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Can you be sued by a killer whale?

Feb 08, 2012

Killer whalesA lawsuit against SeaWorld has five killer whales named as the plaintiffs.

The case is being brought in America by the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), well known for their publicity stunts. They claim that keeping the whales in captivity and making them perform is slavery, and is therefore illegal.

The case hinges on what legal rights the whales have - specifically, whether they are covered by the law against slavery, and whether they have the right to sue. Another problem for PETA may be the question of what gives their legal team the right to bring a case on the whales’ behalf.

Although PETA doesn’t expect to win the case, it says it is happy that the case has gone further than any similar case before. However, even some of those who support the idea of giving animals legal rights think the case might be a mistake. Phillipa Brakes, a biologist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, told the Guardian that the case might do more harm than good, by establishing a legal precedent against recognizing the rights of animals.

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