New federal lawsuit filed against SeaWorld

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SeaWorld Killer Whales

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO — A consolidated federal lawsuit filed in San Diego Friday alleges that SeaWorld has concealed the mistreatment of its captive orca whales with a deceptive marketing campaign.

The complaint joins three separate complaints previously filed by consumers and follows SeaWorld’s unsuccessful effort to have the litigation consolidated in Orlando, Florida.

Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class action law firm, originally filed a lawsuit on behalf of Holly Hall, challenging SeaWorld’s alleged misrepresentation and material omissions concerning the treatment and conditions of its captive killer whales.

During its signature Shamu shows and in its global marketing campaign, SeaWorld states that it “cares for,” “protects,” and “nourishes” its captive orcas, according to the complaint.

“The deceptive and false illusion carefully scripted by SeaWorld and created for the public has concealed not only the mistreatment of these animals, but also concealed orca behavior that evidences how their captivity at SeaWorld is harmful to their welfare,” the complaint states.

“While we do not comment on pending litigation, for SeaWorld there is no higher priority than the health and wellbeing of our animals,” David Koontz, SeaWorld’s communications director, told City News Service.

“According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, SeaWorld is ‘meeting or exceeding the highest standard of animal care and welfare of any zoological organization in the world.”’


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  • Phil T.

    These are just animal hating liberals. They see SeaWorld as an easy target due to the popularity of that fake documentary that was proven false.

    They can spend all the money they want on lawsuits, SeaWorld isn’t going anywhere.

    And the free publicity isn’t hurting…

    • Idiot Liberal

      Absolutely true. These douchebag liberals hate everything that real Americans love.

      Good luck with suing Sea World. I love Sea World and will continue to support it!

      • Julie Casey

        Rather than come across as an immature and overly emotional, rage-filled, $eaWorld-loving animal hater, you should try formulating a semi-intelligent, fact-filled response that explains why you support the captivity of ocean-dwelling apex predators that clearly don’t thrive in tiny barren concrete pools on dry land. If all you’re going to do is attack and call people who have different views than yours all sorts of 5th-grade level names, you won’t be taken seriously by anyone here and you are certainly not doing $eaworld any favors by admitting you support them; no one wants the support of someone who lashes out and repeatedly becomes Overly upset when faced with the truth.

        Try backing up your beliefs with factual data and truthful findings instead of freaking out and getting so emotional. You’ll get more respect and be taken seriously instead of being laughed at, which is the only reaction anyone can possibly have to your current maniacal comments.

    • Lisa

      Whether you watch Blackfish or not it is only common sense that these animals don’t belong in these environments. Their physical and psychological needs are insufficient in amusement parks. Would you enjoy being stuck in a tiny barren room your whole life?

      • Idiot Liberal

        Your “common sense” and the rest of America’s are two totally different things.

        I trust Sea World over any vegan group. Most Americans do!

        • Lisa

          Obviously your perceiving the cause of animal rights as a “liberal” issue is clouding your common sense. To think these animals don’t suffer in those small tanks and environments that represent nothing of their natural habit is wrong. You can believe SeaWorld all you want, I mean wait reason do they have to lie, right $$$? And you can think this is some sort of “vegan” conspiracy but I will believe what I know is right.

    • Lisa

      Regardless of your political leanings do you really think orcas like swimming around in circles in a tank staring at your ugly kids all day?

      • Julie Casey

        Lololol you speak the truth my friend, the ABSOLUTE truth!! The pro-captivity, pro-SeaWorld, anti-animal rights folks seem to have lost all ability to think clearly or rationally; their inability to show empathy and compassion make me worry about the future of this country and the planet in general.

    • Viochita Fea

      Phil T., please tell me how non-liberals are the true animal lovers. And how “that fake documentary” was proven false, because your statements look ass-backwards to the rest of the world.

    • Anna

      Phil T and ‘Idiot Liberal’: I’ve never watched Blackfish, have no plans to and I’m not a ‘Liberal’. But it seems that
      I might not be a ‘real American’ either and by the way you make it sound, I’m feeling pretty good about that.

