PETA Sues SeaWorld Over Alleged "Whale Slavery"

Categories: WTF Florida
tilikumwhale.jpg
Does this orca have Constitutional rights?
​PETA, everyone's favorite group of totally rational animal activists, has launched a new legal attack against SeaWorld this morning, accusing parks in Orlando and California of mistreating five killer whales. Which, actually, OK! There are lots of reasonable arguments against keeping orcas in captivity.

PETA's argument, however, is that the killer whales are actually "slaves" whose rights are being violated under the 13th Amendment. Counterpoint: Whales are not people.

PETA's lawsuit, which they will file in California federal court later this morning, argues that the 13th Amendment -- you know, the one that abolished slavery -- "does not specify that only humans can be victims," the AP reports.

Here's what John Kerr, PETA's legal counsel, has to say about the ... unique argument.
"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. The males have their sperm collected, the females are artificially inseminated and forced to bear young which are sometimes shipped away."
SeaWorld, meanwhile, is left in the odd position of trying to prove in court that orcas are not people.

"(This suit) is baseless and in many ways offensive," the company says in a statement. "There is no higher priority than the welfare of the animals in our care."

It's not as though SeaWorld is the easiest entity to sympathize with here.

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.

Today's lawsuit, like most PETA activities, is geared more toward pissing people off and sparking arguments than actually winning in court.

Even with more law schools open to the possibility of expanding animals' legal rights, a federal court isn't going to hear a case arguing that whales have Constitutional rights, the AP writes.

"A court would not be predisposed to opening up that box with fully unknown consequences," says Michigan State law professor David Favre.

On the upside, PETA has gone a whole morning without making fun of shark attack victims or upsetting Holocaust survivors. So there's that.

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38 comments
Bobs Ur.... Auntie?!
Bobs Ur.... Auntie?!

SeaWorld will be found NOT GUILTY simply because whales do not possess the LEGAL STANDING to sue due to the fact that whales are not people or US citizens. The Whales are the personal property of SeaWorld, and will be ruled on by the court as such. PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk realizes she will lose this lawsuit, but her reasoning is be obnoxious and to make headlines more than it is to win in court.

ahumanesoul
ahumanesoul

there really is no argument or "sides" here. killing an animal to eat is one thing, but keeping an animal for "entertainment" is really just a sick sick disease that we people have. sometimes as humans we suffer from huge mental disorders, however when a large enough group of people suffer from the same thing, in this case thinking it's "fun" to go see Shamu do tricks, then the disorder becomes "ok" because, well, everyone else goes to seaworld. .

it's wrong period, whales are one of (if not THE) largest creatures and deserve to roam free in the ocean. you guys should actually read the research on whales and see how far they travel in their lifetime, they swim distances in the ocean you and i could never dream of.. a tank at seaworld would never compare to that and it's just not right.  period. talk ends here.

THE FOOL FUNNEL
THE FOOL FUNNEL

The only known recent case pending where 2 California Judges have approved debt peonage slavery in the labor contract is Harris et al V Investor's Business Daily (Los Angeles Superior Court #BC269313) in a bi fucated case, one Judge re-defined the wages into advances ignoring remand instructions from the Court of Appeals, the next Judge then decided that allowing an employee to be driven into debt which he had to directly labor off was okay with the Court in Oct 2011.  The case has a tentative ruling which will be final in the next 120 days and debt peonage Slavery will be officially and silently re-instated in California at that point (more info at chargebackconsultant dot com)

Stephanie
Stephanie

Hi kjs. I appreciate your input and there's no doubt in my mind that you are much more knowledgeable than me in regards to marine biology. I don't doubt that after years of captivity, these animals would be worse off back in the wild since they essentially wouldn't know what to do with themselves. My point is this: I don't believe we should be taking animals from the wild in the first place and training them for entertainment purposes. Perhaps the PETA lawsuit is misguided because obviously these whales would be doomed at this point in their lives if they were thrown back into the ocean, but what's wrong with a sanctuary? They at least wouldn't be in a concrete cell but the open water.... well, protected (aka restricted) but open water no less. These animals will never be able to live the lives they were intended to by nature but I think they could live better lives. 

I don't believe these animals are starved or entirely mistreated. It's common sense that they wouldn't be able to perform the stunts if they were malnourished. I don't believe animal trainers are bad people whatsoever. Like I said before, my main qualm is with them being taken from their natural habitat as infants or adolescents and forced to live a life like this. In my previous post, I mentioned circus animals. This applies to that as well, though I think the treatment of circus animals is typically more brutal. I find it inhumane and unnatural to take these creatures out of their habitat and make them perform tricks for our viewing pleasure. That's simply my opinion.

