PETA is planning to protest SeaWorld's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float, calling the aquatic theme park "nothing more than a cruel prison for animals."
The protest, which organizers say will involve hundreds of animal rights activists spread along the parade route next Thursday, comes just days after parade organizers removed famous rock guitarist Joan Jett from the South Dakota state float
due to her anti-meat stance and protests from the state's farming and ranching community
In an interview with WCBS 880 earlier in the week, PETA’s
Campaign Department Manager Lindsey Wright claimed the animal rights organization had received more than 80,000 emails from people showing their support for the organization's stance against the SeaWorld float. The emails have since been forwarded onto parade organizers.
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"They remove [orcas] forcibly and violently from their pods, or their families, stick them in a cement tank where all they have to do is chew on the cement bars, breaking their own teeth and banging their heads into the side of the enclosure," Wright told WCBS 880. "SeaWorld is nothing more than a cruel prison for animals. . . So a float that celebrates that cruelty to animals is really totally out of place at this family-friendly event."
Having historically managed to evade controversial political issues, Macy's said it has no plans to cancel the SeaWorld float in a statement released earlier this week, saying, "the parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate or other forms of advocacy."
On Tuesday, parade executive producer Amy Kule told The Associated Press
that "there is no controversy," adding, "our goal is to entertain and that is [SeaWorld's] goal as well."
Responding to PETA's planned protests, SeaWorld said the criticisms had "absolutely no basis" and that "the men and women who care for these animals at SeaWorld are dedicated in every respect to their health and well-being," the AP reported.
SeaWorld has come under increasing criticism in recent weeks due to the October release of the documentary "Blackfish," which highlight the dangers of keeping killer whales
in captivity and alleges the aquatic theme park has mistreated orcas in their care.
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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 reportedly remains an attraction at SeaWorld Orlando.
SeaWorld claimed the documentary is "dishonest."
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