At work today, I read this article about the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are accusing Sea World of violating rights of captive orcas under the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution.
My initial reaction was “SCRATCH THAT!!! Killer whales and the 13th Amendment? I don’t get it!” The lawsuit is seeking a court order that mandates Sea World to release the whales to a “suitable habitat.” Yes, I do believe that animals should be in suitable habitats. However, the 13th Amendment???
Let’s take a look at what the 13th Amendment says. Section 1 states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Section 2 states “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” (Thank you Cornell University Law School) This Amendment was ratified in 1865, during the times where slavery was abolished after the ending of the Civil War. This threw me for a loop.
I honestly don’t know whether or not to be offended or in awe that they are using the 13th Amendment to sue Sea World. Although I do see this guy’s quote, “The 13th Amendment abolished the abhorrent, despicable practice of the slavery of human beings […] PETA is demeaning the integrity and humanity of people who were owned as slaves. That is outrageous.” I also believe that it is important for researchers to work with animals to learn how they interact with their environment, what’s best for them to continue their species on this planet because there are way too many extinct or endangered species out there. I honestly think PETA is using the 13th Amendment to get people to pay attention to the maltreatment of animals in Sea World and in other places where they keep animals (zoos, aquariums, etc.). They did a damn good job because I am curious about how this lawsuit will end.
Here is the article just in case you want to read it for yourself: