As “Blackfish” continues to reach a wider and wider audience, the bad news just keeps on coming for SeaWorld. Their stocks have begun to drop and even their chairman has sold off more than $1 million worth of his shares, videos of injured and terrified animals like this dolphin at SeaWorld’s parks have sparked outrage, and celebrities are publicly blasting the company.
PETA is one of several organizations which have waged long campaigns against SeaWorld for its treatment of animals. Recently, the animal rights organization has opposed the inclusion of a SeaWorld float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and held protests marking the 30th anniversary of orca Tilikum’s capture from the wild.
Now, PETA has filed a formal complaint calling for Florida State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton to investigate SeaWorld and press felony animal cruelty charges. PETA writes in their press release, “Florida law prohibits intentionally causing excessive or repeated unnecessary suffering—and SeaWorld knowingly subjects Tilikum to the constant stress, agitation, conflict, and injury inherent in keeping a far-ranging, highly social mammal in captivity.”
Tilikum was captured from the ocean and his pod in November of 1983 and was captive at SeaLand of the Pacific before being transported to SeaWorld. His story is told in and is much of the focus of “Blackfish.”
PETA points out that orca researchers have found captivity to be harmful to orcas, who swim up to 100 miles a day in the ocean and work together with their pods to hunt for food. In captivity, orcas often exhibit stress behaviors and die long before their average lifespan in the wild.
“Tilikum’s sad, decades-long story of deprivation and aggression reveals what happens when sensitive, intelligent marine mammals are locked up in SeaWorld’s concrete tanks. The state attorney has a duty to enforce Florida’s laws—and that includes the anti-cruelty statute that PETA believes SeaWorld flagrantly disregards,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders.
SeaWorld also heads to court in Washington, D.C. for oral arguments tomorrow, attempting to have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) citations overturned. After the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, OSHA ruled that SeaWorld endangered employees by allowing them to perform in the water with captive orcas.