Almost 10,000 people worldwide have signed an online petition calling on the Dubai government to axe plans for a SeaWorld aquatic theme park on animal rights concerns.
The US-based company SeaWorld Entertainment announced in May last year it had reached an agreement to "assess the viability of a multi-park development in the Middle East", without identifying who the deal was with or where the potential parks would be located.
The company has not commented on the potential deal since, but animals rights activists have protested against the idea in the hope of preventing it from coming to fruition.
The most recent petition, on thepetitionsite.com, claims the park, which promotes whale shows as its main feature, is “absolutely barbaric” in the way it treats the orcas in captivity.
It says in their natural habitat whales usually swim an average 100 miles (160km) per day, live in Arctic conditions and deep at sea. By contrast, the SeaWorld resorts, of which there are 11 in the US and one in Australia, are all in hot climates, causing the whales to become sunburnt and occasionally harm themselves attempting to escape the pools they are kept in.
“Dubai has a great reputation as a popular tourist destination for beautiful architecture, beautiful nature and kind hearted people, thus you should not tarnish your great reputation by allowing SeaWorld to open a SeaWorld park in Dubai,” the petition, which has been signed by people who say they are from countries across Europe, the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, US and others, stated.
“SeaWorld is already one of the worst cases of wild animal abuse in the history of the United States and Australia (the two countries that SeaWorld unfortunately exists in) and SeaWorld should not be allowed to exist in Dubai as well.”
In January, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claimed a SeaWorld park in the Middle East would fail, citing the company’s worsening financial performance in the US.
The company’s profits dropped 28 percent during the last financial year, ending June 30, 2014.
“SeaWorld is thinking of coming to the Middle East, but buyer beware: in the United States, the company's profits have plummeted, its stock continues to sink like a stone, its corporate partners have fled, cutting their losses, its CEO is out the door, its laying off hundreds of employees, shareholders have filed lawsuits, and a recent poll named it one of the worst companies in the United States,” the group said in a statement to Arabian Business in January, referring to the replacement of Atchison by chairman David D'Alessandro in November, as the company announced more than 100 job losses.
“Now, to the astonishment of watchers on Wall Street and a public increasingly aware of cruelty to animals, the beleaguered company is pitching its failing business to Middle Eastern investors. That is why PETA is alerting stakeholders that the ‘abusement’ park is testing foreign waters.”For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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