Fellow USD students, San Diegans and tourists, get ready to say good-bye to Shamu. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and supported by over two million people filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld, claiming that orca whales (aka killer whales) are slaves under the 13th Amendment, which is famous for outlawing slavery and forbidding involuntary servitude, PETA alleges the whales should be freed. Essentially, SeaWorld is being accused of holding whales captive and forcing them to work as slaves.
SeaWorld has provided valuable research about life in the oceans and has even taken steps to help expand the population of killer whales in the wild.
One of the whales named — as plaintiffs! — in the PETA suit is Tillikum. You might remember him from last year, when he dragged a trainer underwater during a show and drowned her; despite evidence the whale had contributed to two other deaths, SeaWorld keeps trotting him out for shows.
The suit claims that captivity in the “barren tanks” of marine parks suppresses the whales’ activities and relationships and subjects them to stress. According to the suit, this might lead to cases where the orcas injure other orcas, humans or themeselves.
If successful, PETA’s lawsuit asks the courts to release the whales into custody of a legal guardian who would seek a “suitable habitat” outside of SeaWorld.
SeaWorld officials dismissed the entire suit as a publicity stunt.