Animal-rights group PETA claims that capturing killer whales, confining them and training them to perform is the same as slavery.
The Associated Press reported that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known for its provocative campaigns, is accusing the marine-themed parks of violating the 13th Amendment ban on slavery by keeping their five wild-caught orca performers.
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The chances of PETA winning the case is slim, since a judge will likely rule that the amendment was not intended for animals. But PETA’s filing contends that the law does not single out humans as the only species protected.
SeaWorld responded in a statement, calling the suit “baseless and in many ways offensive.” The company says it follows strict guidelines and is dedicated to promoting animal welfare. And the suit might come across as offensive to some for equating the treatment of animals with human slavery.
But there is a growing interest in an expansion of laws that protect animal rights, and if anything, this suit is likely to get people talking.