Free Willy? U.S. District Court says “No!”

Juliet Luty, assistant editor

On Feb. 8, the U.S. District Court addressed a lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), three marine-mammal experts and two former orca trainers against SeaWorld San Diego. The animal activists stated that it is against the orca’s constitutional rights to be enslaved in the park and forced to perform for the crowds which begs the question, can animals really be considered slaves?

PETA, the experts and the trainers claim that, under the 13th amendment, slavery and involuntary servitude are illegal and find this law applicable to Seaworld’s orcas . They are fighting for the rights of these animals; however, they may be going about it in a questionable way.

“PETA is a little radical at times and it kind of turns people off to the organization –people think PETA is a bunch of crazy animal freaks,” sophomore and PETA member Ally Mason said.

While PETA did take a very questionable approach by claiming enslavement of the orcas, their real mission was to help the animals and have them released into their natural habitats.

“It seems kind of ridiculous, but they aren’t meant to be in cages. They aren’t blatantly being treated as slaves but I’d rather they didn’t keep them in enclosures,” Mason said.

In the end, the lawsuit was dismissed by a judge who stated that the 13th amendment only applies to people and not the captive whales or any animals for that matter. Although PETA did not get to fight for the five orcas, they did bring attention to their cause.

“I don’t think the lawsuit was very productive. There was a lot of negative publicity for SeaWorld and for PETA. So, it wasn’t really worth it and they should have done something more practical,” Mason said.

While the attention may be seen as negative, PETA has said that they will continue to fight for the rights of these animals and all other animals to end their enslavement.