The day is nearing when the government will, for the first time, consider animal rights. As most of us know, Peta sued Seaworld for a violation of the 13th ammendment. That is they are suing SeaWorld on grounds of slavery. After several months of researching the issue, Peta determined that they had a case. They are suing on behalf of Seaworld’s animals, and now the
organization, along with orca experts, former SeaWorld trainers, and 5 killer whales prepare for a historical court case. February 6, 2012.
For some of you, whether you are pro-captivity, anti-captivity or otherwise, this may scream “publicity stunt.” Whether or not this is true, the case does bring up a few good questions and points that we all should consider. For instance: can cetaceans be classified as persons? The organization essentially says that Seaworld is keeping killer whales as slaves. Peta states:
“The suit is based on the plain text of the 13th Amendment, which prohibits the condition of slavery without reference to ‘person’ or any particular class of victim.”
In this case, dolphins would be classified as non- human persons. What is a non- human person? Defining the word “person” is difficult enough, but people throughout time seem to agree that living “persons” have, or have the capability of: awareness, personality, emotions, and compassion or morality. So, essentially any being with traits of an advanced consciousness. Dolphins and whales exhibit all of these characteristics and more. Persons aren’t always humans, and aren’t always living beings. Corporations are also considered “people” under law.
But Peta and other organizations aren’t the only ones who believe that dolphins are “persons,” and they’re not just making things up. Because cetaceans have such large brains and highly advanced mental functions, many scientists and activists argue that these animals should be granted rights as “persons.” These animals are emotional, sentient beings who recognize themselves as individuals and can make their own choices which means that the orca’s status as a person, is a matter of facts and biology – not personal opinion.
Does the awareness of choice, and the ability to decide give one the right to freedom of those decisions? Or is it okay to force that creature to do your bidding against their will?
“Dolphins and whales are self aware creatures. They routinely make choices and decisions regarding the details of their life. They are entitled to freedom of choice.”- Ric O’ Barry
Now that we know that cetaceans are persons…can we rightfully define their condition as “slavery”? Captive whales live in captivity which is why the word “captive” is used!
“cap·tiv·i·ty/kapˈtivitē/ noun: the state of being imprisoned or confined. Synonymous with: imprisonment. Confinement. Slavery.”
At Seaworld the whales are kept as captives who work for their food, and for the monetary gain of the ones who imprison them. Cetaceans are persons,
|a slave is: “A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.”|
Another important thing to note is that amongst a slew of orca whale experts, 2 former Seaworld trainers are joining Peta in this lawsuit, Samantha Berg and Carol Ray. The fact that former Seaworld trainers are on board says a lot. After all, these people know first hand the “inside story” behind Seaworld, their training methods, the animal’s welfare, etc. and they are speaking against it. This is certainly drawing attention to Seaworld, and connecting the dots from slavery to marine park. I have a feeling that if Peta loses this case, they will still have reached their goal.
Let me know what you guys think of this issue by leaving a comment below.