      The ‘free publicity’ is hurting – a lot. I live on MIssion Bay, have for several years, and drive by SeaWorld on Ingrahm and SeaWorld Dr. all the time and on occasion walk out my back door to watch the nightly fireworks. Traffic is noticeably down this year so I was not surprised to learn that attendance is down considerably as is the income for SeaWorld – down 85%. Seemingly since you are not one to allow yourself to be an informed person, it would do no good for me to add any links. But for anyone else you can easily find the reports on WSJ, USAToday etc…

      Oh, and Phil T., next time that you want to create a fake account to support your own idiotic statements you may want to wait longer than three minutes. Just one American helping out anoth… …whatever your deal is.

      • Rosario

        We love sea world and think these people trying to shut it down are just green peace communists. It’s true that Americans that I know love seeing Amina’s close up in zoos and at sea world. These other haters are just trying to cause trouble.

    • Liberals suck

      Fcking liberals make me puke!!! Kill unborn babies all day, but dont be mean to Whales right? FCK YOU!!!!

      • Julie Casey

        So you’re actually admitting $eaWorld’s keeping huge, ocean-dwelling mammals in captivity is cruel? That’s a start. Now if you’d simply stop with the highly emotional, rage-filled outbursts and try to back up why you think it’s OK to continue the cruel and appalling practice of cetacean captivity, that would be a mature, adult conversation. You and your venom-spewing $eaWorld friends aren’t helping your side gain any points with the emotional comments and rants you continue posting. All you’re doing right now is making yourself look absolutely ridiculous.

  • Ed Mandlebaum

    What a load of crap from a PARASITE LAWYER. The lowest form of scumbag, this clueless fool us just a pathetic parasite.

  • Phil T.

    Crazy activist groups like the one who made the now-proven fake documentary who try to shut down coal, tree farming, fur, dairy, beef farms, etc. are NOT supported by the majority of Americans. They come here and stir $hit up to make a point.

    We all laugh at them.

    While your actions temporarily caused financial grief to Sea World, that’s in the past and attendance has picked up dramatically.

    Proving once again that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

    Ha ha ha ha…

    • Julie Casey

      Sorry, your entire post is 100% untrue. The major points of the documentary Blackfish are all true: the captures off Washington state were horrific, captivity is cruel and causes stress and depression and anxiety to the orcas, a $eaWorld whale violently dismembered and killed his trainer, OSHA fined $eaWorld for safety violations, a $eaWorld orca killed his trainer in Spain, SeaWorld breeds their whales too young, the whales are stuck in tiny, barren pools and have nowhere to flee when dominant whales start attacking the less dominant, the list goes on and on. SeaWorld ‘s profits are dwindling and the majority of the public are fully aware of how cruel captivy is, and People are not visiting SeaWorld anymore. People are definitely visiting other parks; their numbers have increased significantly while $eaWorld’s continue to nose-dive. You and SeaWorld have a lot in common – you believe that if you say something, that makes it true. Well, I’m sorry to tell you this but you can’t simply type lie after lie in a comment thread and expect anyone with more than two brain cells will believe it. Especially when the lies are as irrational and silly as the ones you posted with such conviction. SeaWorld’s days are numbered if they don’t evolve by phasing out cruel practice of captivity – it’s up to them and they are the only the only ones who can fix this huge problem of theirs.

      • johnny p

        i have a feeling youre one of those dope-smoking hippies who just want to stir up trouble wherever you go. why dont you just get out of our town and go protest something else while you live your precious hemp smoking lifestyle. you are not wanted here. no one agrees with you.

        • Julie Casey

          What a strange, illogical and baseless statement. You should try to keep your emotions and anger out of it and instead form logical, substantial suggestions that get your point across in an adult and factual way. Name-calling and baseless accusations do nothing to help your opinion sound true, it just makes it obvious that you have zero truth and substance to your beliefs so you resort to irrational, completely random insults and name-calling. Your certainly not doing yourself or $eaWorld any favors by getting ridiculously emotional about an issue that is pretty black-and-white (no pun intended). I have scientific fact, decades of research, and the findings of hundreds of marine biologists and orca researchers on my side. What about you? And just a tip: if you respond, you should try to leave rants, emotional tirades, and 5th-grade name calling out of it. That way, your opinion might be taken a tad more seriously than any of your comments so far.

