PETA Lawsuit Claims Performing Orcas are Slaves
Are the captive killer whales at SeaWorld and other sea parks "slaves" that are being held in involuntary servitude? Do orcas and other animals have the same rights as humans?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says "yes" to both questions, and they're making a federal case out of it.
A California federal court will soon decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.
That's what PETA is claiming, in a lawsuit it's filed on behalf of five orcas -- aka killer whales -- at SeaWorld amusement parks in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida.
PETA says keeping the whales captive at SeaWorld and forcing them to perform for audiences violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.
PETA's attorney says "Slavery does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on race, gender or ethnicity ... Coercion, degradation and subjugation characterize slavery and these orcas have endured all three."
SeaWorld's attorney says the 13th amendment was written to protect people, not animals, from slavery and involuntary servitude.
PETA's lawsuit asks the court to appoint a legal guardian who will move the orcas out of SeaWorld's facilities to a suitable habitat in accordance with each orcas's individual needs and best interests.
A ruling is expected soon.
SeaWorld's attorney says extending the 13th amendment to animals would open a Pandora's Box of problems and absurd consequences.
He says if PETA succeeds in getting equal rights for orcas, a precedent will be set, which will pave the way for more rights lawsuits in behalf of other domestic animals, including circus animals and livestock.