Last year, a truck commissioned by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was driving around San Diego to raise awareness about the abuse that takes place at SeaWorld.
The truck showed a very well-crafted painting that creates an optical illusion, giving the appearance that there is an Orca trapped in the back of the truck.
“Collapsed Fins. Broken Teeth. Tiny Cell. Prisoner of SeaWorld. Don’t Go!” a caption on the truck reads.
According to PETA:
“In the wild, orcas travel as far as 140 miles every day with their family pods. But at SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, they swim listlessly in circles in chemical-filled water inside barren tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. Many have severely damaged teeth, likely caused by gnawing on the metal bars and concrete corners of the tanks out of stress. More than 40 orcas have died on SeaWorld’s watch, from causes such as severe trauma, intestinal gangrene, and chronic cardiovascular failure—and not one has reached the maximum life expectancy of the species in nature.”
This is actually not the first time that PETA has used trucks like this to raise awareness. Last year, PETA had two similar trucks circling SeaWorld Orlando and the Miami Seaquarium.
For the past few years, SeaWorld has been under heavy scrutiny, due to criticism from animal rights activist who say that they mistreat the whales and dolphins that they have in captivity. The theme park has been at the center of controversy since the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish”, which exposed the inhumane treatment of its animals.
The company announced in 2015 that they have seen an 84% decrease in sales as “continued brand challenges” steer customers away from the park, and things have only gotten worse for the brand. Since the release of the film, it was reported that the company lost more than half of its market value, and was forced to fire many leading executives.
Following the release of Blackfish, it was shown that SeaWorld’s income dropped from $37.4 million $5.8 million in just two years, and attendance dropped by more than 100,000 tickets.
SeaWorld contends that their parks are more like veterinary clinics than zoos, because according to the company, they nurse sick animals back to health and keep them in captivity because they would not be able to survive on their own. However, these claims are mostly rejected by animal rights activists.
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Jared Goodman, director of animal law for PETA told the Guardian that “SeaWorld is in the midst of a spying scandal, animals are dying in its tanks, and tens of thousands of people have opposed its bid to build a new orca prison, so it should come as no surprise that SeaWorld’s quarterly earnings have plummeted yet again in the second quarter. Families just don’t want to buy tickets to see orcas going insane inside tiny tanks, and SeaWorld’s profits, like the orcas, won’t recover until the abusement park empties its tanks and builds coastal sanctuaries.”
Due to all of the activism that has taken place over the past several years, SeaWorld is no longer allowed to breed Orcas at their California locations. The California Coastal Commission banned captive whale breeding in 2015, in the wake of the Blackfish documentary.