment.

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  • 1298 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Poor babies :( that is ludicrous.

  • 1356 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This abuse of these great creatures has got to stop already.

  • 1388 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    tmurph –

    Unlike animal companions who are playing around the house, and gain pleasure from interactions with humans, animals are SeaWorld are not given this choice. They are forced to perform against their will, and they spend the remainder of their lives in captivity.

    For example, Tilikum has shared Shamu Stadium with orcas captured from multiple areas around the world, as well as those born captive in multiple locations. Orcas frequently enter and exit the group: when they are purchased from other marine parks; when they are transferred from parks within the SeaWorld system; and when they are born or die. At various times Tilikum has been forced into group structures with at least twenty-seven orcas in captivity: some for mere months, others for years. All this is absolutely contrary to all natural family and social structures known to orcas in nature.

  • 1389 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I do agree with the orca being slaves but one thing does worry me. If the orcas were taken from the wild as babies and raised in Seaworld wouldn’t releasing them into the wild now decrease their chances of survival. Yes what the did was wrong but we should be working to make sure this does not happen to anymore sea animals.

  • 1390 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Also, did you hear Hollywood has got an official ban on fur?! 😀 This is a good week!

  • 1390 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    go get ’em!

  • 1390 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    People these days…. -.-‘ Those poor Orcas!

  • 1392 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Thank you PETA!!!

  • 1393 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    you guys should do something about the animals brought to fairs, too. i live in sc, and every year the coastal carolina fair comes and they ALWAYS have animals. this year they had elephants, camels, and horses in cages for people to ride. you shouldve seen their faces, they were so miserable from being cooped up in a pen all day. and they also had bears doing tricks and stuff. and i’m sure it’s not just the coastal fair that does that.

  • 1396 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    WTF???!!

  • 1397 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    That’s insane. Animals deserve the same rights human’s do. I’m doing this as my topic in Speech class :)

  • Ana

    1402 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Come on! let’s free these babies! You have our full support, PETA and everyone else working hard for their freedom. You (we) can do this.

  • 1402 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    These facilities constantly violates animals rights by keeping them in captivity and away from everything that is natural to them. From these facilities point of view these animals are closer to objects than live, breathing beings.

  • 1402 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    i hope they get all the orcas taken from them. they were never meant to be captive and forced to perform. the orcas have suffered from numerous deaths at sea world they need to be released back into the ocean where they can live the way they were meant to live,in freedom

  • 1402 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    support!

  • 1403 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Yay Seaworld is awful! They SOO deserve to get sued

  • 1403 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    its about time!!!!!! goodness hopefully the orcas are releases back in to their natural habitat :)

  • 1403 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Every manifestation of anti-death industry is a form of struggle for life, there are animals to live free in their natural habitat not to be imprisoned in circuses or tanks, etc..
    is past time to put a stop!

  • 1403 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Wow :l if only little kids, and adults, cared or understood this was going on.

  • 1403 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    GO PETA!!

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    The Consitution refers only to “men” as owning property. Indeed, when it was written only white men owned property. Married women and African-Americans could not legally own property (they were considered property themselves). Now, of course, these provisions are interpreted in a way the Founding Fathers never envisioned. The same should be so with the 13th Amendment. They authors may not have envisioned it being applied in this way, but it does not mean it should not be applied this way. Slavery should be abolished in all its forms.

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    What just kills me is that these animals are taken from the wild. TAKEN FROM THE WILD where they were peacefully living their lives with their family and social unit, traveling freely for hundreds of miles each day. Then a place like Sea World takes them from their families, throws them in a small tank and forces them to perform for our entertaiment while they profit from these animal’s misery. How this is legal is beyond me.

  • LF

    1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Go Ingrid!!!

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    thank god for Peta. I am so sick of these companies making money off these poor animals and abusing them.

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Time to let the Orcas return to the Oceans.

