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For Immediate Release:April 27, 2010
Contact:David Perle 757-622-7382 Washington, D.C. -- This morning, in testimony submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife, regarding SeaWorld and other marine amusement parks, PETA is calling for an end to the display of captive killer whales at the parks.
On behalf of its more than 2 million members and supporters, PETA is urging the committee to act to prohibit the confinement of orcas (killer whales) at SeaWorld and other marine-mammal parks, saying that the parks serve no educational or conservation value, misinform the public about the natural behavior of marine mammals in the wild, keep wild animals in circumstances detrimental to their health, and, in their quest for profit, knowingly expose trainers to the risk of serious physical injury and death.
PETA points out that far from being educational, one of SeaWorld's newest shows, "Believe," "blends new killer whale behaviors with elaborate set pieces, state-of-the-art multimedia, music, and choreography." The group faults marine parks for depriving captive orcas of the opportunity to follow natural feeding and foraging patterns while causing them to suffer physical effects such as collapsed dorsal fins. Captivity can also cause orcas to exhibit stress-related aggressive behavior such as destroying their teeth by chewing on the steel gates of the enclosures. All these factors cause the orcas to become frustrated and enraged. According to PETA, the animals also suffer a mortality rate more than twice that of orcas in the wild.
PETA cites a warning that was issued in 2007 by Cal/OSHA but suppressed by SeaWorld that, had it been heeded, would have prevented the February 2010 death of a trainer killed during a "Dine With Shamu" show at SeaWorld Orlando. In that case (the third kill by the 12,000-pound male orca, Tilikum), the woman was pulled underwater and, consistent with the predation of killer whales, was treated like prey--tossed and slammed about and held underwater to die. Although SeaWorld has variously described the death as an "accident" and the orca's behavior as "play," according to the autopsy report, the trainer, Dawn Brancheau, suffered spinal cord injuries and a lacerated liver, and her ribs, sternum, legs, arms, and jaw were broken. She had bruises and cuts all over her body, and her scalp and left arm were torn entirely from her body. PETA says that while SeaWorld reacted with public surprise, SeaWorld executives were well aware that such an incident was in fact inevitable.
"The public is unable to learn anything from observing orcas in captivity other than that some people believe that it is acceptable for humans to dominate other species and cause them to engage in repetitious, unnatural, and stressful 'new behavior' in environments that are far less than 1 percent the size of their natural habitat," says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. "This subcommittee now has the ability to eliminate enterprises that deprive orcas of the opportunity to fulfill their most basic needs and to follow their desires and instincts. The subcommittee's action can also stop the inevitable injuries and deaths of human beings that result from this abominable exploitation and disrespect for the lives of wild animals. PETA pledges to support the subcommittee in achieving this goal."
PETA's written testimony to the subcommittee is available upon request.
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