A new class action lawsuit has been filed against SeaWorld in Florida which accuses the marine park of keeping its killer whales drugged and suffering from sunburn in shallow pools.
Joyce Kuhl of south Carolina is suing SeaWorld in Orlando following a visit in 2013, demanding reimbursement for a $97 ticket and for millions of other visitors via a federal class action lawsuit that could, if successful, cost the park billions of dollars.
Kuhl has accused SeaWorld of Florida and its sister parks of a "campaign of misinformation" to contain alleged orca mistreatment and poor conditions, and said she wouldn't have bought a ticket had she known the "true facts".
According to the Orlando Sentinel, she claimed the company was spinning an illusion which "masks the ugly truth about the unhealthy and despairing lives of these whales".
The lawsuit alleges SeaWorld is making millions of dollars in profit via "false, misleading and deceptive business practices".
It also details claims of a chlorine solution "many times stronger than household bleach" and other chemicals dissolved in the water where the whales are confined after being caught or bred.
It accuses SeaWorld of keeping orcas in holding pools as shallow as 8ft where they suffer from sunburn and alleges that employees have to disguise the injuries by painting black zinc oxide onto the mammals.
Kuhl's lawsuit contends out that in the wild orcas typically live between 30 and 50 years, alleging that at SeaWorld most orcas die in their teens or early 20s.
Where not to visit if you love animals
Where not to visit if you love animals
1/9 Monkey shows
Chimpanzees are forced to perform demeaning tricks on leashes and are often subject to cruel training techniques. Animals who are confined to small, barren enclosures and forced to perform unsurprisingly show symptoms of stress and depression. Chimpanzees have been documented rocking back and forth, sucking their lips, salivating and swaying against enclosure perimeters in distress.
2/9 Swimming with dolphins
Some marine parks use bottlenose dolphins in performances and offer visitors the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Unfortunately, people are often unaware that these animals are captured in the wild and torn from their families or traded between different parks around the world.
3/9 Tiger shows
Tigers are forced to live in an unnatural and barren environment and have to endure interactions with a constant stream of tourists. Since tigers never lose their wild instincts, across the world they are reportedly drugged, mutilated and restrained in order to make them “safe” for the public. However, every year, incidents of tiger maulings are reported at this type of tourist attraction.
4/9 Donkey rides
Sunning on the beach is great for humans – we can take a quick dip or catch a bite to eat when we get too hot or hungry. But it's pure hell for donkeys who are confined to the beach and forced to cart children around on the hot sand. Some donkey-ride operators at beach resorts in the UK even keep the animals chained together at all times.
5/9 Marine parks
Some parks confine orcas to concrete tanks and force them to perform meaningless tricks for food - many die in captivity. Orcas are highly intelligent and social mammals who may suffer immensely, both physically and mentally, when they're held in captivity.
6/9 Canned hunting
Lions are confined to fenced areas so that they can easily be cornered, with no chance of escape. Most of them will have been bred in captivity and then taken from their mothers to be hand-reared by the cub-petting industry. When they get too big, they may be drugged before they are released into a "hunting" enclosure. Because these animals are usually kept in fenced enclosures (ranging in size from just a few square yards to thousands of acres), they never stand a chance of surviving.
7/9 Running of the Bulls
Every year, tourists travel to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls. The bulls who are forced to slip and slide down the town's narrow cobblestone streets are chased straight into the bullring. They are then taunted, stabbed repeatedly and finally killed by the matador in front of a jeering crowd. The majority of Spaniards reject bullfighting, but tourists are keeping the cruel industry on its last legs.
8/9 Horse-drawn carriages
City streets are no place for horses. The animals toil in all weather extremes, suffering from respiratory distress from breathing in exhaust fumes as well as numerous hoof, leg and back problems from walking on pavement all day long. As easily spooked prey animals, horses subjected to the loud noises and unexpected sounds of city streets are likely to be involved in accidents, even deadly ones.
The zoo community regards the animals it keeps as commodities, and animals are regularly bought, sold, borrowed and traded without any regard for established relationships. Zoos breed animals because the presence of babies draws visitors and boosts revenue, yet often, there's nowhere to put the offspring as they grow, and they are killed, as we recently saw with Marius the giraffe in Denmark. Some zoos have introduced evening events with loud music and alcohol which disrupt the incarcerated animals even further.
This is the second time SeaWorld has been sued in less than three weeks after a similar lawsuit was filed in California in March which alleged the company was misleading the public by claiming the captive orcas were happy.
SeaWorld said the California lawsuit was "clearly a publicity stunt intended to generate more news coverage" of a recently-published book about the park by John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld Trainer.
"There is no higher priority for SeaWorld than the health and well-being of its animals," the statement insisted.
SeaWorld has suffered a storm of criticism from the public, regulators and animal welfare campaigners since one of its trainers was killed by a male orca in 2010.
A subsequent 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which alleged cases of chronic mistreatment of whales and attracted additional scrutiny, was then followed by the resignation of SeaWorld’s chief executive Jim Atchinson.
In February, SeaWorld Entertainment reported a 2.7 per cent drop in revenue in its fourth quarter, below Wall Street expectations, which equated to over a quarter of a billion dollars.
For the full year, revenue dropped from $1,460.3 million in 2013 to $1,337.8 million in 2014.
Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld’s chief spokesman, told the Times: “The lawsuit filed [yesterday] appears to be an attempt by animal [rights] extremists to use the courts to advance an anti-zoo agenda.
“The suit is baseless, filled with inaccuracies, and SeaWorld intends to defend itself against these inaccurate claims.”
He added that SeaWorld's parks are "regularly inspected" by the US government and "two professional zoological associations".Reuse content