Skip to Main Content

Historic Day for SeaWorld Orcas in Court

Written by PETA | February 6, 2012

It was a landmark day in the U.S. District Court in San Diego today. For the first time ever, a federal court is considering whether or not the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery, applies to five orcas—Tilikum, Katina, Kasatka, Ulises and Corky—who are now incarcerated at SeaWorld amusement parks. PETA, three marine-mammal experts, and two former SeaWorld trainers filed the suit in the orcas’ behalf in October. SeaWorld filed a motion to dismiss the case—but that didn’t happen today. Instead, Judge Jeffrey Miller said he will consider the case and will issue a ruling at a later date.

For a full hour, Judge Miller asked thoughtful questions of both sides and listened as Jeff Kerr, general counsel to PETA, spoke in behalf of the orca plaintiffs.

“It’s a new frontier in civil rights,” Kerr said in his summary of the case. 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.”

We couldn’t agree more.

In the aerial view of SeaWorld, one can see how little room orcas have. Inside the circle is Tilikum,
whose nose and tail almost touch the ends of his tank. Image © 2011 Google


Commenting is closed.
  • Linda says:

    While I agree that all animals should be treated with love, dignity and respect … I think it’s ridiculous to even imply that the 13th Amendment applies to animals. I’m sorry, but animals are not people. The 13th Amendment applies only to HUMAN citizens of the United States! You’d know that, if you’d take the time to actually read the Constitution once in a while.

  • Tiffany Alamaa says:

    🙁 Just learned it was Dismissed… This could have been life changing. Poor Orcas PETA is The Voice of these poor whales. I brought it up in school and no one cares they either said “That’s BS,Why is peta doing that?” Or “There fish so who cares.” I almost cried right there. I just whis I wasn’t the only one at my school who cares.

  • marlee comstock says:

    All living creatures deserve a voice.If they do not have a voice,one shall be awarded to them. If any one thinks these beautiful creatures will be content in these tanks,they need to return to school.If they think their not capable of survival in the wild,they also need to rethink their mind set.

  • jas says:

    I do feel strongly that the orcas should not be in those cages. however, separately from this there is a strong line between animal rights and animal welfare. many fellow peta endorsers should realize this before endorsing.

  • ronald raz says:

    i visited SeeWorld @ San Diego a few moth ago. the whole place is a pathetic circus with no educational added value. a huge and brutal money machine. i’m surprised to see the size of the orca pool. the whole place should be shut down. also – take a look at this – assist us to stop the flourishing fur farming industry in Canada:

  • Margy says:

    I’m really glad and hopeful that this action succeeds. America and other countries seem to have an ambivalence towards animals. It’s wrong to use animals for entertainment purposes. Those days are gone along with the circuses. These beautiful creatures belong in the sea it is their world and doesn’t belong to us humans to reap and plunder. I welcome the day we see them all running and swimming free, again.

  • Christine says:

    All living things, no matter what species have the right to live a life free from suffering and bondage. Well done! “Until we extend the circle of compassion to include all living things we will not know peace.” – Albert Schweitzer Nor are we worthy of it.


    Wild animal must stay wild animal. Forever. Here in France I am very concerned about orcas and therefore I have joined PETA not only for orcas but for all animals suffering all over the world. Didn’t know that Tilikum was kept closed off since 2010. So sad, so cruel… it’s a shame such a shame…

  • Andrea says:

    PETA is awesome! But they shouldnt have sued under 13th amendment, they didnt get any public support. In my opinion they should have sued under via “animal crultey”, they would have alot more evidence that way. Teeth drilling, forced breeding, ect.

  • Ranjit Kumar says:

    You, I and others are born as accidentally, or I should say – mysteriously, as animals. I didn’t plan to be born, nor did animals. In this accidental kingdom can we not be respectful towards other accidental beings, including beings of other forms that don’t look like us – such as the Orcas. Hope the judgement is based on common sense instead of the heavy rules book.

  • indcwby says:

    Oh No! Save the whales!

  • nancy sanford says:

    Hello, I heard that cats are being boiled alive in foreign countries and that dogs are kept in chicken cages and skinned alive for their coats. Is this true and if so what can be done about this? Thank you, Nancy Sanford

  • F***Animalabusers says:

    End all animal abuse this is torture, i am only 18, but i wanna join PETA.

  • john moseley says:

    if people want to see, enjoy and learn about animals, they need to go into the wild to do it

  • ChippyRof says:

    Great news. Let’s hope that this is the first step in the long battle to prosecute Tilikum.

  • Beata Dachniewska says:

    Orcas belong to the sea and ocean. They are NOT for human amusement, they are NOT made to hold them in captivity. They are very intelligent, have feelings. Give them freedom, this slavery and abuse must be STOP right NOW! Orcas live in a family context. At Sea World they are mistreated, the workers have no understanding of killer whales, echolocation, which is confined in a tank with them doing = no good, they die young, lead, have pain, lose their teeth by unilaterally death diet, life is very short are aggressive and can not move. Are forced into artificial insemination. Condemned to slavery, there must come to an end. Now!

  • PT says:

    Something wonderful happened today when you brought this case to court. The Judge listened to a silent voice. If only they could talk then we would perhaps realise the error of our ways – there is so much pain put upon them by humankind. There is also much love too by a great many. The battle is not won but this is a milestone.

  • Ralph says:

    This. Will. End. With. It. Being. Overturned. In. A. Larger. Court. Especially when you notice that the “whale” is actually a shadow placed in the spot.

  • john doe says:

    I think that it is beneficial to study animals in captivity as well as in the wild…countless benefits have come from it!!!…..the problem is people….starts off a noble idea,….then the cost seems to surprise all I cant finish laving a message because I cant see the text while im typing because my smartphone aint so smart………………..(theres a flaw with all…..)involved…..then the poor funding threatens the whole endeavor….then come to mind…..and the animals have to endure it…so as in the case of seaworld,

  • Laura Gracia says:

    It is a new frontier in civil rights. This is just wonderful, to have people fight for the rights of those who cannot speak up to defend themselves. Thank You!!!

  • Katja says:

    Animals deserve the right to freedom just as we do! … We are all born equal and free in this Universe.

  • John Chamberlain says:

    In the old days people used to sue and prosecute animals all the time. In the 1790s the commune of Autun brought sue to excommunicate the rats who had been proliferating in the area. The attorney for the rats argued successfully that the suit was unsound because it charged the innocent (the rat kits) along with the guilty.

  • Jo says:

    They should be with there family’s in the wild. The only time a animal should be in captivity is when it’s being treated for health issues. 🙁