PETA tar­gets new SeaWorld CEO

The group will protest at the ex­ec­u­tive’s home to call at­ten­tion to killer whales.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Hugo Martin hugo.martin@la­

Less than two weeks af­ter tak­ing on the post of chief ex­ec­u­tive of SeaWorld En­ter­tain­ment Inc., Joel Manby can ex­pect a harsh wel­come from Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals.

The an­i­mal rights group, which has been crit­i­ciz­ing SeaWorld’s treat­ment of trained killer whales, plans a protest in front of Manby’s Ge­or­gia home Satur­day.

The group plans to carry signs that say, “Joel Manby Runs Orca Prisons” and “The World Is Watch­ing: Re­lease Or­cas to Sanc­tu­ar­ies.”

SeaWorld called PETA’s planned protest a “new low” for the an­i­mal rights group, say­ing it should in­stead spend time try­ing to res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­tate an­i­mals.

“It is what our team will be fo­cused on while PETA con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate pub­lic­ity for them­selves,” SeaWorld said in a state­ment.

PETA has in­creased its pres­sure on SeaWorld since the re­lease of the 2013 doc­u­men­tary “Black­fish,” which al­leges that the marine theme parks in Florida and San Diego abuse and ne­glect killer whales.

SeaWorld ini­tially dis­missed the crit­i­cism un­til at­ten­dance num­bers at SeaWorld’s parks be­gan to drop last year. The com­pany has since an­nounced plans to nearly dou­ble the size of the tanks that hold the or­cas in SeaWorld San Diego and in­vest $10 mil­lion in match­ing funds to re­search threats to killer whales in the wild.

Manby was named to re­place the pre­vi­ous CEO, Jim Atchi­son, who re­signed in De­cem­ber. Manby, who be­gan the job April 7, was most re­cently CEO of At­lanta com­pany Her­schend Fam­ily En­ter­tain­ment Corp., which owns the Dol­ly­wood theme park in Ten­nessee and the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters bas­ket­ball team, among other busi­nesses.

But SeaWorld’s ef­forts have not ap­peased PETA.

“PETA is re­mind­ing Joel Manby that his first pri­or­ity should be to move the or­cas to coastal sanc­tu­ar­ies, where they could fi­nally live a more nat­u­ral life,” PETA cam­paign spe­cial­ist Ash­ley Byrne said in a state­ment.

To bring at­ten­tion to the is­sue, PETA pro­test­ers tried to block SeaWorld’s float at the 2014 Rose Pa­rade in Pasadena. It was one of the more sub­dued protests by PETA sup­port­ers, who have posed in public in the nude, in plas­tic wrap, in cages and cov­ered in fake blood.

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