SeaWorld Denies Shareholders Vote on Whale Sanctuary

Thumbnail image for tilikum.jpg
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, apparently owns 80 shares in SeaWorld Entertainment, which it bought in April of last year.

And since PETA is a shareholder, it came up with an idea to create a coastal retirement sanctuary for SeaWorld's killer whales.

But, as things go in this fight, SeaWorld says PETA doesn't have the authority to submit such resolutions to other shareholders, even if it has the required shares to speak at annual meetings.

See also: Blackfish Filmmakers Challenge SeaWorld to Debate

SeaWorld officials say PETA needs to hold its shareholder stock for at least a year before making such a proposal, per SEC regulations.

"We owe it to our shareholders to conduct our annual proxy process in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations, our own by-laws and applicable law," a statement released by the park said.

Meanwhile, PETA has sent a letter to the SEC asking it to deny SeaWorld's attempts at not allowing the animal rights group from being heard, or their resolution being brought to a vote.

PETA contends that SeaWorld is filing its proxy process to the SEC two days before the anniversary of when the group purchased its shares. This would make it tough for PETA to have owned stock for the required year.

Oh that sneaky SeaWorld.

PETA's efforts are part of the ongoing battle between animal rights activists and SeaWorld since the documentary Blackfish exposed the park for mistreating killer whales.

Since the documentary's popularity has soared, numerous musical acts have canceled on the park's annual music festival. And the park itself has received backlash from the public.

But SeaWorld has been putting just as much effort into fighting back.

In December, SeaWorld told the media that the Blackfish protests were nothing but "a coordinated campaign of digital harassment and does not in any sense represent the opinions of the American public."

SeaWorld also placed a full-page ad in major newspapers and launched a "The Truth About Blackfish" page on its website, where it combats the allegations made by the film with bullet points.

The documentary, which features several former SeaWorld trainers, exposes the park's inhumane practices with orcas. It chronicles how the park gets their killer whales, by separating mothers from calves. The film also shows how the whales are kept in small, cramped tanks and how at least one whale, a bull orca named Tilikum, was abused by other orcas while in the tanks. Tilikum eventually ended up killing three people over the years, including trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. According to the film, he is now kept in isolation at SeaWorld.

It's for whales like Tilikum and others that PETA is hoping to have a sanctuary built, so that the animals can spend the rest of their lives in open waters, where they can live in peace and safety.

SeaWorld -- the supposed bastion of whale protection, sanctuary, and safety -- won't even allow its shareholders to vote on such a place.

Meanwhile, the park openly boasted several weeks ago of hitting record earnings.

But this isn't about that. This is about SEC regulations! Yup. That's it. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.

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