Cetacean Slavery: PETA Sues SeaWorld for Violating Killer Whales’ 13th Amendment Rights

13th Amendment Killer Whale SeaWorld SIZE.jpg

Cetacean Slavery: PETA Sues SeaWorld for Violating Killer Whales’ 13th Amendment Rights

Tillikum, a killer whale at SeaWorld amusement park, performs during the show "Believe" in Orlando, September 2009. Tillikum, who drowned a trainer at SeaWorld last year, performed publicly on March 30, 2011, for the first time since the death. (Photo: Matthie Belanger/Reuters)

PETA has upped the ante in its fight to free SeaWorld’s killer whales.

The animal organization has filed a lawsuit in California federal court alleging that the park’s killer whales are actually slaves whose rights are being violated under the 13th Amendment.

Ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”



The wording is key here, folks: PETA is arguing that the amendment “does not specify that only humans can be victims,” reports The New York Times.

“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,” said PETA’s legal counsel John Kerr. “The males have their sperm collected, the females are artificially inseminated and forced to bear young, which are sometimes shipped away.”

Legal experts say the chances of the suit moving up the legal food chain aren’t particularly good:

A judge who hews to the original intent of the authors of the amendment is unlikely to find that they wanted to protect animals. But PETA relishes engaging in the court of public opinion, as evidenced by its provocative anti-fur and pro-vegan campaigns.