Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time


SeaWorld’s Attempt to Silence “Radical” Professor Backfires

March 12, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Those who exploit animals for profit – and their publicists – routinely describe animal rights activists as extremists, radicals and terrorists in an effort to discredit, marginalize and disempower them. Through campaign contributions, they also recruit elected officials, who have the public’s ear, to use the same incendiary language. Sadly, it’s an approach that works, with members of the public often embracing those terms when referring to animal rights activists.

Those who exploit animals for profit often characterize activists as "extremists" to discredit them

Exploiters often characterize activists as “extremists” to discredit them

But what happens when an exploitive company uses this tactic to discredit and silence an authority figure, who is not perceived by the public to be a “radical extremist?”

In November, The American Cetacean Society invited Dr. Thomas White – a reputed university professor; the author of In Defense of Dolphins, and a critic of cetacean captivity – to participate in a panel discussion on orca captivity at its annual conference. Before the session, SeaWorld, which was also represented on the panel, successfully requested that it not be recorded – a move that is highly unusual and unethical at a scientific conference where presentations are made available to the public.

Dr. Thomas White silenced by SeaWorld at a scientific conference

Dr. Thomas White silenced by SeaWorld at a scientific conference

In a video he made about the incident, Dr. White said that SeaWorld’s request was based on the company’s desire to  silence a presenter who they could not portray as a “radical” once his remarks were made available publicly: “They characterize us as radicals, not serious researchers. And, it’s easier to maintain that picture of their critics if there’s no evidence to the contrary.”

In addition to making a public statement about SeaWorld’s effort to marginalize and silence him, Dr. White posted his presentation from the conference on YouTube video, which will likely reach more people than it would have if SeaWorld didn’t muzzle him in the first place.

This is not SeaWorld’s first attempt to tamper with science. In 2014, an Orca Research Trust investigation of SeaWorld’s 52 scientific papers demonstrated, among other things, that the company was using vitamin supplement and artificial insemination studies to justify captivity even though these studies are “unlikely to be useful to wild populations.”

Photo: CTV News

SeaWorld uses research irrelevant to wild orcas to justify captivity (Photo: CTV News)

SeaWorld’s attempts to silence scientists, misrepresent research and spin cruelty into conservation will only motivate “radicals” and “non-radicals” to continue waging a war against the company until it empties the tanks. It will also motivate activists to ensure that public knows that the real extremists and radicals are those who terrorize animals for profit.

Filed under: Entertainment, Opinion
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Aquarium Has Been Hiding Two Captured Orcas in Temporary Tanks For Ten Months

October 27, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

In December 2013, the Russian company VDNKh Park packed two killer whales into crates at the East end of the country and flew them 10 hours to Moscow to be displayed in an aquarium being built in the city.

In 2012, Namia is transported after being captured(photo:

In 2012, Namia is transported after being captured (photo:

More than 10 months later, the five and seven year old orcas are languishing in a temporary holding tank that are only 82 feet in diameter because the aquarium’s orca enclosure is still under construction and isn’t expected to be completed until early 2015. According to the Moscow Times, Russian police have refused to open a case on behalf of the orcas because the tank doesn’t meet the country’s definition of cruelty to animals.

Rusty temporary holding tank

Rusty temporary holding tank

Inflatable bubble covers tanks

Inflatable bubble covers tanks

The Russian animal rights group VITA says that guards and customers of a nearby exhibition center have, for months, reported “horrible sounds” and “cries” of killer whales. In spite of substantive evidence and a police report stating that the orcas are being held at this location, the aquarium has denied their presence — until yesterday, when video was released. Now, they are stating that the orcas were held secretly to that Muscovites would be surprised when they arrived at the aquarium.

The Director of the Far East Orca Russia Project (FEROP) says that holding killer whales in these circumstances is “completely abnormal” and that “we have no setting in Russia for keeping killer whales in captivity.” Other experts say that holding orcas captive can shorten their life and make them dangerous, as demonstrated in the documentary film Blackfish.

