16 Times Schools and Students Spoke Up for Orcas

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Rose at Pasadena Court for SeaWorld Protest

  1. 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.


  1. A passionate group of third graders at Franklin Elementary School started a campaign to save Lolita—the orca who has been trapped in a tiny tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years—by writing letters, creating petitions, and putting up a Lolita-inspired bulletin board at the school.

Lolita optimized

  1. 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.

point dume elementary cancels seaworld field trip

  1. A group of students from Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, helped to create a giant mural of Lolita the orca to raise awareness of her plight in captivity and encourage other students to take action.

Sad Lolita

  1. Ten-year-old activist Maeve Wolski of Chicago raised money to help captive orcas like Lolita, organized her own protests, and told her class why she’ll never support cruelty by going on a field trip to see orcas in captivity.

lemonade for lolita

  1. 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.

SeaWorld Orca in Tank

  1. 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.
seaworld trip canceled dawson school

“I was so happy, and I felt like I had actually made an impact on Dawson School,” Phoebe said.

  1. 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.

seaworld protest

  1. Southern California kindergartener Cash Beery won hearts by creating the world’s sweetest video asking everyone to boycott SeaWorld as his birthday wish.
  1. 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.


  1. Teacher Amanda Lis of Williams Middle School in Tracy, California, taught a lesson on captive orcas and inspired her students to make a difference.

Orca with bent dorsal fin in tank at SeaWorld San Diego, 2011.

  1. 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.


  1. 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.

Orca tank at SeaWorld San Diego, 2011.

  1. 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?

Talk to your school about banning field trips to places like SeaWorld, and check out TeachKind’s lesson plans to teach kids why it’s wrong to keep animals in captivity!

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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