It was big news when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tried to take on SeaWorld in a court case based on the Thirteenth Amendment. Any Google search using the words ‘Peta’ or ‘SeaWorld” would pop up nothing but information about the court case. It was back in October 2011 that Peta filed the suit against the, in my opinion, disgusting SeaWorld empire. The suit was filed in the US District Court in San Diego claiming that the orca whales kept by SeaWorld were slaves to the entertainment industry. The spokesperson for Peta had this to say before the trial began:
The whales “were forcibly taken from their families and natural habitats, are held captive at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, denied everything that is natural to them, subjected to artificial insemination or sperm collection to breed performers for Defendant’s shows, and forced to perform, all for the Defendant’s profit.”
On February 8, 2012, the judge dismissed the case and said that,
“the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons and not to non persons such as orcas.”
Alright, so I have mixed feelings about this Peta versus SeaWorld case. I agree with Peta and the fact that the orcas are definitely being held captive against their own will and are being held for profit reasons only. I think that is a pretty clear and obvious fact. My only worry about the case was what would Peta try to go after next? I am part of a very active marine mammal activist community and I know others had the same concern. I am a dog owner. I have a rescued pit bull mix that I literally saved from the euthanasia room. She was going to be put to sleep because she was sick and therefore lost her place on the adoption floor. It was either go home with me, or die. Does Peta approve or disapprove of my owning a dog? She gets a lot of love and sleeps on the bed next to me every night, but she also stays home with the cat when I go out to dinner or go to work. So would they consider that wrong treatment of an animal? Thoughts like this worried me. Would they at some point go after police dogs being used to sniff out bombs and drugs? Who knows, but either way I think it was a tremendous thing to file a suit against SeaWorld. They cleary do not have anything but profits in mind when they see the orcas and other dolphins swimming around in circles in their tanks. They exploit and use the animals in their “collection” every single day.
I read the other day that Stephen Scwarzman paid one million dollars to throw his 60th birthday party in 2007. His home is 7,000 square feet bigger than the ENTIRE Shamu stadium! Schwarzman is the co-founder and CEO of Blackstone Entertainment, which owns SeaWorld. Now I understand that the Blackstone Group only recently purcased the Seaworld empire in 2009, but since then there hasn’t been any improvements in the facilities or care. They keep Tilikum isolated in a small tank because of the recent death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
I read the observations of one individual who went to SeaWorld two days in a row and watched Tilikum for 10 hours, both days. During that time they saw him alone the whole time. No interaction with the other orcas, no toys, no real trainer interaction time. He was only moved from one small tank to another. How is this good treatment of an animal? After the PETA trial a SeaWorld spokesperson said this,
“SeaWorld reamins the standard for stewardship of marine animals and we reject any challenge to the conditions and quality of care for these remarkable animals.”
Seaworld is the standard for marine animal care? If that is the truth then its time to raise the bar and demand a higher standard because they are a big blanket of failure in my eyes.
Lets hope the upcoming OHSA case against SeaWorld gives the world an even better view into the dark world of captivity.