    • Julie Casey

      And I’m not sure why you’s say “attendance has picked up dramatically ” when that is again absolutely untrue. It might have picked up a bit since the lazy parents with zero compassion and originality take the easy way to keeping their little chubetts busy and momentarily turn off the TV, put the can of Pringles away, and waddle their way into SeaWorld where they’re going to sit On their a**es all over again and be entertained watching animals that are most likely brighter than they are performing circus tricks. But once summer is over, attendance will nose dive all over again, since all the little lazy kids with big lazy parents will be in school trying to comprehend things like why it’s wrong to keep massive apex predators in tiny barren concrete pools, since their parents couldn’t teach that to them.

  • Iggy Salazar

    We bought the family pack that Sea World offers and went 3 times this summer. My kids loved it and we plan to go two more times.

    With the true entertainment that SW provides, as well as their environmental efforts locally, I give them TWO THUMBS UP!


    • Julie Casey

      Ugh-now we know who is actually visiting this hell on earth. The animal prison they call “$eaWorld”. I don’t know how anyone could walk through those gates and enjoy seeing depressed, unhealthy, massive ocean-dwelling animals in tiny, barren, dingy tanks. You couldn’t pay me to step foot in that place, and the majority of the public feels the same, thank goodness. I can’t believe you’re admitting to taking your kids there, knowing what they do to orca families and the pain and suffering $eaWorld forces these poor animals to go through.

      • Kasatka

        Hell on earth? I’m a former Marine and I’ve experienced some really messed up places, places you can really call “hell on earth”. I’d worry about humanity way before I’d worry about Orcas.

        • Julie Casey

          I have the ability to feel empathy for others and believe me, SeaWorld is a true Hell on Earth for the depressed, unhealthy, emotionally tortured animals held prisoner there. Just because families filled with less than 25 brain cells between them find a day of watching sad, huge apex predators doing circus tricks in their tiny, barren concrete pools “fun” does not mean the animals are enjoying having to work every day all day for frozen fish. Just because families of knuckle-dragging mouth breathers who don’t like to walk more than 30 feet before plopping themselves down to be entertained by wild animals trapped in prison for life find a day full of oooohing and aaaahing at the giant creatures in the itty bitty pools “fun” certainly doesn’t mean those poor trapped orcas are enjoying themselves. You should know how to empathize, I’m sure you’ve seen some heavy stuff. You’re telling me you actually feel good about seeing intelligent, huge, emotionally complex animals that were ripped from their families trying to swim around in teeny dank pools with zero semblance to their natural environment in the wild? It makes me sad and nauseous just thinking about their sad, awful, stressful, tormented lives.

  • Obozo the Clown

    These idiot activists would be taken more seriously if they cared about the millions of babies being killed instead of alleged mistreatment of a few killer whales.

    • Julie Casey

      Very mature, fact-filled comment. It seems when faced with the truth, the pro-captivity, pro-$eaworld folks resort to the only thing they know: name-calling, emotional outbursts, and immature rants about political affiliations (which still baffles me) rather than explaining why they support the cruelty of captivity and an organization with a proven track record of manipulation, lying, and deceit.

      Try putting some thought into your angry and emotion-laden outbursts so people can take you seriously.

  • Leave Seaworld Alone!

    Leave seaworld alone! These stupid donkey show whining liberals don’t get it! SeaWorld has repeatedly and overwhelmingly helped marine life (remember all the oil soaked and starving seals). NAture is cruel! SeaWorld is carefree living with free healthcare and seafood to boot! If these animals were in the wild would be dead!

