Wednesday, October 26, 2011
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to file a lawsuit today seeking to extend constitutional rights to captive whales on grounds that performers such as SeaWorld's Shamu are essentially slaves.
The lawsuit -- the first seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to animals -- names the five orcas as plaintiffs and demands their release.
A news conference to discuss the action is set for 11 a.m. at PETA offices in Los Angeles.
"All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,'' said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA's president.
"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. The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery, and these orcas are, by definition, slaves.''
SeaWorld said the lawsuit would be a "baseless'' publicity stunt and offensive to those the amendment was written to protect.
"SeaWorld has been informed that it is the target of an animal activist lawsuit challenging the public right to enjoy and learn more about marine mammals,'' officials with the marine park stated. "It is not appropriate to comment on a suit that has not yet been filed and that we have not seen, but
this effort to extend the 13th Amendment's solemn protections beyond human beings is baseless and in many ways offensive.''