Kelly Slater confronts SeaWorld's practices

June 9, 2015 | Environment
Marine parks: a prision for animals | Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Kelly Slater has joined the protests against marine park chain SeaWorld.

The 11-time world surfing champion wanted to confront the theme park group during its online annual meeting by submitting a question on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which owns stock in the company.

Slater's goal was to persuade other stakeholders to introduce policy changes, and demand the release of SeaWorld's orcas, who have been used by the company for more than 40 years.

The motto reads, "Animals are not ours to use for entertainment." Unfortunately, the pro surfer and PETA were prevented from submitting the question. But the issue will not stop the battle against SeaWorld.

"In sea pens, orcas could swim in ocean water instead of in chemically treated waste water, hear and answer the calls of their extended families, and begin to live truly as orcas in a protected area of the ocean," underlined Jared Goodman, director of Animal Law at PETA.

"PETA will push SeaWorld to make this change, and we're exploring our legal options over SeaWorld's lock-out of dissenting voices who speak for the animals they hold prisoner."

The American animal rights organization says that, at least 36 orcas have died at SeaWorld and not one of them from old age. The marine park is under heavy pressure to change its practices.

In 2014, SeaWorld was considered one of the worst companies in America by Consumerist. "Blackfish," the film about captive killer whale Tilikum, has also had impact on SeaWorld's stock price.

Here's what Kelly Slater had to say to SeaWorld:

My name is Kelly Slater, and I'm here on behalf of PETA. The veil has been lifted on SeaWorld. All the ads in the world won't change what the public now knows to be true: that the company imprisons highly intelligent, emotionally complex, social animals in tiny, barren concrete tanks, which leads to aggression and disease.

SeaWorld is experiencing declining attendance and revenue, and dozens of companies, including Southwest Airlines, Panama Jack, and Mattel, have recently ended partnerships with SeaWorld.

As a professional surfer, I'm lucky and privileged to be able to spend the majority of my time in the ocean - it's the place where I feel most at home, and thus, I feel an obligation to protect that which I have a voice in influencing.

Please, tell us, when will SeaWorld allow the animals it holds captive to return to their home - the ocean - by retiring them to a seaside sanctuary? And wouldn't this at least be viewed, if nothing else, as a public relations win for you?

By righting the wrongs you have committed in the name of corporate profit for so many years, you may actually be able to recoup some of the respect that has been lost in the eyes of the public and work toward an end to the problem of animal suffering.

Thank you.