PETA, Experts to SeaWorld: Stop Using Dolphins’ Faces as Surfboards

PETA, Blackfish Director, and Dolphin Behavioral Biologist Release White Paper Detailing Damage Done by Cruel, Destructive Circus-Style Shows

For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

San Diego

At a PETA-led news conference on Wednesday, a team of experts will share a new veterinary report asserting that dolphins at all three SeaWorld parks have open wounds and extensive scarring on their faces and bodies—but trainers still ride on their backs and stand on their faces during performances. The panelists will demand an end to the trainers’ dangerous practice of placing their full bodyweight on a dolphins’ sensitive lower jaws, which may damage their hearing, strain muscles and joints, and exacerbate the injuries caused by confinement to SeaWorld’s tiny tanks.

When:    Wednesday, June 5, 11 a.m.

Where:    Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown (Union Pacific room), 601 Pacific Hwy., San Diego

“SeaWorld ceded to public pressure and said that it would phase out its circus-style orca shows, but dozens of other dolphins are still packed into shallow tanks, forcibly bred, and used as surfboards and launch pads in its shows,” says PETA Foundation veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally. “PETA is calling on SeaWorld to end these demeaning tricks and stop standing on dolphins’ backs and faces.”

The panel will include Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite as well as the reports’ co-authors—Dr. Rally and behavioral biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff, the director of research at TerraMar Research—who compiled the report based on recent in-depth observations at all three SeaWorld parks.

The panelists will discuss how dolphins in nature swim up to 60 miles a day, dive to depths of nearly 1,500 feet, and maintain dynamic relationships within a large social network. But at SeaWorld, they’re packed by the dozens into shallow tanks in which they can’t escape attacks from other frustrated, aggressive dolphins. Countless dolphins were observed to have rake mark injuries and scars—the parallel, linear wounds sustained when they’re bitten while swimming—and wounds and scars on the end of their rostrums, the beaklike projection of their mouths.

PETA’s report will be available during and after the news conference. The group—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

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