Posted by happycowgirl at 10/27/11 11:25:57I was so excited about this lawsuit, I wrote to PETA for more information. Their thoughtful response is below:
"The lawsuit filed by PETA, along with three marine-mammal experts and two former SeaWorld trainers, maintains that the five wild-caught orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld parks are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The filing—the first ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to nonhuman animals—names the five orcas as plaintiffs and seeks their release to their natural habitats or to seaside sanctuaries. The suit is based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to “person” or any particular class of victim. To read more about our lawsuit, please go to http://www.PETA.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2011/10/25/peta-sues-seaworld-for-violating-orcas-constitutional-rights.aspx.
Our understanding of animals grows every day. Animals are no longer regarded as “things” to dominate but as breathing, feeling beings with families, dialects, intellect, and emotions. Just as we look back with shame at a time when we enslaved other humans and viewed some people as property less deserving of protection and consideration, we will look back with shame on our treatment of animals. The 13th Amendment exists to abolish slavery in all its forms—and this lawsuit is the next step. PETA exists to stop animal suffering, and we will use every tool that we have to do so, including the law. PETA will not shy away from criticism, and we don't hesitate to take on the largest animal-exploiting industries. We relish the chance to break legal ground and set precedents that will serve animals for years to come.
Please take a moment to read about the five wild-caught orcas at the center of this lawsuit:
• Tilikum was captured from his home and family off the coast of Iceland when he was just 2 years old and sold to SeaWorld in 1992. Faced with calls to free him, SeaWorld urged the Icelandic government not to return him to Icelandic waters and prevented his release.
You likely remember Tilikum because he's the orca who last year turned his aggression and frustration on his trainer and killed her—the third person he's killed during his years of confinement and chronic pain. For a year after the attack, Tilikum was punished with total isolation from other orcas, with much of that time spent in a concrete tank just 2 feet longer than he is.
As a result of continually gnawing at the steel gates between enclosures, Tilikum no longer has teeth on his bottom jaw. His teeth are now broken, leaving the pulp exposed and resulting in chronic pain, and he is being driven insane by the stress of captivity and lack of sufficient physical and mental stimulation. Tilikum is now the primary stud in SeaWorld's orca-breeding mill. His sperm has been used to produce some two-thirds of all orcas born at the parks. He's been trained to roll over and present his penis to trainers who masturbate him repeatedly to collect his sperm for breeding.
• In October 1978, 2-year old baby Katina and her 1-year-old pod mate, Kasatka, were captured by orca hunters off the coast of Iceland and sold to SeaWorld San Diego in 1979.
In the fall of 1984, the two were separated when Katina was shipped to SeaWorld Orlando, where she remains today. Katina was forced to breed when she was only 9 years old, much younger than orcas breed in nature. Since then, she's been used as a virtual breeding-machine, delivering six more calves and even being inbred with one of her sons. Like Tilikum, many of Katina's teeth are missing as a result of her stress-induced chewing on the tank grids. Kasatka has been at SeaWorld for three decades and has been forced to perform as many as eight shows a day.
• Ulises was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1980 when he was 3 years old and was sent to SeaWorld San Diego in 1994. For nearly two decades, he's suffered injuries and stress from being bullied by incompatible tank mates at the facility.
• In 1969, Corky was kidnapped from her family at the age of 3 off the coast of British Columbia. In 1987, Corky was transferred to SeaWorld San Diego, where she remains today. She has endured the longest captivity of any wild-caught orca, enslaved for more than 40 years. Corky has suffered seven forced pregnancies (she was continuously pregnant for almost 10 years from 1977 to 1986), and none of her calves survived more than 46 days. Her last stillborn fetus was found at the bottom of her holding tank. Despite these deaths, SeaWorld still attempted to breed her, and in August 1998, Corky suffered her seventh and final miscarriage at SeaWorld San Diego. She is reportedly blind in her left eye, and her upper and lower teeth are worn and decayed.
While SeaWorld touts its conservation efforts in slick television ads, it denies the animals in its care everything that is natural and important to them. In the wild, orcas are intelligent predators who work cooperatively in search of food. They share intricate relationships in a matrilineal society; orcas never leave their mother's pod for long. At SeaWorld, they are soon separated. While free orcas swim as far as 100 miles every day, at SeaWorld, they are forced to perform circus tricks for food and turn in endless circles in small, barren concrete tanks that, to them, are like bathtubs. It's not surprising that these captive animals live far short of the estimated 60- to 80-year life span that orcas enjoy in the wild. Their worlds have been reduced from fathoms to gallons, and they are driven insane by their diminished lives. To read more about orcas and the problems associated with marine-animal parks, please see our factsheet at http://www.PETA.org/issues/Animals-in-Entertainment/marine-animal-exhibits-chlorinated-prisons.aspx.
SeaWorld is about making money, not helping animals, and the cruelty that the company perpetuates is supported by customers. These animals will continue to live and die in misery as long as the public continues to buy tickets. Please never visit SeaWorld or any other aquarium or marine theme park.
For more information about aquariums and marine parks, please see http://www.PETA.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/Aquariums-and-Marine-Parks.aspx and http://www.PETA.org/issues/Animals-in-Entertainment/marine-animal-exhibits-chlorinated-prisons.aspx. "