Quantcast
Connect with us

Court to decide if SeaWorld whales are illegal ‘slaves’

Published

on

A California federal court is to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.

The issue arises from a lawsuit filed by rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a San Diego court on behalf of five orcas named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

ADVERTISEMENT

The whales perform water acrobatics at the SeaWorld amusement parks in San Diego and in Orlando, Florida.

PETA argues that continuing the whales’ “employment” at SeaWorld violates the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits slavery.

District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard arguments in the complaint Monday and reviewed the response from SeaWorld, which asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. His ruling is expected to come later.

The suit, filed in October 2011, asked that the court declare that the orcas are “held in slavery and/or involuntary servitude by defendants in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

“It’s a new frontier in civil rights,” said Jeff Kerr, PETA general counsel, who described the hearing as a “historic day.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Slavery does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on race, gender or ethnicity,” he argued. “Coercion, degradation and subjugation characterize slavery and these orcas have endured all three.”

The complaint says the five killer whales are represented by their “friends” at PETA, which include three former killer whale trainers, a marine biologist and the founder of an organization that seeks to protect orcas.

The complaint demands that the court “appoint a legal guardian to effectuate plaintiffs’ transfer from defendants’ facilities to a suitable habitat in accordance with each plaintiff’s individual needs and best interests.”

ADVERTISEMENT

SeaWorld’s motion to dismiss argues that, the aendment “only protects people, not animals, from slavery and involuntary servitude.”

The courts lack authority to extend the amendment to animals, which could “open a veritable Pandora’s Box of inescapable problems and absurd consequences,” SeaWorld argued in motion to dismiss last year.

ADVERTISEMENT

The case is unprecedented not because no laws cover the issue but because PETA’s claims “are so baseless that no party has ever wasted the time, energy and expense of any court in making such claims in a lawsuit,” SeaWorld argued.

In 2010, Tilikum drowned a trainer after a show in Orlando and was kept in “complete isolation” in a small concrete tank afterward, PETA said.

SeaWorld denied any implications of cruelty to animals, instead accusing PETA of trying to get attention for itself with its lawsuit.

ADVERTISEMENT

“While PETA continued to engage in this publicity stunt, SeaWorld San Diego was returning four rescued and rehabilitated sea lions to the wild,” SeaWorld said in its response.

“SeaWorld remains the standard for zoological stewardship of marine animals and we reject any challenge to the conditions and quality of care for these remarkable animals,” SeaWorld said.

“The welfare of our whales is enshrined in numerous federal and state laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Fresno Bee burns Nunes to the ground in scathing editorial

Published

on

The editorial board of the Fresno Bee has written a scathing takedown of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) for his extraordinary fealty to President Donald Trump, which the editors say is harming the country.

Specifically, the editorial accuses Nunes of forsaking his oath of office as a congressman to serve as Trump's most loyal toady on the House Intelligence Committee.

"As has been true for nearly all of Trump’s first term, Nunes has relinquished his proper role as an independent representative of Congress and has instead acted like a member of the Trump 2020 re-election team," the editorial states.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Republicans blundered badly as their own impeachment expert witness wrecked their defenses of Trump: columnist

Published

on

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pinned their hopes on George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, their sole expert witness on the panel at the hearing on Wednesday, to discredit the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump.

But as anti-Trump conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote for the Washington Post, even Turley's testimony ended up damaging the GOP more than Democrats, because he undercut one of the GOP's most solid narratives in defense of the president: that trying to extort Ukraine with military aid would not be impeachable even if it was proven.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

‘Dirty’ Jared Kushner should be targeted if GOP makes impeachment trial about Bidens: strategist

Published

on

President Donald Trump has signaled that he wants Senate Republicans to turn his impeachment trial around on Democrats by actually making it a trial of the Biden family.

The president on Thursday signaled that he wants former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to testify at his impeachment trial in an effort to make the trial less about his own misconduct and more about purported misconduct by the Democrats.

However, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg on Thursday proposed a plan to counter this kind of misdirection: Going after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose shady dealings with world leaders have so far escaped significant scrutiny.

Continue Reading