NBC San Diego: The animal rights group PETA filed their official complaint against SeaWorld Inc. early Wednesday morning for allegedly violating the thirteenth amendment rights of orca whales.
The official complaint submitted to the US District Court for Southern California lists five SeaWorld orcas as collective plaintiffs in the case, according to the complaint. Three of those whales live in the San Diego Seaworld park. The other two live in the Orlando location.
The thirteenth amendment abolished slavery in 1865.
PETA alleges that the two SeaWorld locations restrained and kept the whales in “constant involuntary physical confinement,” with no means to escape. The complaint also accuses SeaWorld of depriving the whales of “their ability to live in a manner of their choosing,” and for “intentionally subjugating” the whales’ “wills, desires, and/or natural drives and needs of [SeaWorld Inc.’s] own will and whims.”
A spokesperson for SeaWorld Inc. stated to the Associated Press that the claims were “baseless and offensive.” The statement added that any performances are intended to educate the public and promote conservation of marine animals.
PETA’s complaint lists a number of qualities that orca whales possess, such as their problem-solving abilities and understanding of cooperative networks. The orcas are capable of displaying “physiological and behavioral indicators of stress and trauma,” the complaint reads, and can communicate the stress of living in captivity.
“[SeaWorld’s] confinement of [the orcas] suppresses [the orcas’] cultural traditions and deprives them of the ability to make conscious choices and of the environmental enrichment.”
Under current law, animals are still considered property, according to the Associated Press.