PETA Sues SeaWorld

Compassionate people detest cruelty against animals. 

Incidents such as the reckless and useless slaughter of dolphins and whales provoke stomach churning revulsion.  Stories and pictures of abused dogs, cats and other creatures make any caring person heartsick over human cruelty.

It's good, then, to know most pet owners and zoo keepers hold affection for the animals in their care.  Circuses and other entrepreneurial efforts relying on trained animals for income have strict guidelines which ensure animals are treated kindly. Dozens of groups involved in protection of animals from cruelty are constantly on the watch against animal abuse.

Unfortunately, one of the world's premiere animal rights groups is embarked on a legal venture that invites ridicule while at the same time undermining serious efforts to ensure the kind treatment of animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of animals, (PETA), is suing SeaWorld parks on behalf of five fettered orca whales who are being held in insufferable bondage according to PETA's defense counsel Jeff Kerr.  Mr. Kerr, who is PETA's general counsel, cites the 13th amendment to the US Constitution as foundational to his case, some 18 months in the making.

According to the official PETA website, the orcas' lawyer states, "The suit is based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to 'person' or any particular class of victim. Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion."

Mr. Kerr waxes eloquent on behalf of nine ton plaintiffs Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.  He states:

"By any definition, these orcas are slaves -- kidnapped from their homes, kept confined, denied everything that's natural to them and forced to perform tricks for SeaWorld's profit.  The males have their sperm collected, the females are artificially inseminated and forced to bear young which are sometimes shipped away."


So now SeaWorld is going to take morality lessons from PETA, the same organization is documented as having killed 95% of the adoptable animals entrusted to its care?

Would the moral niceties concerning animal "slavery" be emanating from PETA, founder of a porn site devoted to anti-fur revolutionaries and passionate vegans?

And are we to take seriously the moralizing from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, who channels Gertrude Stein in the following reductionist riff undermining human beings' unique status:

"There's no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights.  A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

Of course, Ms. Newkirk's assumption that all living creatures have equal value and status with humans before the law is the Achilles heel of PETA's risible law suit.

If we're talking about absolute equality among all species, maybe plaintiff Tilikum, who killed his trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 by holding her head under water, could be charged with homicide should the gap between humans and orcas be eradicated as Ms. Newkirk and Mr. Kirk advocate?

It appears nothing much has been heard from the orcas themselves. But maybe character witnesses will be called to testify on behalf of the whales, including the serial killer Tilikum.  There is an unverified rumor that a humpback whale, interviewed here, could be called on to testify -- with Mr. Kerr interpreting whale glossalia, of course.

Just kidding.

We all gather that Mr. Kerr, in spite of his assuming equal status with the orcas, will do all the talking. We also can guess where any compensatory damages awarded to the newly liberated orcas would wind up.

Maybe in addition to trying to find character witnesses, animal rights musicians who are deeply moved by the fate of the SeaWorld orca slaves could revise the spiritual "Go down Moses," the lyrics and tune of which may be found here. It might better reflect the misery of the animals under the oppressive heel of their SeaWorld slave masters.

Sing along with Corky and the enslaved orcas!

Go Down PETA

When Corky was in SeaWorld Land,

Let my orcas go.

Oppressed so hard they could not swim,

Let my orcas go.

Go down PETA, way down in Sea World Land,

Let my orcas go...

I think I hear a porpoise  laughing.

--Fay Voshell may be reached at

[Hat tip to Rick Chandler for the idea of revising the lyrics to "Go Down Moses."]