    • Julie Casey

      Are you for real? Do you have any concept of how absolutely out of touch with reality your comments are? Try learning a little something about killer whales on a website besides $eaWorld’s or some computer hack paid by $eaWorld (like that joke of a site “awesome ocean”- egads!). I would even suggest reading an actual BOOK-there are many where you can read the truth about how appalling $eaWorld is -try “Death at$eaWorld” or “Beneath the Surface” or “A Whale Called Killer” or if books aren’t your thing, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion they’re not, how about documentaries like “Lolita;Dying to Entertain You” or “Blackfish” or one of the hundreds of documentaries on BBC or Animal Planet or YouTube. Any and all of the truthful books/documentaries mentioned will give you a better idea of orcas and what they need in order to be healthy and happy, in the ocean amongst family pods while travelling great distances on a daily basis. They live to hunt, share their prey, and coordinate hunting behavior that they’ve perfected over millions of years of living in the ocean, where they are all supposed to be. As you know, not one single $eaWorld orca was rescued; they were either ripped from their families in violent, horrific, traumatic kidnappings, or they were born in those barren, tiny, concrete pools to mothers that were bred far too young and most likely at no choice of her own-they were probably artificially inseminated, a horrible uncomfortable procedure that they are forced into and have absolutely no choice in. How can anyone even have any desire to walk into that hell hole knowing how depressed, drugged, unhealthy and tortured those poor animals are? Simply by being in captivity, they are being mistreated. A teeny barren pool on dry land is no place for a massive, ocean dwelling apex predator built to swim non-stop all day and night. How can you look at those whales without feeling nauseous, just knowing how horrible every single minute of their lives are, trapped inside a little pool with other whales they don’t want to be around but can never get away from? How is that enjoyable to see? How can someone actually PAY to witness that? You couldn’t pay me to walk through those turnstiles, I don’t care how much money I was offered. Ugh. Horrible.

    • Julie Casey

      There are many marine mammal rescue non-profits that save animals without the cruelty if captivity. In 2013, a single non-profit organization rescued more animals than all 3 $eaWorlds combined. So don’t use the excuse of rescue and rehab to continue the cruel and barbaric practice of cetacean captivity. If SeaWorld were to end tomorrow, the non-profits could easily pick up and cover whatever SeaWorld might have done. Also, none of the non-profits call the press every single time they rescue an animal the way SW does. That’s the only reason anyone thinks SW handles a lot of rescues; they make a huge PR deal out of everything they do, as opposed to the non-profits that simply go about their business rescuing far more animals than SW every year, just without calling every newspaper and news website to let them know about what they’re doing the way $eaWorld does.

  • Julie Casey

    Thank God this Marine Mammal Death Camp will be a thing of the past soon. Sorry $eaWorld, you’ve had 50 years to prove this appalling experiment of keeping huge, supremely intelligent, emotionally complex, OCEAN dwelling apex predators in tiny barren pools is a place where whales can live and these minuscule tubs can mimick their natural environment….clearly you have failed miserably and you need to own up to your many mistakes and do the right thing for the animals’ sake. Phase out the horrific breeding program, end the ridiculous circus tricks and instead of spending $300 million on slightly less-small pools, secure some Sea pens and let your depressed, suffering amimals retire in peace instead of working every single one of them quite literally to DEATH. You’ve made billions off of their pain and emotional trauma, now turn around and do the only humane and considerate thing possible at this point: LET THEM BE WHALES. You’ve already ruined their families, ripped them from their homes and parents, denied them the basic life they should have lived. Just let them enjoy their final years on this earth in the ocean, where they should have been all along the Hell on Earth organization called $eaWorld was created. If you continue to ignore the problem and deny the truth, you’ll just crash and burn until you nose-dive into oblivion. The public is now fully aware of the fact that captivity is absolutely wrong and no way for any animal to live, never mind a huge orca that in the wild NEVER stops moving, since even when they sleep they Continue to swim in a forward motion. Within your hellacious den of doom, the poor orcas bob listlessly at the surface all day and night; this alone is proof that captive whales are merely similar-looking shells of their wild counterparts. Your captive whales do not know what being a killer whale is all about. The minuscule SeaWorld pools never allow them to come close to living the way they have evolved millions of years to live -swimming far and fast in their natural habitat, the ocean. The ocean never ends; there are no walls and there are thousands of varieties of plants, animals, fish, rocks and best of all, family members. Evolve or say goodbye-you’re the only ones who can save yourselves. The truth can’t be put back in the box – it’s out to stay and more and more people are opening their eyes to the cruelty of captivity every day.

  • sarasotamermaid

    You don’t need to be a cetacean expert to realize wild orca are highly intelligent, stay with their family their entire lived and can swim up to 100 miles, in straight lines, daily. Confining orca to elliptical, chemically treated tanks and tearing children from their mothers; is NOT family friendly, educational or conservational!
    Restricting orca exercise, training them by food ‘management’ (read deprivation) and captive breeding (different pods, that would’ve never met in the wild), causes frustration and a host of psychological and physical impairments (have you wondered about the collapsed dorsal fins on SeaWorld orca).

