PETA Sues Sea World For “Enslaving” Whales

I believe this fits under the very definition of frivolous lawsuit:

A federal court is being asked to grant constitutional rights to five killer whales who perform at marine parks — an unprecedented and perhaps quixotic legal action that is nonetheless likely to stoke an ongoing, intense debate at America’s law schools over expansion of animal rights.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld parks of keeping five star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery. SeaWorld depicted the suit as baseless.

The chances of the suit succeeding are slim, according to legal experts not involved in the case; any judge who hews to the original intent of the authors of the amendment is unlikely to find that they wanted to protect animals. But PETA relishes engaging in the court of public opinion, as evidenced by its provocative anti-fur and pro-vegan campaigns.

The suit, which PETA says it will file Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, hinges on the fact that the 13th Amendment, while prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, does not specify that only humans can be victims.


The plaintiffs are the five orcas, Tilikum and Katina based at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., and Corky, Kasatka and Ulises at SeaWorld San Diego. Tilikum, a six-ton male, made national news in February 2010 when he grabbed a trainer at the close of a performance and dragged her underwater until she drowned.

Lord only know what Tilikum will do when the lawyers tell he has no case.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. I would love to know how PETA claims the organization, and not the whales, would have standing to bring the case.

  2. Ernieyeball says:

    I suspect one reason 6 Ton Tilly was not prosecuted in the unfortunate death of the trainer was that the whale lacks the ability to form intent.
    Are we to believe that PETA will demonstrate that the orcas are somehow aware of their captivity and that they would prefer to be “free”?

  3. sam says:

    I believe this fits under the very definition of frivolous flipperless lawsuit:


  4. Tsar Nicholas says:


  5. george says:



  6. Racehorse says:

    Uh oh! I hope our little dog doesn’t hear about this – we’ll be in trouble!

  7. Franklin says:

    @Racehorse: Heck you probably let the dog out of the house sometimes. We don’t even let our cat slaves do that!

  8. Sullecram says:

    STUPID….STUPID…STUPID. Look out ladies and gents, next they will have the whales and all other animals on tape speaking about how they have been held captive against their will. Let’s pick a real battle like saving animals that actually need saving. If this keeps up, the zoos will be next. I wonder if any of those people have pets?