Written by PETA
A judge has temporarily ruled that video footage and photographs of the violent killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by Tilly the killer whale will not be made public. The fight over that will rage on, I'm sure. But the autopsy report has been released today, and it makes it very clear that Dawn Brancheau's last moments were filled with tremendous suffering. Despite massive public relations efforts on SeaWorld's part to smooth over the "incident"—i.e., death by killer whale—by characterizing it as "play" that went a bit wrong, the autopsy shows that Tilly was not in the mood for affection.
The six-page report reveals that Brancheau's left arm and part of her scalp were ripped off. She suffered spinal cord injuries, and her ribs as well as bones in her legs, arms, and face were broken. She had bruises and cuts all over her body. And she drowned.
As PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk states, "These were not love bites, but the vented fury of an angry and frustrated being who has been deprived of everything in life: family, friends, freedom—all for the sake of human profit and a few giggles."
The gory details of Dawn Brancheau's death are further evidence that animals who are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them throughout their entire miserable lives in sea parks, circuses, and zoos around the world will continue to attack and kill people whom they see as having a role in the denial of their freedom and family connections.
Whether by writing, tweeting, picketing, getting creative, or (ideally) doing all of the above and more, please help Tilly and the many other animals who are being held in captivity and deprived of everything that is natural to them. And the most important thing that anyone can do to help imprisoned animals is to refuse to patronize marine or other abusement parks.
Written by Karin Bennett
Say you want to take a protest against SeaWorld's mistreatment of captive orca Tilly beyond letters and boycotts. What's a performance artist to do?
Brian Feldman came up with a brilliant action that he's calling "Tilikunundrum": Starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow, he will spend 18 hours in a bathtub at SeaHouse, a private residence in Orlando. Each hour in the tub will represent one of the 18 long years of Tilly's captivity, during which he's been forced to eat, sleep, swim, defecate, and perform in pools that, to an orca, are equivalent in size to a bathtub.
Brian says, "If you think that's wrong, you're right." We say, "Right on!"
You're invited to volunteer at the event—and if you'd like to watch but can't make it in person, the event will be streamed live.
Now that Brian Feldman has shared his caring and clever plan to protest SeaWorld's cruelties, describe the awesome action(s) you'll be orcastrating* on Tilly's behalf.
*Must. Stop. Punning.
PETA India hopes that Jairam Ramesh—union minister of state for environment and forests—will heed the message of last month's disaster at SeaWorld and immediately halt plans to build a dolphinarium to house Gangetic dolphins at the National Zoological Park in New Delhi.
Gangetic dolphins are a critically endangered species of freshwater dolphin. They were recently declared the National Aquatic Animal of India, but the way to save them is not by keeping them in chemically treated pools. Most captive dolphins die prematurely and live to only half the age of their wild brothers and sisters. Wild dolphins live with family pods, and capturing even one dolphin disrupts the entire group. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters, where the animals are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted onto the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some animals die from shock or stress, and others slowly succumb to pneumonia when water enters their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Instead of condemning dolphins to a grim fate in a tank, the Department of Environment and Forests would better serve these endangered animals by taking decisive measures to protect and conserve the beleaguered Gangetic dolphins in their natural habitat. Back in 2001, thanks to the help of many dedicated supporters, PETA successfully convinced the Virginia Marine Science Museum not to add a dolphin tank to its facilities. Instead, Virginia Beach, Virginia, visitors who want to see marine mammals visit the beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean and view the animals in their natural environments. With public sentiment against aquatic prisons at an all-time high, we're hopeful that the Indian government will make the humane decision to keep these sensitive, intelligent, and endangered animals where nature intended them to be.
Written by Logan Scherer
The temperature may have been well below freezing, but PETA's foxes heated up the bustling streets of Helsinki, the capital of Finland—which has a record of killing more foxes for their fur than almost any other nation. Thanks to Riina Laine's masterful body painting, these ladies were the objects of nonstop attention—and they spread the message that only animals should wear fur.
The easiest—and chicest—way to save a fox (and a dog and a cat and a mink and a—yeah, you get the picture) is to pledge to go fur-free forever.
Faster than you can say Frau von Hammersmark, actor-director Eli Roth took to Twitter following last month's death of a SeaWorld trainer to speak out against keeping marine mammals in captivity.
The Inglourious Basterds star knows that if SeaWorld continues to exploit and abuse animals, then a sequel to the fatal horror show will inevitably surface. So Roth has written to Hamilton James—the CEO of Blackstone, SeaWorld's parent company—asking that the theme park immediately move its imprisoned animals to coastal sanctuaries and replace them with state-of-the-art virtual reality exhibits.
Having helmed groundbreaking horror films such as Cabin Fever and Hostel, Roth is an expert on humane alternatives to live animals in entertainment—from CGI technology to animatronics. In his letter, he suggests these technologies and lets James know that "showing visitors a more realistic version of what life is like for real marine mammals rather than displaying the captive animals' unnatural and repetitive behavior patterns—which are linked to their oppressive environment—is actually more educational, with no risk to human life."
Join Roth and the many other stars who have spoken out against SeaWorld by urging James to release these jailed animals to sanctuaries before another animal or human dies.
