Written by Jeff Mackey
The fight to free Lolita, the lone captive orca at the Miami Seaquarium, continues: PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the Orca Network, and private citizens concerned about Lolita's living conditions have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging its outrageous decision to renew the Seaquarium's federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license.
The AWA, which the USDA is charged with enforcing, prohibits licensing a facility that is out of compliance with the act. Yet the Seaquarium keeps Lolita without the company of another orca in a tank so small that it fails to meet the minimum legal size requirements and also offers no protection from the burning sun—all violations of the law.
In nature, where Lolita's mother still thrives at more than 80 years of age, orcas live in tight family units, with bonds that may last a lifetime. At the Seaquarium, Lolita swims in endless circles in a tiny barren cement tank. This highly intelligent and social wild animal has been without an orca companion since 1980, when her tank mate, Hugo, died of a brain aneurysm after reportedly ramming his head into the side of their tank, in what many believe to be a desperate attempt to break out of the tank—or even commit suicide.
© Terrell C. Newby,
was violently captured during a roundup of the
now-endangered Southern Resident killer whales off the coast of Washington State's Whidbey Island.
Please send a polite e-mail to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, eastern regional director of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA, asking that the agency revoke the Miami Seaquarium's exhibitor license. Also, never, ever visit any marine park or aquarium.
Written by PETA
It was a landmark day
in the U.S. District Court in San Diego today. For the first time ever, a
federal court is considering whether or not the 13th Amendment,
which prohibits slavery, applies to five orcas—Tilikum, Katina, Kasatka,
Ulises and Corky—who are now incarcerated at SeaWorld
amusement parks. PETA, three marine-mammal experts, and two former SeaWorld
trainers filed the suit
in the orcas' behalf in October. SeaWorld filed a motion to dismiss the
case—but that didn't happen today. Instead, Judge Jeffrey Miller said he will
consider the case and will issue a ruling at a later date.
For a full hour, Judge Miller asked
thoughtful questions of both sides and listened as Jeff Kerr, general counsel
to PETA, spoke in behalf of the orca plaintiffs.
"It's a new frontier in civil
rights," Kerr said in his summary of the case. Slavery does
not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on race, gender,
or ethnicity, he argued. "Coercion, degradation, and subjugation
characterize slavery, and these orcas have endured all three."
We couldn't agree more.
In the aerial view of SeaWorld, one can
see how little room orcas have. Inside the circle is Tilikum, whose nose
and tail almost touch the ends of his tank. Image © 2011 Google
Next Media Animation
Limited—the number one source for print and
online news in Taiwan and Hong Kong—posted
to YouTube its own oddly compelling spin on PETA's lawsuit against SeaWorld. Enjoy:
Please post this
great piece on your Facebook page and Twitter account and ask every parent and
grandparent you know never to buy a ticket to SeaWorld.
by Jennifer O'Connor
Let us introduce
you to the five orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld parks who are at the center of the lawsuit
PETA filed today maintaining that they are being held as slaves in
violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But first, please take a moment to watch this video footage,
which shows orcas swimming freely in the wild—as they are meant to do—followed
by their traumatic capture. When
they are ripped away from their families, these sensitive, intelligent animals cry
and fight for their freedom—and they are affected by their ordeal for the rest
of their lives.
In the wild, orcas
are typically always in motion, even when they are resting. They travel up to
100 miles every day and spend up to 90 percent of their time under the water's
surface—something that's nearly impossible to do at SeaWorld, where only two of
the seven tanks are as deep as an orca is long.
Orcas are among the
most social animals on the planet and naturally spend their entire lives in
close-knit communities, enjoying their own cultures and dialects. They are also
sound-oriented animals; sound is their primary sense. When we capture them and
put them in concrete boxes, we take away the two most important things in their
lives: their families and the world of sound.
