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SeaWorld is Being Sued by PETA for Slaving Killer Whales

photo via Mike Barron

PETA is filing a federal lawsuit against SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment for slavery of killer whales. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says Sea World is violating the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which bans slavery. The lawsuit seeks to have the orcas released from the parks and and into a guardian who would have a “suitable habitat” for them.

The plaintiffs are the five orcas, Tilikum and Katina based at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida., and Corky, Kasatka and Ulises at SeaWorld San Diego.

Tilikum, a six-tonne male, made the nationals news in February 2010 when he grabbed a trainer at the end of a performance and dragged her underwater until she drowned. The lawsuit against Sea World Parks in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida is set to be filed in San Diego federal court and even though it’s a slim chance of winning because the 13th Amendment doesn’t specify that only humans are the victims of slavery. If this lawsuit is won, it would represent a huge turn around in the movement in animal-rights.

Part of the lawsuit asserts that it is illegal to artificially inseminate the females and then take away their babies.

Jeff Kerr, PETA’s general counsel, says that he and his five legal members spend 18 months preparing this case and said:

“The males have their sperm collected, the females are artificially inseminated and forced to bear young which are sometimes shipped away. By any definition, these orcas are slaves, kidnapped from their homes, kept confined, denied everything that’s natural to them and forced to perform tricks for SeaWorld’s profit”

In a prepared statement issued by the President of PETA, Ingrid E. Newkirk said:

“The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery, and these orcas are, by definition, slaves.”

SeaWorld called the claim “baseless and, in many ways, offensive” and said in a written statement:

“There is no higher priority than the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care and no facility sets higher standards in husbandry, veterinary care and enrichment than Sea-World. Today, while PETA was issuing news releases comparing the care for animals in zoological institutions to the abhorrent institution of human slavery, SeaWorld San Diego was returning a rehabilitated green sea turtle to the wild. That animal is one of more than 20,000 rescued in SeaWorld’s long history.”

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