Written by Logan Scherer
Really-old-but-still-totally-relevant history lesson (it's quick—I promise!): The Ancient Greeks were so awed by dolphins, whom they deemed friends to humans, that every time they spotted one swimming behind a ship, they considered him or her a good omen. Now, a new study suggests that in order to respect our marine friends and cognitive cousins, we must simply stay away from them. Findings from researchers at Newcastle University suggest that human interactions with dolphins—from following them in tourist boats to swimming with them to touching them—are harmful to these intelligent, sensitive mammals.
The report claims that when humans swim near bottlenose dolphins and touch them, they inflict severe stress on them, "preventing them from resting, feeding or nurturing their young." The study found that whenever tourist boats are present, dolphins become unsettled, and according to Newcastle University's Dr. Berggen, "[T]he dolphins are using more energy than they are taking in because they aren't resting or feeding as much but are swimming more as they try to avoid the tourist boats." This has a negative impact not only on individual animals but also on the population as a whole, and long term, it could be devastating.
Every dolphin is a self-aware individual with a unique personality, so it's no surprise that these animals are perceptive to their surroundings and susceptible to stress-related illnesses. If they're so intensely affected by the mere presence of humans, just imagine the kind of irreparable trauma they suffer when pulled from the ocean and placed in SeaWorld's chemically treated prisons. The only way that we can ensure that they'll live natural, happy, and peaceful lives? Leave them alone—no matter where they are.
Remember Keiko? As you may recall, Keiko was a wild orca who was captured in Iceland in 1979 and sold to a series of aquariums, where he was forced to perform tricks for food. He became sick and severely depressed. In 1993, after the movie Free Willy prompted a call for his retirement, Keiko was moved to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where he was rehabilitated before being transferred to an ocean pen in Iceland. For five healthy years he lived free near wild orcas, hunting and catching his own food. At one point, he navigated more than 1,000 kilometers of open ocean as he made his way to Norway before dying in 2003.
After the tragic death of a trainer at SeaWorld last month, we called on the park to release Tilly and the rest of the animals the corporation keeps penned up in tiny pools. As a result of our plea, we received calls and e-mails from many people who were all wondering: Is it possible to release a captive animal back into his or her natural habitat?
It's a good question, and those with legitimate concerns about captive animals' ability to fend for themselves will probably also ask: Can the risk of failure outweigh the opportunity to experience freedom? And even if there are risks, don't animals deserve some measure of the freedom they've been denied?
Of course, when we talk about releasing the animals at SeaWorld into the wild, they wouldn't simply be dumped into the ocean. The process would be a considerable undertaking, with marine biologists, animal behaviorists, and scientists involved in the animals' rehabilitation.
For those sea animals whose health or behavior has been too compromised by having spent years—or decades—in cramped, chemically treated tanks, there's a humane alternative to outright release. Protected sea pens would allow greater freedom of movement; the ability to see, sense, and communicate with their wild cousins and other ocean animals as well as to feel the tides and waves; and opportunities to engage in natural behavior that they've long been denied. At the same time, caregivers would be able to provide food and other needed care.
PETA's forecast for SeaWorld San Antonio—cloudy with a chance of freedom:
On Saturday, PETA's "Let Orcas Out of Prison" banner flew across the sky while dedicated PETA supporters on the ground spread the word that trainers and animals will continue to get hurt or die until SeaWorld frees the animals to sanctuaries.
Coastal sanctuaries are the only humane places for the wild animals who are currently used by SeaWorld and other parks and who suffer for years in confined, unnatural conditions. One psychologist has pointed out that Tilikum—the captive orca who killed a SeaWorld trainer—is so traumatized from the shock of his capture, the disruption of his natural development, and his more than 30 years of imprisonment in a concrete pool that if he were human, he would undoubtedly be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
SeaWorld's continued exploitation of these sensitive animals is nothing more than a callous way to turn a cheap buck. Please don't support it.
"How do you put an interactive, social animal, one of the smartest animals in the world … and you're going to stick them in a tub and make them do tricks? How do you do that? Because they make money? It's disgusting and SeaWorld is absolutely wrong. This is a big wake-up call. How many more people are going to have to be killed? When are we going to realize that these animals are not supposed to be there?"—Hayden Panettiere
When it comes to speaking out against SeaWorld, the stars are aligning. The vegetarian Panettiere—who appears in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove—joins Matt Damon, Bob Barker, Pamela Anderson, and many other celebrities who have lent their voices to support Tilikum by publicly denouncing the use of marine mammals for "entertainment."
Will you be the next to speak up? Ask SeaWorld to release the animals to sanctuaries.
OK, so we didn't get to see a song-and-dance number featuring Steve Martin and vegetarian Alec Baldwin—who also narrated PETA's now-classic documentary Meet Your Meat—but we're still pretty happy about how the highly buzzed Food Inc./Cove face-off turned out.
The Oscar for Best Documentary went to frontrunner The Cove—the universally acclaimed examination of Japan's bloody dolphin trade and slaughter. And in one of the most inspiring moments of the night, Ric O'Barry proved that he'll stop at nothing to end the slaughter by displaying a sign encouraging people to get active for dolphins during his acceptance speech.
The win couldn't have come at a better time for captive marine wildlife, as Sea World and other parks come under increasing scrutiny for their abysmal record of injuries and deaths of both trainers and animals in the wake of last month's incident at SeaWorld.
On the red carpet, The Cove's director Louie Psihoyos put it best when he said, "One animal killing three people in one lifetime shows these animals are stressed, they don't belong in captivity. And when we capture them out of the wild and force them to do stupid tricks for our amusement, it says more about our intelligence than it does theirs."
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.