FIVE killer whales have been named as claimants in a lawsuit – arguing that they should be released over slavery at a marine park. A US judge is considering a complaint by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) against SeaWorld.
The charity is arguing the animals deserve the same constitutional protection from slavery as humans.
Peta filed a complaint that the park is violating the 13th Amendment by keeping orcas in captivity.
But District Judge Jeffrey Miller pointed out that the legal document – which was used to abolish serfdom in the 19th century – did not cover animals.
He also agreed with SeaWorld's claim that continuing the case could lead to a rash of similar suits on behalf of working animals, such as police sniffer dogs.
Lawsuit ... Jeffrey Kerr claims they are subjected to slavery
Jeffrey Kerr, for Peta, said: "Tilikum, Katina, Kasatka, Ulises and Corky have been captive and subjected to treatment that we feel is slavery."
He said the killer whales are treated like slaves by being forced to live in tanks and perform daily.
Meanwhile, Theodore Shaw accused the charity of "ignoring 125 years of case law applying the 13th amendment and ignoring common sense."
Three of the "plaintiffs" listed in the suit are kept in San Diego, California, while the other two are at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.