‘Sea World Drive’ Signs Are Free Highway Advertising for Whale Jail—PETA Wants Orca-Friendly Name Change for Road

For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

San Diego

SeaWorld reportedly owes San Diego over $12 million in back rent and fees, so why is the city still giving the company free advertising in the form of a road named after it? In a letter sent this morning to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, PETA is urging him to change the name of the road leading to the notorious abusement park to “Free Corky Drive” and offering to cover the cost of new signage and host an unveiling event to share the story of Corky, the longest-held captive orca in the world. The suggestion follows the global outrage over the death of Lolita, who, like Corky, was taken from her family in the wild. After Lolita spent decades in confinement at the Miami Seaquarium, a plan to move her to a seaside sanctuary came too late.

Corky the orca being forced to perform
Corky is forced to perform. Credit: PETA

“Corky has spent more than 54 years in tiny concrete tanks, where she watched her babies die one after another and now has nothing to do but swim in endless circles,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on the City of San Diego to promote Corky’s freedom instead of her cruel imprisonment at SeaWorld by updating this road’s name to ‘Free Corky Drive.’”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Gloria follows.

July 2, 2024

The Honorable Todd Gloria

Mayor of San Diego

Dear Mayor Gloria:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including over 60,000 in the San Diego area—with a proposal that would better align the city with the times: Please change the name of the controversial “Sea World Drive” to the compassionate “Free Corky Drive.” This move would help the orca Corky, an unwilling decades-long resident of San Diego, and right a historical wrong of promoting her cruel confinement.

Following global outrage over Lolita’s death at the Miami Seaquarium, all eyes are on SeaWorld to do the right thing before another animal dies in a tiny tank. Like Lolita, Corky was torn away from her family and ocean home and has known only misery for more than 50 years. She has had no life other than swimming endless circles in a concrete tank. Experts are already working on a seaside sanctuary in her home waters, where she could dive deep, swim greater distances, and possibly even communicate with her family—and “Free Corky Drive” could help her get there.

Meanwhile, “Sea World Drive” road signs are free advertisements for SeaWorld—which only helps the company continue to imprison animals—as well as an endorsement of its egregious treatment of animals. SeaWorld is alleged to owe the city more than $12 million in back rent and fees, which is yet another reason why it has no business benefiting from this free advertising. California has led the country in protecting orcas by becoming the first state to ban cruel orca breeding, and now San Diego has a chance to be a leader for orcas by replacing this promotion of the park with a name that would honor and help Corky instead.

It’s time for Corky, the longest-held captive orca in the world, to regain some semblance of a natural life in a seaside sanctuary. We’d be happy to contribute to the cost of new signage and to host a “Free Corky Drive” sign unveiling event to tell her story. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.


Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President

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