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    One crucial point in my opinion is that Seaworld claims to educate people through their so-called programs of conservation. This is a fallacy. They are stifling people’s intelligence every way possible. I don’t have to get on the next space probe to know everything I need to know about the universe. When I am brought news of the world I live in, I don’t have to reach out and touch it with my physical being. I am grateful that some of us can; and they study, document, and share. And they leave it alone. When people fall for the Seaworld model, they are conditioned to through marketing and the whole mega-posh play land draw, and they love the hyper-stimulation. It is what came to replace public hangings and other violent entertainment. The main thing for me has always been that adults wrongly support this for their families’ entertainment when the fact is, when children are told the truth of a thing, they want justice, and nothing else. Tell any kid how that circus elephant has been treated all its life, and they won’t be back, or go in the first place. We human types have lost some of the most crucial forms of intelligence but can get them back. We will truly have evolved, which is what happens with real education, when people stop supporting Seaworld That is a lesson worth learning!.

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I will never understand how another human, let alone a company of humans, can treat such presious living beings with such distaste. Whether it is an Orca, a dolphin or even a small gold fish, they are alive, they deserve the best treatment. Its one thing when an animal is raised in captivity because it was injured or had no family, but being taken from its home, in the sea, just to do tricks. Thats wrong. I have never been to seaworld, but i am def. never going now.

  • Luc

    1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Aimeriez-vous subir ça à votre échelle ??? Stop à toutes ces souffrances

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I completely agree. Animals are not toys for us to enjoy. It is a stupid business where they are imprisoned in small areas living their slavery life, performing tricks for a short pleasure of humans. it must stop! Those who understand the needs of animals and try to protect them for those is my respect.

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    C’est honteux. Laissez-les en liberté là où ils doivent être et non prisonniers dans de petits bassins. C’est vraiment abjecte et je souhaite à ceux qui leur font ça de connaître un jour ce que c’est juste pour qu’ils se rendent compte de la souffrance qu’ils causent

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I bow down to this.
    Well done PETA for taking a stand against these ugly marine parks. For too long have they been able to masquerade under the guise of education. I hope this serves as a lesson to all – marine mammals are sentient creatures that don’t deserve to be incarcerated for human entertainment!

    • 1383 days ago

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

      0

      Wow, took the words right out of my mouth. :)

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Great news… This could be awesome and groundbreaking… Full support from Cyprus…

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    that is crazy!! never thought of the 13th amendment being used in that way, that was smart! glad that they are getting sued for what wrong they did, they know what they did!

  • 1404 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Brilliant!!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    go peta!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Couldn’t you also sue Ringling and the NY horse people for this?

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I think human beings are becoming more and more selfishly horrid to everything not just animals but to thier own kind too

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    people who mistreat animals should be punished! they have feelings and are alive!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    That is horrific 😮
    THANK GOD THERE GETTING SUED 😀

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Watching and looking at the animals was the most boring part of seaworld anyway…I only went a second time as a child to ride Journey to Atlantis! It’s about time you guys caught them in their act, however I still can’t understand how this hasn’thappened much sooner… people are dead from these orcas..leave them be!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Well done PETA, this is so cruel bless the gorgeous creatures x

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This makes me smile. Thank you for the post, from Florida.

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    If they get the best medical care, why are they only living a few years compared to their natural life span. Also, if you had the best medical care, but you were kept in a bath tub your whole life, how would you feel. These, like all animals, should not be owned or kept by humans.

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    PETA…I FREAKEN LOVE YOU GUYS!!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    How lOng have the orca’s been here for? I went there probably about 10 years ago, way before I went vegan an I can’t believe they can just take then from their families as babies, never to see them again. I would be an angry orca and depressed too if I were locked in such a small area

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Its Cruel these Whales R prisoners in a conctrete tank they should be in open seas free to swim the hundreds of miles they were born to do & not performing for people don’t go to these shows this just promotes the cruelty!!!!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????????????

    • tom

      1405 days ago

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

      0

      YEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    YES !!!! THIS MADE MY DAY THANK YOU FOR CONTACTING ME AND LETTING ME KNOW THIS !
    MIAMI, FL
    ANTI MIAMI SEAQUARIUM !!!!!!!!!

    • 1403 days ago

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

      0

      Miami seaquarium save animals in put them back in the ocean

      • 1403 days ago

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

        0

        No they don’t. Have you heard of Lolita? She’s an imprisoned orca, just like those mentioned in this PETA article. A movie was actually made about her; it’s called “Slave to Entertainment”:

        http://www.miamiseaprison.com/

  • 1405 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    por la mierda que no aprendimos nada de liberen a willy????

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