LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An animal rights activist group sought Wednesday to extend the same constitutional rights provided in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to captive whales.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced its plans to file a lawsuit on grounds that performers such as SeaWorld’s Shamu are essentially slaves.
The first-of-its-kind lawsuit names the five orcas as plaintiffs and demands their release.
“All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,” said Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president. “They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks.”
“By any definition, these orcas are slaves,” added General Counsel Jeff Kerr.
SeaWorld said the lawsuit would be a “baseless” publicity stunt and offensive to those the amendment was written to protect.
“SeaWorld has been informed that it is the target of an animal activist lawsuit challenging the public right to enjoy and learn more about marine mammals,” officials with the marine park stated.
“It is not appropriate to comment on a suit that has not yet been filed and that we have not seen, but this effort to extend the 13th Amendment’s solemn protections beyond human beings is baseless and in many ways offensive,” the statement added.