A federal judge in San Diego has thrown out an animal rights group’s lawsuit accusing SeaWorld of enslaving captive killer whales, ruling orcas had no standing to seek the same constitutional rights as people.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused the aquatic theme park chain of violating the rights of whales under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery in the U.S.
The lawsuit listed five performing orcas at SeaWorld’s parks in California and Florida — Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises — as plaintiffs.
“The only reasonable interpretation of the 13th Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas,” U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller wrote. “Both historic and contemporary sources reveal that the term ‘slavery’ and ‘involuntary servitude’ refer only to persons.”
Thomson Reuters 2012