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Wed 14 Dec 2016 02:07 PM

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Animal rights group attacks plans for SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

Shares in SeaWorld Entertainment plummeted to all-time low in September amid ongoing allegations of animal cruelty

Animal rights group attacks plans for SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has hit out at plans to build a SeaWorld aquatic park in Abu Dhabi.

PETA’s vice-president of international campaigns, Jason Baker, said in a statement that the US-based entertainment company staged “deplorable displays” that represented cruelty to the marine animals involved.

It came after Miral and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc announced their partnership on Tuesday to develop SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, a marine-themed park on Yas Island, scheduled to open in 2022 under the plans.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will include the UAE’s first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre with world-class facilities and care and conservation resources, the two companies said.

The park will also be the first new SeaWorld without orcas, they said. In March, SeaWorld announced it would end its controversial orca breeding programme following heavy criticism over alleged poor treatment of its killer whales exposed in the documentary BlackFish.  

In a statement on Wednesday, PETA’s Baker said the marine animals at other SeaWorld parks “endured a life of misery” and urged Abu Dhabi to ditch the plans and focus on its other high-profile projects instead.

He added: “In addition, as the public has learned how marine mammals suffer and prematurely die in these tanks, SeaWorld's business has tanked, several of its highest-ranking executives have stepped down, its stock has plummeted, and protests have plagued its parks.

“If Abu Dhabi wants to maintain its extraordinary reputation, it should quickly halt [these] plans.”

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed SeaWorld, which has 11 theme parks in the US, saw its shares sink to a record low in September after it halted dividends indefinitely amid ongoing controversy and falling visitor numbers. 

The troubled company first announced in May 2014 it had reached an agreement to “assess the viability of a multi-park development in the Middle East”, but gave no further details at the time.

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