Kay: nothing you are saying is wrong. That is the beauty of this forum and this country. However, who are you to judge what is a bigger problem? As I have already said, since you are clearly so passionate about human rights issues, what are you doing here? Does it make you feel better to belittle those of us who feel strongly about this? I don't necessarily agree with this lawsuit but I do feel strongly about animals in captivity, hence that's why I found myself here. For all I know you could be an activist and doing everything in your power to stop domestic violence and other causes of that nature, or you could be one of those people with nothing better to do than preach about their beliefs and criticize others ideals but in the end, actually do nothing. Everyone feels more passionate about certain issues than others. Who are you to judge this issue? 

I may have a passionate voice when it comes to animals but in no way do I believe human rights issues are any less important. Testing vaccines and other treatments are beyond vital and while there are many new advances where no life- human or animal- is necessary to test these treatments, I don't doubt that many aren't. If we are going to use animals in testing, than something needs to be done of their treatment in the laboratories. They are treated like less than scum. 

Sarah
Sarah

go PETA. FUCK YOU, SEAWORLD. 

sofnoverit
sofnoverit

Am I going to get prosecuted for wrongful imprisonment and hate crimes for having two well cared for and very loved dogs? This is just stupid. I suggest throwing whoever thought this up in the Orca tank with two live Tuna duct taped to their head... that ought to solve the problem.

GeorgeC
GeorgeC

This lawsuit is a joke an waste if everyones time. Orcas are not people they don't have constitutional rights. Not only that but why are they only suing over whales? Do dolphins like doing tricks for fish? How the heck do they know the whales aren't happy? Have they talked to them? Did they hire Dr. Doolittle?

Stephanie
Stephanie

Kay, if you are SO passionate about people's lack of constitutional rights or the street children of Brazil, than do something instead of making a mockery out of another cause. Just because you don't agree with it and may think there are more important issues at hand doesn't mean this isn't justified.

I find what Brittany said to be so on point. Sure, PETA is definitely one of the more radical, outlandish groups out there, so it makes it easier for people to think everything they do and/or support is outrageous. I think this lawsuit is brilliant, to be honest. The simple fact that it's even happening speaks volumes. These creatures can't state that they do not enjoy living in a concrete jail that is entirely too small for them. They don't have the capacity to explain that being forced to perform tricks for entertainment is beyond unnatural to them. To top it off, what has happened to the people that train the whales is tragic and unnecessary. Perhaps SeaWorld should realize that profit doesn't outweigh human life (or really, lives). 

I find the same to be true with circus animals. Take a look at any undercover surveillance video about elephants, large cats or any other animal help captive. They are prodded with painful bullhooks or other weapons that force them to contort themselves in ways that would never happen in the wild. 

Animals in the entertainment world is unnatural, bottom line. Just because we have the ability to capture them when they're young and force them to do tricks doesn't mean we should. 

Oh and newsflash, Dannielle: you really should do some research because you speak about things you clearly don't understand. With advances in technology there are countless non-harming ways to test vaccines and other medical treatments that don't require testing on animals. Furthermore, and I don't mean to speak for PETA by any means, but I think if the livelihood of the animal was put into perspective during the testing it may be a different story entirely. These animals are kept in cramped, barren wire cages, sometimes so packed to the rim they can't even turn their heads. Food and water is a privilege and if they are sick or injured, it's completely overlooked. If these animals were treated with a little more class and dignity, it might be a different story. 

Kay
Kay

How absolutely ridiculous. There are SO many causes with more meaning that these people could put their time into. There are PEOPLE starving and without homes, and fuckin PETA is worried about the damn whales. Whales that have KILLED people. Constitional rights for animals? Most HUMANS in the world don't even have constitutional rights. Tsk tsk. I guess we should let the whales run for office and vote, too? Why speak up for the street children of Brazil or the oppressed women of the middle east when *gasp* SeaWorld is making whales do tricks In exchange for fish? I guess we should sue every person that has ever taught there dog to fetch or roll over. *rolls eyes*

Orlando
Orlando

I'm so fucking outraged right now I can't even think straight.

You mean to tell me this whole time I could've had a whale slave?

Brittany
Brittany

"Counterpoint: Whales are not people" Oh, I'm sorry, I was unaware of the fact that simply because one was not of the human species that gave us the right to keep them in captivity and forcing them to do tricks for our over-priced entertainment. Say what you want about PETA-- I'll be the first to agree they aren't the most rational bunch; but at least someone is doing something to put an end this atrocity we all allow to take place.

