Grandma Sues SeaWorld Over Killer Whales

Joyce Kuhl sues for at least $2B over treatment of orcas
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2015 2:50 PM CDT
Grandma Sues SeaWorld Over Killer Whales
In a March 7, 2011 photo, Kelly Flaherty Clark, right, director of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando, works with a killer whale in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

A South Carolina grandmother is suing SeaWorld in Florida for at least $2 billion over its alleged mistreatment of killer whales—the latest salvo in a series of attacks against the entertainment company, the Orlando Sentinel reports via the Guardian. In the new class-action suit, Joyce Kuhl is demanding her money back for a 2013 visit to SeaWorld in Orlando. She also wants all other visitors reimbursed over the past four years, Florida's statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit. She alleges that the killer whales, or orcas, are drugged and kept in confining tanks that amount to "chemical bathtubs." Filed in federal court Thursday by a Gainesville-based attorney, her suit says those tubs give the intelligent mammals sunburn and kill them at an early age.

What's more, the orcas are sometimes deprived of food, forced into incestuous inbreeding, and stored in ways that make them angry and violent, the suit says. Her attorney says Kuhl is "an ordinary animal lover" who learned of the confinement after her visit: "She would not have purchased her ticket had she known then what she subsequently found out," he says. SeaWorld responded by saying it is committed to "the health and well-being" of its animals, and considered the suit a likely "attempt by animal right extremists to use the courts to advance an anti-zoo agenda." Indeed, Kuhl is not alone: A similar lawsuit was filed in California last month, the Sentinel reports, and alleged mistreatment of SeaWorld whales was detailed in the CNN documentary Blackfish. (Read about a lawmaker's attempt to ban SeaWorld's orca shows.)

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