Veterinarians Demand That Vet Association Cancel SeaWorld Outing

For Immediate Release:
January 17, 2014

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Orlando, Fla. – A group of angry veterinarians has fired off a letter to the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) urging the association to cancel its role in beleaguered SeaWorld’s latest PR ploy—a field trip to the Orlando marine park during the NAVC’s January 18–22 conference. In the letter, the vets outline some of the myriad cruelty for which SeaWorld is notorious, as shown in the hit documentary Blackfish. SeaWorld recently hired a crisis-management firm, but its approach is already backfiring. Earlier this week, PETA got the plug pulled on SeaWorld’s 50th anniversary bash in New York City after showing the venue the cruelty inherent in the park’s decades in operation, including the capture of infant orcas; confinement that leads to injury, illness, and premature death; and a life of severe deprivation.

“As veterinarians ourselves, we are shocked that a veterinary association would encourage its conference attendees to visit a cruel, anachronistic institution at which animal suffering is presented as entertainment,” the veterinarians wrote.

At least 37 orcas and dozens of dolphins have died at U.S. SeaWorld facilities from causes ranging from severe trauma and intestinal gangrene to chronic cardiovascular failure and necrosis of the cerebrum.

For more information, please visit SeaWorldOfHurt.com.

The letter, which the vets have allowed PETA to release, to the North American Veterinary Community follows.

January 16, 2014

To:       Thomas M. Bohn, CEO, North American Veterinary Community

From:   Elena Beis, D.V.M.; Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Holly Cheever, D.V.M.; Dominique Croteau, D.V.M.; Vera Heidolph, D.V.M., MIM; John G. Hynes, D.V.M. (licensed in N.Y., N.J., Vt., Pa., USDA-accredited in N.Y., N.J.); Armaiti May, D.V.M.; W. Ostgaard, D.V.M.; Narda G. Robinson, D.O., D.V.M., M.S., FAAMA; Erika Sullivan, D.V.M.; Barry Taylor, D.V.M.; Mary Xanthos, D.V.M.

Via e-mail: [email protected]

Dear Mr. Bohn:

It has come to our attention that the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) is encouraging veterinarians and veterinary technicians attending its conference next week to attend SeaWorld shows and observe SeaWorld’s veterinary care and husbandry. As veterinarians ourselves, we are shocked that a veterinary association would encourage its conference attendees to visit a cruel, anachronistic institution at which animal suffering is presented as entertainment.

Since the release of Blackfish, the critically acclaimed documentary that exposes SeaWorld’s violent capture and inhumane confinement of orcas, millions of people and dozens of celebrities have sworn off the marine animal park. Numerous acts—including Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Barenaked Ladies, and 38 Special—have recently canceled performances in SeaWorld’s upcoming concert series. Additionally, artists such as Joan Jett, Savage Garden, and Edward Winter have publicly called on the park to stop using their music in “Shamu Rocks,” the orca show at the park.

Many of the orcas at SeaWorld were captured from their family pods in the ocean. All are far-ranging animals, traveling as many as 100 miles per day in the wild. At SeaWorld, they are deprived of the opportunity to engage in almost any type of natural behavior and are kept in cement enclosures that to them are minuscule. Because of the constant confinement to tiny tanks, it’s no surprise that they become neurotic, self-destructive, and downright dangerous.

The USDA has also repeatedly cited SeaWorld facilities for failing to comply with the minimal requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for injuries sustained by members of the public at the park. At least 25 orcas and dozens of dolphins have died at U.S. SeaWorld facilities from causes ranging from severe trauma and intestinal gangrene to chronic cardiovascular failure and necrosis of the cerebrum. The orcas break their teeth by chewing on the underwater steel bars in their tanks and are so stressed that they attack each other. You can see photos of one such orca injury here.

More and more members of the public are now beginning to realize that SeaWorld has one of the worst animal-care records in history. In light of this disturbing information, may we please hear from you that you will discontinue plans for NAVC conference attendees to visit SeaWorld?

Sincerely,

Elena Beis, D.V.M.
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D.
Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California-Davis

Holly Cheever, D.V.M.
Voorheesville, N.Y.

Dominique Croteau, D.V.M.
Oakland, Calif.

Vera Heidolph, D.V.M., MIM
San Diego, Calif.

John G. Hynes, D.V.M.
New York, N.Y.
Licensed in N.Y., N.J., Vt., Pa.
USDA-accredited in N.Y., N.J.

Armaiti May, D.V.M.
Los Angeles, Calif.

W. Ostgaard, D.V.M.
Lyons, Colo.

Narda G. Robinson, D.O., D.V.M., M.S., FAAMA
Fort Collins, Colo.

Erika Sullivan, D.V.M.
Toronto, Ont.

Barry Taylor, D.V.M.
Franklin, N.H.

Mary Xanthos, D.V.M.
New York, N.Y.

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