Complaint Filed Over SeaWorld Veterinarian’s False Claims

PETA Alerts Officials to Theme Park Vice President’s Apparent Attempt to Deceive the Public About the Suffering of Captive Marine Animals

For Immediate Release:
November 18, 2014

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Tallahassee, Fla.

This morning, PETA filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation against SeaWorld’s vice president of veterinary services, Dr. Christopher M. Dold, for making apparently false claims about the welfare of the orcas and other animals at SeaWorld. As PETA notes in its complaint, observations from independent experts as well as SeaWorld’s own veterinary records reveal that captivity at SeaWorld is physically and psychologically devastating to the orcas and other animals confined there—yet Dr. Dold wrote in a September 4, 2014, guest column for Florida Today that “I can unequivocally state that our whales, along with every other animal in our parks, are thriving, both mentally and physically.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—contends that these claims constitute violations of Florida’s veterinary medical practice regulations, which prohibit fraud and deceit in the advertising and practice of veterinary medicine.

“No reasonable person—let alone a responsible veterinarian—would claim that the listless and aggressive orcas or dolphins suffering from open wounds at SeaWorld are ‘thriving,’” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “PETA is calling on the authorities to make sure that the SeaWorld veterinarian does not deliberately mislead the public.”

PETA’s complaint includes a litany of evidence of animal suffering at SeaWorld. Orcas repeatedly bite on the corners and steel gates of their tanks, breaking their teeth and leading to chronic infections, and they exhibit excessive and deadly aggression toward each other and trainers and are given psychotropic drugs to try to reduce the aggression caused by captivity so that the frustrated animals can be confined together. Dolphins suffer from potentially serious skin conditions and open wounds on their lower jaws, and animals engage in stress-induced, unnatural behavior, such as lying motionless in their tanks and attacking each other. And a walrus repeatedly swam in circles in a tank and regurgitated and re-ingested his food.

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