Here are the tragic
stories of the five orcas who are suing SeaWorld:
Tilikum was captured from his home and
family off the coast of Iceland when he was just 2 years old and sold to
SeaWorld in 1992. Faced with calls to free him, SeaWorld urged the Icelandic government
not to return him to Icelandic waters and prevented his release.
You likely remember Tilikum
because he's the orca who last year turned his aggression and frustration on
his trainer and killed her—the third person he's killed during his years of
confinement and chronic pain.
For a year after the attack,
Tilikum was punished with total isolation from other orcas, with much of that
time spent in a concrete tank just 2 feet longer than he is.
Tilikum no longer has teeth on
his bottom jaw as a result of continually gnawing at the steel gates between
enclosures. His teeth are now broken, leaving the pulp exposed and resulting in
chronic pain. Tilikum is being driven insane by the unmitigated monotony of his
Tilikum is now the primary stud
in SeaWorld's orca-breeding mill. His sperm has been used to produce some
two-thirds of all orcas born at the theme parks. He's been trained to roll over
and present his penis to trainers who masturbate him repeatedly to collect his
sperm for breeding.
October 1978, 2-year-old baby Katina
and her 1-year-old pod mate, Kasatka,
were captured by hunters off the coast of Iceland and sold to SeaWorld San
Diego in 1979. In the fall of 1984, the two were separated when Katina was
shipped to SeaWorld Orlando, where she remains today.
Katina was forced to breed when
only 9 years old, much younger than orcas breed in nature. Since then, she's
been used as a virtual breeding machine, delivering six more calves and even
being inbred with one of her sons.
Like Tilikum, many of Katina's
teeth are missing as a result of her stress-induced chewing on the tank grids.
Kasatka has been at SeaWorld for
three decades and has been forced to perform as many as eight shows a day.
Ulises was ripped from
his ocean home in 1980, when he was 3 years old. He's been at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly two decades, where he's
suffered injuries and stress from being bullied by incompatible tank mates.
Corky was kidnapped from her family in
1969 when she was only 3. She has endured the longest captivity of any
wild-captured orca, enslaved for more than 40 years.
Corky has suffered seven forced
pregnancies (she was continuously pregnant for almost 10 years from 1977 to
1986), and none of her calves survived more than 46 days. Her last stillborn
fetus was found at the bottom of her holding tank.
She is reportedly blind in her
left eye, and her upper and lower teeth are worn and decayed.
It's time to end the slavery of orcas who are denied
everything that is natural and important to them, exploited as breeding
machines, and forced to perform for SeaWorld's profit. The public is ready, the
orcas are definitely ready, and PETA believes that the law is on our side.
Let the Blackstone Group (which owns SeaWorld) know that its
days of keeping animals in tanks for profit are numbered. Please click here to e-mail them today!
Yesterday, PETA filed a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW) for alleged violations of the Wisconsin Public Records Law. UW has refused to provide PETA with information related to the university's invasive and deadly taxpayer-funded eye-movement experiments on monkeys and cats. UW completely denied PETA access to some records, such as videos of experiments and complaints about potential violations of the law, and redacted important information from other documents that were provided.
In the experiments, holes are drilled into animals' skulls; recording chambers and restraint posts are bolted to their heads; electrodes are inserted into their brains; and stainless steel coils are implanted in their eyes. Some cats have even had their ears cut off. Monkeys and cats are typically immobilized in restraint devices in dark rooms for hours at a time and coerced into following visual or auditory targets with their eyes. At the end of the experiment, many of the animals are killed, and their brains are removed and dissected. UW continues to conduct these experiments despite their inherent cruelty, irrelevance to human health, and the fact that safe, sophisticated, and accurate human-based methods for studying brain activity related to eye movement are available and can take measurements down to the single neuron.
UW has a horrendous history of violating federal animal welfare laws, and the school's refusal to release public information makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to track patterns of animal abuse and noncompliance.