And 'newsflash' Danielle: You can make an Orca do something it doesn't want to, by starving it and forcing it into a tank to small for not doing tricks and rewarding it with food and room to swim when they do. It basic animal training, gone entirely too far in this case. In reference to your other comments: I assume you're referring to the "I'd rather go naked campaign" which is not pornography or the subjugation of women. PETA's stance on animal lab testing for research (regardless of what the research entails) is that there are enough free-thinking free-willing humans that would be willing to do this testing; therefore there is no reason to force animals to live in cages in laboratory facilities-- where they are not being taken care of, and often treated cruelly, getting injected with numbers of chemicals and drugs. I suggest that rather immediately  jump on the right-wing band wagon, and condemning this potentially good deed simply because PETA is behind it, you do a little research into the truth of how animals are treated in today's society.

Dannielle
Dannielle

newsflash- you can't make a multi ton orca do anything it doesn't want to do

and for those of you shaking their heads and thinking, "gee, though this is completely wrong I should support it bc I don't like whales in captivity", please remember that PeTA only needs ONE judge to hear them out that an animal, any animal, has Constitutional rights- meaning, you can't have your dog or cat, either.

this is the same PeTA that kills thousands of adoptable animals, some newborns, instead  of even attempting to find them homes. the same PeTA who thinks it's ok to exploit women for pornography but bad to own or eat a single animal based product, the same PeTA who says even if animal research resulting ain cures for cancer or AIDS they would be against it while one of their VP's injects herself with insulin daily (her justification? she needs HER life to fight for the animals, your terminally ill kid can just die)

Kay
Kay

I just think it's a bit fucked up that anyone would rather fight for the rights of whales than for the rights of humans. If you don't understand that, then I think you should go live with the whales, as they are obviously equivalent to human life in your brain. And I also have yet to see your argument on the pets issue. Why is it okay for a dog or cat to be owned and trained to do tricks, but not for a whale?

sofnoverit
sofnoverit

Oh, and one more thing: if you want to dish out Constitutional rights to whales, why not just change the language?  It could read like this: "We the living breathing multi-species inhabitants of mother earth, in order to create a more perfect giant drum circle that caters to every whiny wack-job around..."  Our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves.

kjs
kjs

Actually, according to Koch's postulates "the specific disease must be reproduced when a pure culture of the bacteria is inoculated into a healthy susceptible host." Host = living organism. Just saying...

Kay
Kay

I'm not the one "making a mockery", PETA is doing that to themselves. All their time and effort could be going toward something much more meaningful. Instead, they're wasting it on whales. SeaWorld is SO evil for making animals do tricks? As I said, what of people that own pets? Pets that are confined in cages, and forced to do tricks for the entertainment of their owners. Should owning pets be illegal? And my point about PETA wasting their time while there are LARGER issues at hand is completely valid. If a mother had a child with a broken arm crying in the corner, but the house was also a mess and she decided to clean instead of bring the child to the hospital, is that OKAY because the house was dirty? No. The house could have stayed dirty, the child should have been first priority. Some things are more important than others, and when someone chooses to sink all their time and energy into freeing a legally owned animal when they could be saving a starving child or helping fix one of the REAL problems in this world, it just pisses me off. Now, I like animals, don't get me wrong, but there really are BIGGER things going on that deserve attention over this nonsense, period. There are places where women get BEAT in public for wearing skirts that are too short, but OMG the WHALES! The whales are being prodded and poked and given fish! We must put all our efforts toward freeing them! Fuck the women being beat, the whales need our attention. Give me a break.

Halogod_04
Halogod_04

 so your telling me that its "wrong" for scientists to test cures for cancer, diabetes and AIDS on mice (for the most part). I can understand the testing of useless stuff like make up and things of that nature is a very morrally wrong thing to do, but testing cures for major diseases that kill thousands of people a year is worth sacrificing millions of mice that were specifically bred for that purpose. About the whales, most of them have it 1000 times better than a lot of people in this world, they get fed everyday, they get protection from illegal whale hunters and other predators, a lot of people in this world don't even get fed once a week let alone everyday. Yes I agree a lot of the places these animals are kept is very small but they are alive and protected.

Joy
Joy

They may not be people, but as humans we are their voice!!!!! WE ARE THE VOICE OF THE INNOCENT!!! They cannot speak and it's our job to protect them!

Joy
Joy

Then you don't understand PETA!

