PETA, ACLU Force San Diego Airport To Display Anti-SeaWorld Ad
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the ACLU have succeeded in forcing Lindbergh Field, San Diego's international airport, to display an anti-SeaWorld advertisement that the airport initially did not want to display, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The organizations got their way in the form of an out-of-court settlement, after suing the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in March for declining to accept $17,500 to display their ad.
The airport reportedly started displaying the contested ad, which features actress Kathy Najimy, in the baggage claim area on Tuesday, and will keep it up for four weeks. The ad reads: "Welcome to San Diego. If you love animals like I do, please avoid SeaWorld. Kathy Najimy for PETA."
The Airport Authority has not disclosed the terms of the settlement.
In a statement, SeaWorld slammed PETA:
"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. We are dedicated to their well-being. There is no organization more passionately committed to the physical, mental, and social care and well-being of animals than SeaWorld, and the real advocates for animals are our trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff, and veterinarians.
ACLU San Diego legal director David Loy celebrated the settlement as a First Amendment win:
Nothing is more fundamental to the First Amendment than the principle that government may not silence speech because of its viewpoint. We are glad this case resulted in the vindication of PETA's free-speech right to reach San Diego visitors on the same terms as any other advertisers.
SeaWorld has been under heavy pressure from PETA and other animal rights groups since the documentary film Blackfish was released last year. The film highlights the purported mistreatment of the theme park's orcas by trainers and management.