PETA Sues SeaWorld for Whale 'Slaves'
Says their treatment violates 13th amendment
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 26, 2011 10:17 AM CDT
In this Monday, March 7, 2011 photo, killer whale Tilikum, right, watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(Newser) – Never known for half-measures, PETA is suing SeaWorld—for violating the 13th Amendment. You know, the one that outlawed slavery. In a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of killer whales Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises, the animal rights group contends that SeaWorld keeps its orcas in conditions that violate their constitutional rights. “By any definition, these orcas are slaves—kidnapped from their homes, kept confined, denied everything that's natural to them, and forced to perform tricks for SeaWorld's profit,” says PETA’s general counsel.

Experts don’t expect the case to go far, even though the amendment doesn't specify a ban on human slaves. But the suit is likely to drive a new conversation about whether animals—currently seen as property under the law—are entitled to human rights, the AP notes. The legal team has worked on the case for 18 months, but the court will likely “find that the plaintiffs do not have standing to file the lawsuit at all,” says a law professor. Click through for more expert opinions on the PETA suit.