Joy
Joy

Yeah, you can train an orca to do anything.... it's called punishment!!!! But animals weren't made to be exploited!!! And for humans to make money off of!!!! Do you think the whale voluntarily signed up to do tricks??? They are trained by punitive measures... Ever hear about the two-ton elephant that killed its' trainer? The trainer was prodding the "gentle-by-nature" animal with a sharp, knife-like rod; if the elephant DIDN'T do what the trainer wanted, it was poked and prodded! 

nanook5
nanook5

there's certainly a lot less whales than there are people right now, do you disagree?

Stephanie
Stephanie

I wish I was a better person and didn't feel the need to reply but since you're misrepresenting me and my views, I find it necessary. I think you're truly misunderstanding this. Nobody would RATHER fight for the rights of whales over the rights of humans, this article/forum is simply about whales. Feel free to google 'human rights" articles/blogs/etc. and you'll find like-minded people where you can happily express yourself. I don't understand why you feel that people are choosing to fight for the whales rights instead of humans- this is merely a cause people are passionate about, as are you with humans rights. It would be like me commenting on a human rights article stating that I think it's a bit fucked up that anyone would rather fight for the rights of humans than for the rights of whales... and for the record, that isn't true at all. I'm just stating my opinion that I don't believe wild animals should be kept in captivity as it pertains to this article. 

As for my "argument" about pets being trained to do tricks, well dogs and cats are domestic animals. There is no denying that they can be mistreated when they're being trained or just in general by their owners, but I don't really think training a dog or a cat is comparable to training an orca. Some radicals may be offended by that, claiming no animal deserves to be "trained to do tricks", but  that's where me and I don't doubt many PETA members differ. I don't find that training your dog to sit is at all the same as training a whale to jump out of the water and arch its back for people's enjoyment. I also find it different because, if you're a decent pet owner, your pet is in a loving environment, where it has the ability to go outside (this is more in reference to dogs), roam around freely rather than being feral on the street. I'm not saying the animals trainers of these whales necessarily mistreat them, but I don't think they should have "owners" in the first place. There's a reason you wouldn't call a whale, lion or bear a domestic animals. They are wild and exotic and should be left alone in their natural habitat. That's my main point in all of this. 

Kay
Kay

Oh, and as far as constitutional rights go, for whales, since according to PETA they should apply to whales, then Tilikum should receive a trial with a jury and possibly get the death sentence for murder. Honestly. -.-

Isabella
Isabella

oh wow, how kind people are! they're keeping them ALIVE! gee!news flash, buddy. the average life of an orca in the wild is 60 years for males, and 80 years for females. in captivity? 40 years is pretty much a miracle."they get protection from illegal whale hunters and other predators"... orcas are apex predators, meaning they have NO natural predators. and yes, whaling is a HUGE issue. so how about instead of sticking wildlife in glass boxes, we STOP THE WHALING?and why? why are humans more important then other animals? why do we have to protect humans over whales and dolphins and sharks and other animals? who decided we're better then them? because i say we're NOT. i say WE, HUMANS, got this world into it's current state of environmental DISASTER. so it's up to us now to put nature in front or ourselves, for a change. i'm not saying we shouldn't be helping humans, too. we absolutely SHOULD. but you, me, people in asia, people in europe, africa, south america.... we're not the priority right now. NATURE IS. EARTH IS. 

Joe
Joe

No, it really isn't.  How about you donate to some starving children on the African tundra first, then you can worry about the rights of animals that, for all intents and purposes, probably don't give a shit about your "voice".

bigriggs
bigriggs

Sure I do. PETA consists of a bunch of stupid freaks that sticks their nose in wherever it does not belong.

kjs
kjs

Clearly, you don't know anything about how Sea World trains these animals. It's positive reinforcement only. No hitting, no threatening, nothing violent. If the animal performs the trick, great!, it gets a sort of confirmation (fish, ice, whistle blow, head rub). If the animal doesn't perform the trick, no reinforcement. The trainer just does nothing then tries again when the animal is ready. 

And before you go "omg, these animals are being starved for not performing tricks," they're still fed. The full grown orcas get at least six buckets worth of assorted fish in the morning alone. That's better than one hunt in the wild sometimes. I know this because I've prepped those meals before.

If these animals were truly being mistreated, I would understand the fight (not using the 13th amendment, but the fight). But if Peta honestly thinks these whales can be re-released to the wild after years of captivity, they obviously didn't do any research in those 18 months. 

Halogod_04
Halogod_04

ok how about this, what have you done for animals and the environment? 

