Washington State Considers Criminalizing Holding Whales and Dolphins in Aquariums
Strategy Follows PETA's Failed Litigation Campaign to Free Whales from "Bondage"
New York, NY / Washington, D.C. - Washington state Senator Kevin Ranker introduced a bill last week to make it a crime, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $100,000 fine, to hold whales, dolphins or porpoises, known as cetaceans, in aquariums.
The following is a statement by Jeff Stier, head of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Risk Analysis Division:
Radical animal activists don't believe that humans should own animals or keep them in captivity, even for public educational purposes, even in tremendously large habitats.
When SeaWorld announced last year that it would double the size of its orca tanks to 10 million gallons, PETA attorney Jared Goodman issued a statement opposing the move, saying "A bigger prison is still a prison." To Mr. Goodman and his anti-aquarium allies, all orcas, even those bred in captivity, should be "reunited" with their families in the open ocean.
PETA's 2015 legislative approach, radical as it is, is certainly gaining more traction than its 2011 litigation strategy. Then, PETA filed suit in federal court in Southern California seeking to declare that SeaWorld's whales are being held in slavery in violation of the 13th Amendment. The failed litigation sought a court-ordered release of the whales "from bondage." CNN reported that the suit sought "a permanent order against holding them in slavery, as well as appointment of a legal guardian to carry out the transfer of the whales to a suitable habitat."
Much of the impetus for the Washington state legislation under consideration, and similar bans that passed last year in New York state and San Francisco, was the advocacy film "Blackfish," which aired nearly thirty times on CNN. CNN's director of public relations, Jennifer Dargan, conceded to me that the film was "acquired" by the news organization and did not adhere to any of CNN's journalistic standards.
Activists have recently blamed Walmart for obesity, SeaWorld for animal suffering and Uber for high transportation costs. The truth is, those who oppose the private sector economy and consumer choice will find villains regardless of the facts.
Jeffrey Ventre, who was fired from his job as a whale trainer at SeaWorld and has since enjoyed the limelight from his appearance in "Blackfish," crowed that the recent legislation is the "proverbial writing on the wall" for an end to cetaceans in aquariums.
Ultimately, the radical animal activist agenda goes well beyond ending human interaction with animals outside of the wild – and zoos and aquariums as we know them. Some of these activists, who hold that animals aren't property to be owned by humans, argue that we shouldn't be allowed to own pets.
As one commenter on Twitter put it, "I see a Pixar's 'WALL-E'-type world looming in the near future."
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