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PETA protesters arrested at SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Ten animal rights protesters from People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals were forcibly removed, and five of them were arrested, in a continuing protest that began Monday with a “die-in” at SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego Water Park.

Dressed in wet suits designed to look like orcas, the PETA protesters were removed by Chula Vista police for allegedly disrupting the experience of park guests.

Protesters “beached” themselves under a sign saying “Sea World Kills.”

“Thirty-nine orcas have dropped dead on SeaWorld’s watch, and not one of them died from old age,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “This summer, PETA is calling on everyone to stay away from SeaWorld until the company agrees to retire the surviving orcas to sea sanctuaries.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a nonprofit umbrella group that accredits facilities such as SeaWorld, said in a statement that SeaWorld follows strict rules implemented to protect orcas.

“SeaWorld is meeting, or exceeding, the highest standard of animal care and welfare of any zoological organization in the world,” the association said.

Responding to the Monday protest, SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz insisted that orcas are well-treated.

“The truth is that our animals, including our orcas, live happy and healthy lives and thrive in our care,” Koontz said. “SeaWorld is the nation’s true animal welfare organization, and the real advocates for animals are our trainers, animal-care staff and veterinarians.”

Koontz said the park will continue to focus on “real issues” impacting marine mammals, including the fight against commercial whaling and shark finning.

“So far this year, SeaWorld has rescued more than 600 marine mammals and birds, giving them a second chance at life,” Koontz said.