Your Turn

In light of the fact that an orca enclosure is being built at the new Moscow aquarium, Russia isn’t going to return these animals to their pod in the wild unless the world unites behind these orcas. Please sign the Take Part petition and PETA’s form letter to the Russian Ambassador to the UK asking for the orcas to be released back into the wild.

For the past 44 years, an orca named Lolita has been held captive at the Miami Seaquarium in a 60′ by 80′ pool, the smallest orca enclosure in the United States. For the first ten years of her captivity, Lolita had an orca companion named Hugo. In 1980, Hugo repeatedly smashed his head against the wall until he died. Lolita has been alone for 34 years.


Lolita has lived in a small, barren tank for 44 years

A massive march to free Lolita and return her to her to the wild will take place next to the Seaquarium on January 17th. Please share this information with your friends in Florida.

Filed under: Entertainment, WIldlife
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American Humane Association Disputes TheirTurn’s Claim

August 22, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

After reading TheirTurn’s post stating that the American Humane Association “endorses” SeaWorld’s proposal for larger orca tanks, the AHA sent a letter disputing our claim. Following is the relevant excerpt:

“We have not given a stamp of approval to any project. One of our scientists has been asked to serve on an Independent Advisory Panel with other leading experts. The panel has not yet met, and we have not provided any input or recommendations at this point.” 

TheirTurn’s original post was written in response to a news story which stated that the construction of the larger orca enclosures “will be overseen by a group of advisors that include executives from The American Humane Association.” While “overseeing” might not be an official endorsement, the participation of a “humane” organization would lend credibility to this extraordinarily misguided project. Shouldn’t the AHA, like other humane organizations, be using its influence to end – and not prolong – orca captivity?  If the AHA’s “oversight” role was misrepresented in the original news story, then the organization should say so and clearly state its position on the proposed larger tanks.

Finally, SeaWorld picked the AHA for a reason: it supports of the use of animals in entertainment.

Rendering of SeaWorld's larger orca enclosure

Rendering of SeaWorld’s larger orca enclosure

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American Humane Association Endorses Larger Orca Tanks at SeaWorld

August 19, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

Are you sitting down? SeaWorld’s proposal for larger orca tanks has received a stamp of approval from the American Humane Association (AHA). The AHA, which describes itself as having “been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect” will “oversee the building of the facilities,” according to SeaWorld.

Photo: SeaWorld Entertainment

Photo: SeaWorld Entertainment

Your Turn

If the AHA were being true to its mission, then it would block the construction of the tanks, not oversee it. It would also join the fight to release the captive orcas into ocean sanctuaries. This is not the first time the AHA has betrayed the animals it claims to protect. In a lengthy Hollywood Reporter article, the organization was exposed for covering up abuse on movie sets. Please contact the AHA, which had $12.8 million in revenues in 2013, to let them how you feel about their tacit endorsement of SeaWorld.

Filed under: Entertainment
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Should We Be Worried about SeaWorld’s Larger Tanks?

August 19, 2014 by Leave a Comment


When SeaWorld’s stock price took a plunge last week, the ratings agency Standard & Poors blamed it on lower attendance due to “the company’s use of orca whales for entertainment purposes.” In response, SeaWorld announced that it is enlarging the orca tanks at three of its parks.

With the orca show being SeaWorld’s main attraction, I understand why the heartless souls who run the company would attempt install bigger tanks to regain the public trust and salvage the show, but could this possibly work, given public pressure to release the whales into ocean sanctuaries? Could bigger tanks really enable Sea World to continue holding whales captive? It’s too soon to say, but the activist community is doubling down – with PETA releasing this new 30 second video about orca activity. Even CNN is joining the fight by re-airing Blackfish, which is what triggered the international movement against Sea World in the first place. Thank you, CNN.

Filed under: Entertainment
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