PETA Calls for Cruelty-to-Animals Charges Against SeaWorld

On Anniversary of Tilikum’s Capture, Group Urges Florida State Attorney to Stop Theme Park From Causing Orca’s Suffering

For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Orlando, Fla. — On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the capture of Tilikum—the orca who lashed out and killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld in Orlando—PETA has submitted a formal complaint urging Florida State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton to investigate the park and pursue felony charges for alleged violations of Florida’s anti-cruelty statute. As PETA points out in its letter, Florida law prohibits intentionally causing excessive or repeated unnecessary suffering—and SeaWorld knowingly subjects Tilikum to the constant stress, agitation, conflict, and injury inherent in keeping a far-ranging, highly social mammal in captivity.

“Tilikum’s sad, decades-long story of deprivation and aggression reveals what happens when sensitive, intelligent marine mammals are locked up in SeaWorld’s concrete tanks,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The state attorney has a duty to enforce Florida’s laws—and that includes the anti-cruelty statute that PETA believes SeaWorld flagrantly disregards.”

Leading orca researchers agree that captivity is devastating to these mammals, who, in the wild, share intricate relationships with one another, swim as far as 100 miles every day, and work cooperatively to find food. Tilikum was traumatically rounded up and taken from his family in the wild on November 9, 1983. Now, he—like the other orcas at SeaWorld—is denied the opportunity to express any of this natural behavior. This constant stress takes its toll on the orcas, who often die at young ages and frequently display abnormal behavior that is never seen in the wild, such as gnawing on the gates and concrete sides of the tanks, floating listlessly, and exhibiting excessive and deadly aggression toward humans and other orcas.  

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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