Anti-SeaWorld Ad Goes Up at San Diego Airport After Legal Fight

Thursday, 22 May 2014 08:50 AM

By Michael Mullins

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An anti-SeaWorld ad is now on display at the San Diego International Airport, after animal rights activists and the ACLU sued the transportation hub and its advertising agency to allow the ad to be posted.

The ad features San Diego-born actress Kathy Najimy, of "Hocus Pocus" and "Sister Act" fame, welcoming travelers to her hometown while saying, "If you love animals like I do, please avoid SeaWorld."


PETA, which produced the ad, sued the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority after its advertising vendor, JCDecaux, chose not to accept $17,500 for the ad, UT San Diego reported.

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The ad agency eventually settled and reportedly agreed to allow the ad to run for one month at the airport's Lindbergh Field in Terminal 2.

On its website, PETA wrote it decided to produce the ad "in the interest of making sure that travelers also get to hear the truth about SeaWorld’s systematic abuse of animals," adding "The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and its advertising vendor JCDecaux North America, Inc., have [for years] raked in the money by letting SeaWorld plaster the airport in propaganda."

According to the animal rights group, in addition to permitting the ad, the ad agency will also pay the legal fees accrued by PETA and the ACLU, which amounted to just over $31,000.

In response to the ad, SeaWorld released a statement to UT San Diego that read: "PETA is an extremist organization and this ad demonstrates that, once again, they are more interested in publicity stunts than helping animals."

"The truth is that our animals at SeaWorld are healthy and happy," SeaWorld's statement continues. "We are dedicated to their well-being. There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld, and the real advocates for animals are our trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff and veterinarians."

SeaWorld has come under increasing criticism since last October's release of the CNN documentary "Blackfish," which highlights the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity and alleges the aquatic theme park has mistreated orcas in their care.

Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who for years took her children to San Diego's Sea World, the film focused on the killer whale Tilikum, a bull orca captured off Ice Land's coast in the early 1980s that now lives in captivity at Florida's SeaWorld Orlando.

Between 1991 and 1999, Tilikum was involved in the deaths of three individuals, two of whom were trainers. Despite this, Tilikum remains an attraction at SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld dismissed the documentary, which it called "dishonest."

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