  • Anita Ponce

    We’ve noticed a huge increase in attendance at Sea World. No way will Sea World be closed down.

    Right after that movie came out, people stopped going; but now it’s always full. This summer there were longer lines than ever before.

    People love Sea World. I know my family does.

    I wish these bad people that keep saying bad stuff about Sea World would just go away! They aren’t from San Diego and don’t care about this town. Sea World has ALWAYS been a huge proponent of this city.

    • Julie Casey

      It’s too bad you’re teaching your kids that cetacean captivity is OK; I would hope in this day and age every parent would be teaching their children kindness, empathy and consideration and not cruelty, domination over wild animals that are not meant to be kept in inhumane enclosures, and respect. It’s frightening to me that parents like you exist in this world. No wonder so many kids today are selfish, inconsiderate, rude brats who are only concerned about “ME ME ME ME!!!!!” You keep enjoying the Hellhole otherwise known as $eaWorld, hopefully your kids will have teachers or other adult role models in their lives who will teach them to be good people who should respect our fellow earth-dwelling beings. Lord knows their parents won’t be teaching them any of that! Yikes.

    • Julie Casey

      My parents live about 2 miles from SeaWorld and every time I drive down to visit them I notice there is NEVER the crazy backed-up traffic at the SeaWorld exit off the 5 Freeway that there used to be. 5 years ago it took 10 minutes just to get up the exit ramp, cars were always so backed up. Now when I drive by there is not any kind of line or back-up regardless of the day or time. Saturdays, Sundays, it’s always smooth and quick sailing whereas five years ago, it was impossibly crowded all of the time. I’ve made a point to check out the parking lot mid-day on weekends and it is never even close to being full. In fact, one Saturday we were walking around Mission Bay and as we walked by the lot, my dad asked if SeaWorld had closed down because there were so few cars there. I don’t know which Seaworld everyone here is talking about that they claim is so full and bustling all the time, because from the outside, based on the number of cars in the lot and the traffic on the road from the freeway, you can definitely tell there has been a huge impact. Oh wait!! I know which $eaworld all of the pro-seaworld, pro-captivity folks are talking about! The one IN THEIR DREAMS! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

      • Bob Brown

        How do you know the animals are unhappy? Some people like living in the city, some people like living in the country, some people can live in a hundred square foot apartment, some require acres. Since you are putting human emotion into this after all. There are people that are fine and dandy living in the amazon. Would you be ok living there? Some people like hanging from his in there backs, do you? How do you know the animals hate being at sea world?

  • Georgina

    Why should these beautiful animals be kept in tiny pools and kept in pods where they cant even communicate with eachother just because we like seeing wild animals close up? So many of the orcas are injured off of others because they don’t understand, search it there’s many, many photos, seaward has actually had a orca die because it couldn’t get away from 2 others as the pens were so small it took hours for it to bleed to death. They also live way longer in the wild . And the deaths of trainers should at least get the point across that they are unhappy. Stop lieing to yourself and see it for what it really is…

  • Donna Preston

    I’m sure that the people who are employed in this public entertainment industry at Sea World do feel that they are caring for their captives well. However, the true point is actually more basic than the day to day feedings and medical care of already captive animals. It’s inherent in the actual confinement that the problem really lies. No matter how well the employees take care of their captives, the animals can not live healthy in tanks and under these pubic display circumstances. Whales, dolphins and other sea animals, for example, are highly intelligent and social creatures who migrate and use their eco-vocalizations to communicate long distances in the open oceans. Certain whales can actually communicate as far away as 100 miles. In this manner, in the wild, they are able to locate their own pods and determine which direction to go.

    In captivity, the anguished and depressed whales get the same response back day after day, year after year. It’s their own voice communications that bounce right back at them and go no where but painfully back into their own ears. This takes little time to drive the social animals into depths of dismal despair and even whale mental illness.

    This is just one reason why no matter how high Sea World’s standards are said to be, alongwith their proven lies and attempts at PR, the bottom line is that these large sea animals do not belong in fish bowls where they not only experience physical atrophy, but a sort of atrophy of depression and confusion that results in whale mental instability and overwhelming anger and resentment. This style of torture and alienation is the worst thing that can happen to any animal in captivity. It results in them being robbed of it’s future hope and will to live.

    That’s not a high standard of health care in my book, what about yours?

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