The captivity of Orcas, or killer whales, for amusement park performances and exhibitions first occurred in the 1960’s, predominantly at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL. SeaWorld describes their “One Ocean” Shamu show (Previously known as “Believe”) as a spirited and energetic journey that connects humans with the colors, vitality and rhythms of the ocean. Killer whales are acknowledged and appreciated for their extraordinary behavioral, learning, and problem-solving skills, and are thus used to enchant thousands of marine-loving visitors, young or old, each day.
All marine-loving visitors that is, except PETA, who is making another splash in the news.
Last October, PETA filed a lawsuit against the San Diego, CA SeaWorld for violating the 13th amendment and denying the Orcas of their constitutional right to freedom. The organization argued that the whales deserve the same protection from slavery and involuntary servitude as humans. PETA complained that the five plaintiff whales, Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises, are stripped from their natural environments, artificially inseminated, and bred as performers solely for SeaWorld’s profit.
This lawsuit was unquestionably a publicity stunt, and SeaWorld describes that act as a “baseless” argument and a waste of both time and money. The multi-million dollar company has been delighting park guests with whale performances for a little over 50 years now, and nothing has been said about the performers until recently by the group.
The show was created to showcase these majestic creatures and their talents and to bring awareness towards nature conservation and appreciation. The performances are certainly not just money-making schemes. SeaWorld is a business. Its goals are to provide an entertainment service to the public and to protect and preserve wildlife, respectively, and to make a profit. (That’s what businesses do, PETA). According to SeaWorld Inc., the company donates more than $1 million towards animals in need and endangered species each year, and has previously donated $8 million to protect wildlife and natural environments.
In my opinion, if the whales weren’t happy flipping and diving around for fish snacks all day, they wouldn’t be doing so. What about the actual human individuals who were enslaved in our country during the 17 and 18th centuries? It’s a tad bit unbecoming to that matter, especially since the whales are perfectly content in their SeaWorld homes.
Luckily, U.S. judge Jeffrey Miller agreed on February 8th that PETA’s outrageous equal-rights-for-whales claim should no longer be discussed. The lawsuit was the first in U.S. history to attempt to apply constitutional rights to non-human animals, and was dismissed two days after its beginning.
SeaWorld claims to treat their animals with love and care, stressing positive reinforcement, trust-built relationships, and providing the whales and other marine creatures with proper healthcare from well-trained professionals. The parks are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and remain respectable institutions for the care and appreciation of marine animals.