Travelers passing through San Diego’s Lindbergh Field will get a chance to view an unusual ad over the next four weeks: one that asks them to avoid SeaWorld.
Faced with a lawsuit by PETA and the ACLU, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority instead decided to allow the ad to hang for the next four weeks, according to a Wednesday announcement by the American Civil Liberties Union.
People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) had sought to purchase space in the terminal for an ad that features actress and San Diego native Kathy Najimy. The ad, which will be posted on the wall of Terminal 2 at the airport, asks travelers to avoid SeaWorld, according to a report in the LA Times. PETA has launched a high profile campaign of protests against SeaWorld in the wake of the documentary Blackfish, alleging that the popular marine park mistreats the animals kept there.
After the airport’s ad vendor refused PETA’s $17,500 bid for the space, the group joined with the ACLU to file suit, alleging that the refusal was discriminatory on the grounds that other ads for nonprofits, as well as SeaWorld itself, are present in the concourse. According to a report by CBS8, the lawsuit was settled out of court.
David Loy, legal director at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, applauded the settlement Wednesday, saying that “Nothing is more fundamental to the 1st Amendment than the principle that government may not silence speech because of its viewpoint.” SeaWorld, however, hit back against PETA, using harsh language to describe the controversial animal rights activists:
“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.”
-David Koontz, SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld is no stranger to criticism from PETA. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the group has backed legislation in California aimed at ending Orca shows like those performed at SeaWorld, and ultimately phasing out the captivity of the animals. The proposed bill, which was recently tabled by its author, was inspired by the 2013 documentary Blackfish. The film focused on an Orca named Tilikum, who in 2010 attacked and killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at Orlando’s SeaWorld park. If enacted, the bill would not only ban Orca shows at SeaWorld, but also captive breeding of the animals.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of that legal battle, the recent settlement assures the anti SeaWorld ad will greet travelers for the next several weeks.