SeaWorld and other abusement parks enslave orcas in small, barren tanks and force them to perform unnecessary tricks for “entertainment.” These businesses are built on the suffering of intelligent, social animals who are denied everything that’s natural and important to them—so it’s no surprise that more and more students, teachers, and schools are taking a stand and speaking out against this cruelty.
Check out these inspiring ways that schools, teachers, and students across the country have spoken up for orcas in captivity:
- Teacher Anthony Palmiotto and the students in his cinematic arts and video production class at Point Loma High School in San Diego created a gripping public service announcement to speak out against SeaWorld’s cruelty.
- Fourteen-year-old activist Rose McCoy of New York interrupted the Rose Parade to protest against SeaWorld peacefully by blocking its float and wrote this moving article to inspire other students to get active for animals who are being used and abused for entertainment.
- California State University–Long Beach administration announced that the school would be cutting all ties with SeaWorld after hearing from peta2 and student members of Cease Animal Torture.
- A passionate group of third graders at Franklin Elementary School started a campaign to save Lolita—the orca who had been trapped in a tiny tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than five decades—by writing letters, creating petitions, and putting up a Lolita-inspired bulletin board at the school.*
- Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu, California, canceled its long-standing SeaWorld field trip after hearing from concerned parents and students who had seen Blackfish and learned that there is nothing educational about the park.
- A group of students from Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, helped to create a giant mural of Lolita —the orca who had been imprisoned at the Miami Seaquarium—to raise awareness of her plight and encourage other students to take action.*
- Ten-year-old activist Maeve Wolski of Chicago raised money to help orcas imprisoned at marine parks like Lolita, organized her own protests, and told her class why she’d never support cruelty by going on a field trip to see imprisoned orcas.*
- Baylor University in Waco, Texas, chose compassion over cruelty and dropped SeaWorld as the venue for its annual summer alumni event because of its concern over the suffering of orcas kept in captivity.
- Dawson School in Lafayette, Colorado, canceled its “winterim” trip to SeaWorld after hearing from one of its eighth grade students, Phoebe Goldstein, who explained why it’s wrong to force orcas to perform ridiculous tricks and live in cramped, chemically treated tanks.
- San Diego high school student Zach Affolter went up against the Poway Unified School District to encourage it to cancel all plans to host school-related events at SeaWorld.
- Southern California kindergartener Cash Beery won hearts by creating the world’s sweetest video asking everyone to boycott SeaWorld as his birthday wish.
- University of California–Irvine became yet another university to make the compassionate choice to sever ties with SeaWorld by ending its ticket sales to the park.
- Teacher Amanda Lis of Williams Middle School in Tracy, California, taught a lesson on captive orcas and inspired her students to make a difference.
- San Diego high school student Camryn Thomson dressed up as the orca Tilikum, who has been held captive at SeaWorld for more than 30 years, for a protest against the abusement park—what she describes as her “proudest moment.” She was later named peta2’s 2015 Star Street Teamer of the Year.
- Fifth-grader Sydney Feucht from Mequon, Wisconsin, did an in-depth research project about orcas for school, which even included interviewing the director of animal trainers at SeaWorld—and she concluded that orcas should not be kept in captivity. After watching Blackfish, her family got rid of their “Zoo Pass,” too, because animals shouldn’t be kept in any type of enclosure.
- A group of students on peta2’s Youth Advisory Board did a “reflection project,” putting themselves in the place of lonely orcas trapped in captivity, which resulted in this compelling video to raise awareness of just how badly captive orcas are suffering:
Want your school to be the next to take a stand for orcas?
*On August 18, 2023, the long-suffering orca Lolita (aka “Tokitae,” “Toki,” and “Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut”) passed away. The Miami Seaquarium had finally agreed to release her to a seaside sanctuary off the coast of Washington state, but plans to make this move came too late. She was denied even a minute of freedom from her grinding 53 years of imprisonment.