And there's plenty of reason to be concerned. It was recently revealed that last year, the university suspended Michelle Basso, a vivisector who conducts eye-movement experiments on monkeys, because of her long history of abusing and neglecting monkeys—a history that dates back to 2003. Basso repeatedly performed sloppy surgeries that caused brain damage and bleeding, ignored advice from veterinarians, and left sick and injured animals unattended and untreated. Not only did it take UW six years to take serious action, but even after all that, Basso has had her permission to experiment on animals reinstated. And who can forget UW's illegal killing of sheep in painful decompression experiments?
There are thousands of animals' skeletons in UW's closet, and we intend to shed light on them all.
Written by Logan Scherer
Today, PETA and Zoocheck Canada are officially initiating a lawsuit against the city of Edmonton, Alberta, over the cruel and apparently unlawful conditions under which Lucy, a solitary elephant at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, is forced to live.
Lucy's health issues—which include upper respiratory problems, arthritis, obesity, and chronic foot ailments—are the result of the substandard conditions at Edmonton Valley Zoo and are further aggravated by the region's frigid climate, which is inappropriate for an Asian elephant. Lucy has also been alone for the past two years, spends most of her time in a small barn, and exhibits behavior that indicates severe psychological distress. Even Dr. James Oosterhuis, the Valley Zoo's own consultant, acknowledged that the zoo's indoor facilities fail to meet the industry's minimum standards.
Consultations with experts prove that Lucy's life is at risk in Edmonton. Dr. William Keith Lindsay—a Canadian ecologist who has been actively involved in research on the ecology of elephants with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1977—is one of several experts who confirm that Lucy's living conditions are unacceptable. Dr. Lindsay states, "It is abundantly clear that Lucy would benefit greatly from the company of other elephants." Elephants live in close-knit families, and the females spend their entire lives in herds that include all their female relatives. The solitary life that Lucy lives prevents her from taking part in any of the social behaviors that are necessary for maintaining an elephant's health.
Dr. Joyce Poole, an elephant biologist and ethologist who has spent more than 30 years studying elephant social behavior and communication states, "Lucy has spent much of her life standing on concrete in a small barn and doing very little of what an elephant needs [to] do to maintain good physical health and mental well being. The consequence is that she is a young elephant in an old body. This causes her real privation and suffering."
We won't rest until we see Lucy moved to a sanctuary. As we take the city to court, we urge you to take action to help Lucy find the freedom she deserves and to share this information with everyone you know. Keep checking back here for more updates.
Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the promised release of Robert—the tabby who was purchased by the University of Utah (the U) for $15 from the Davis County Animal Shelter and used in a cruel experiment in which his skull was cut open and electrodes were implanted in his brain. Robert has been adopted into a new home, but the majority of the 105 dogs and cats who were purchased from Davis County Animal Control last year remain caged in the U's labs and won't be given the same chance.
In the two months since we first released footage of our undercover investigation inside the U, PETA has repeatedly attempted to obtain documents related to the purchase of animals like Robert, but county officials have failed to cooperate, in what appears to be a violation of the state's Government Records Access and Management Act. So this morning, PETA filed a lawsuit against the county demanding access to these documents, which will shed more light on Davis County's betrayal of both animals and community members who are unaware that the beloved companions they surrender may be mutilated and killed in laboratories.
Today, PETA is also launching a new video called "Betrayal of Trust," which reveals the plight of some of the dogs and cats whom the U purchased from local animal shelters for its cruel and deadly experiments. The video contains footage from inside the Davis County Animal Shelter and the U's animal laboratories, including a clip of Lady, a friendly German shepherd whom the U purchased from the shelter for $20. Experimenters cut open her neck and implanted a medical device for a heart experiment. At the end of the experiment, Lady will be killed and "go to the dump," as one vet tech in our new video explains.
PETA's working overtime to ensure that shelter animals will no longer be betrayed by Davis County and the University of Utah. Please take just a few moments to help by contacting the school and demanding an end to this shameful practice.
Written by Logan Scherer
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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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.