Kay
Kay

Current state of environmental disaster? LOL. ugh. I'm assuming you believe in "global warming". Do some research. The Earth has gone through environmental changes multiple times in the past, LONG before people. You think the earth has the same climate now as it did during the Jurassic era? Or what about the multiple ice ages it's gone through? Did humans cause those "environmental disasters"? Newsflash: The earth has constantly had a changing environment since the beginning of time. It's something you learn in primary school. How many species of animals went extinct before humans ever even came around? Many. Many, many, many, many. So many, that we haven't even discovered them all yet. So why, all of a sudden, are HUMANS the cause when this has been happening since the beginning of time? I'll tell you why. Humans *want* to believe that they are the cause. We *wish* we were the cause. If we were in fact the cause, then we could do something to change it. We could prevent the inevidable from happening by "changing our ways", the inevidable being a changed environment in which our species won't be able to adapt. Animals we rely on dying out due to a natural change in environment, that we don't *want* to believe is natural. Humans like to think that they are more significant than they are. No, I didn't say "important", I said significant. We are SO vastly insignificant. Cows, COWS, one of your beloved animals, let more pollutants into the air than your average vehicle. We make such little impact, good or bad. The earth is going to do what it's always done. We are just here for the ride.

bigriggs
bigriggs

Being part of the community by suing SeaWorld claiming thse whales have the same rights as humans??? Pretty much makes my point for me. PETA is such a joke. There's a fruit fly in my house and I just killed it, enjoyed the hell out of killing it. Did I infringe upon it's rights?

Isabella
Isabella

sorry, but who determines where people's noses belong? if you believe something is wrong, are you going to stand there and watch it go on? no, you're going to do something about it, or you're just a lazy ass bitch. PETA is sueing seaworld, and for good reason. and because the people at PETA believe in this cause, they're trying to do something about it. that's not "sticking your nose where it does't belong", that's being a part of a community.

Drumxrxgrl
Drumxrxgrl

also important to keep in mind, is that, and please note that this is open to debate and is simply an opinion and not a fact, animals were made for humans exploitation. I hate to get biblical but animals were made, according to the christian bible, to be used by humans. Again this is only another way to say that PETA is wrong, just another form of support for their opposition but a argument that I felt needed to be shared.

sofnoverit
sofnoverit

You need to keep in mind that, according to her previous posts, our foul mouthed little friend is in eighth grade.  Poor thing just doesn't know any better.  It also doesn't say a whole about the state of education in this country (really, sweetie, that's the best you can do?) but I'll leave that topic for another rant somewhere else... And kudos, kjs.  Well said. :-)

kjs
kjs

It's not really ignorant when you watch it happen, is it? Plus, sweetie, I'm a marine biologist, you don't need to lecture me. But if they were being starved, don't you think they'd be, you know, dead? I know what orcas are meant to eat. I know they will "beach" themselves to catch sea lions and will knock penguins and seals off ice flows. I know they have no real threat, other than people. Hell, they're so badass they'll take out a great white. I get it. Trust me. But I look at places like Sea World as something else. I see conservation. I see all the great work being done within the zoo programs to rescue and rehabilitate animals that can be released, and continuing care for those that can't. I see breeding programs that keep species from going extinct. Would you rather those animals go extinct because people can't handle the environment? Is that really any better than what you see?

Yes, there are some zoos and aquariums that need to be shut down. There is one quite close to where I live that I would like to see close. But those animals will have to be put in a better facility. Why? Because they were never taught to hunt or to run or to live in a group. These orcas would do no better in the wild. Yeah, they'd be where they were meant to be, and that, in theory, I can see that would be great. But depending on the age they were taken, they won't really know these hunting strategies that these whales develop as a culture. It is their culture to hunt in these special techniques, not a given that all whales know. And if you want those whales that were grown in captivity to be in the wild, well, you might as well shoot them for it good it'll do.

Isabella
Isabella

they ARE being mistreated. they ARE being malnurished. even if they're not being starved, which i doubt, the food they are given is INADEQUATE. seaworld "owns" two different subspecies or orca-- resident, and transient. resident eat fish. transients, on the other hand, eat seals, penguins, other dolphins, porpoises, even some whales. but at seaworld, all orcas are fed fish. DEAD fish. in the wild, even a resident orca would never eat a DEAD fish, much less a transient. because an orca's esophagus and trachea are NOT connected, orcas cannot vomit. they are forced to eat the dead fish provided for them. this can lead to digestive poisoning. and this isn't the only way orcas at seaworld are mistreated. get your facts straight before you post ignorant shit. 

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