U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller is reviewing a lawsuit filed by PETA to have five orcas released from Sea World. PETA says the orcas are slaves because they are held in captivity and forced to perform for money in San Diego and Orlando, Florida.
The 13th amendment to the Constitution abolished human slavery and was passed in 1865, but it doesn’t include animals in its definition of slavery, said the judge. PETA’s attorney Jeffery Kerr countered, “Tilikum, Katina, Kasatka, Ulises and Corky have been captive and subjected to treatment that we feel is slavery.” (Source: Toronto Sun)
Last year Sea World announced a new orca show in Orlando, stating “At the core of the show is the unifying message that both animals and humans are part of one world, with one ocean, and its future is in our hands to cherish and protect.” (Source: Sea World)
The show called Shamu Rocks sounds a lot more like a circus act than an educational experience though: “Rock the night away, with Shamu. This show has more flash—and certainly more splash—than a rock concert. Check out amazing killer whale behavior set to sizzling rock and roll music, along with dazzling lighting effects and breathtaking multimedia elements.”
At the gate, an Orlando Sea World adult ticket is $81.99 and a child’s is $72.99. One facility at Orlando Sea World has 4,900 seats, and orcas were performing there, according to the state of Florida. With that number of seats and at those rates, the amounts of money pouring in are very large, but what portion of it benefits the animals?
One could argue these marine parks are nothing but for-profit companies that only are lucrative because of the animals they feature, yet the animals are kept in confined spaces which harms them. So there may not be legal precedent for defining orcas held in captivity and made to perform to enrich their human owners as slaves, but they are slaves in practice.
Image Credit: Michael Lowin, Public Domain