February 11, 2012
"Slave" ... an orca performing at Sea World. Photo: Reuters
A federal judge has dismissed the bid of animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to free the performing orcas of the Seaworld amusement park.
The ruling was made late on Wednesday in a San Diego court. US District Judge Jeffrey Miller ruled that the five whales could not be protected under the 13th Amendment to the US constitution, which bans slavery, because the 1865 measure applies only to humans.
"As 'slavery' and 'involuntary servitude' are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the 13th Amendment as applying to non-humans," Judge Miller wrote in his ruling.
PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr had argued earlier in the week that invoking slavery ban to free the orcas was "the next frontier of civil rights".
Reacting to the judgement on Thursday, PETA said that the case was "historic" and represented "one more step toward the inevitable day when all animals will be free from enslavement for human entertainment."