Lily Tomlin’s Iconic ‘Ernestine’ Answers Phones at SeaWorld

In this hysterical video for PETA, legendary funny lady Lily Tomlin, in her role as all-too-honest telephone operator Ernestine, attempts to distract callers from SeaWorld’s business plan, which has been less than popular since the company announced that it was ending its captive-orca breeding program:

In addition to the long-suffering orcas, SeaWorld also imprisons countless other sentient beings, such as bottlenose dolphins, who endure psychological distress and boredom from captivity. The tiny tanks that captive whales and dolphins are confined to leave them nothing to do but swim in circles, ram their heads against the tank walls, or float listlessly. The reverberations from their sonar bounce off the walls, often driving them insane.

In the wild, orcas share sophisticated social relationships, working together to find food and traveling up to 100 miles of ocean every day. But at SeaWorld, orcas are trapped with incompatible groups. They gnaw on metal tank bars, often breaking their teeth, and are given drugs to manage stress-induced aggressive and psychotic behavior. While SeaWorld’s announcement that it will no longer breed orcas is a step in the right direction, to do right by the orcas now, SeaWorld must move these long-suffering animals to ocean sanctuaries so that they can have some semblance of a natural life outside their prison tanks.

Special thanks to James Costa and the Archibald Family Foundation for sponsoring this project.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind