Criminal Charges Sought in Videotaped Orca Attack at SeaWorld

Escape Is Impossible for Far-Ranging But Cruelly Confined Ocean Mammals

For Immediate Release:
August 29, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

This morning, PETA fired off a complaint to San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, calling on her to investigate and pursue cruelty-to-animals charges against SeaWorld for the physical and psychological suffering that orcas have no option but to endure in the theme park’s tiny concrete tanks, including injuries inflicted by incompatible animals. This follows recent eyewitness video footage of an attack among orcas at the park, which resulted in a serious wound to one orca, believed to be Corky, the longest-held captive orca in the world.

In the letter, PETA explains that attacks of this kind are rare in wild orca populations and that when they do occur, orcas can flee from conflict to avoid injury. However, SeaWorld’s barren tanks prevent the animals from making that evasive move—and from engaging in natural forms of behavior, including foraging and diving. PETA also contends that SeaWorld knowingly houses incompatible orcas together, putting the animals at risk of severe injury and under constant stress.

“It’s like knowingly housing a violent prisoner in a small cell with a vulnerable prisoner, although in this case, the animals’ only ‘crime’ is to have been born,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “Orcas can swim over 100 miles a day in their ocean homes, but in SeaWorld’s cramped tanks, they can’t escape violent attacks, which adds to their suffering.”

Over 50 years ago, Corky the orca was captured rodeo-style off the coast of British Columbia and sold into captivity, ultimately ending up at SeaWorld. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is pushing SeaWorld to release her and the park’s other orcas to seaside sanctuaries, where they could dive to greater depths, swim longer distances, and engage in other types of natural behavior.

PETA opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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