Sea World to Sell Baby Sea Lions to Navy

Advocacy Groups Slam Sea World Plan to Sell Baby Sea Lions to Naval Warfare Center

Orlando, FL (May 19, 2003) Sea World Orlando is set to receive a sole-source contract to sell six baby California sea lions to the U.S. Navy for military use as "Intruder Detection Systems," a coalition of animal protection groups announced today.  The groups, including In Defense of Animals (IDA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Earth Island Institute (EII), vowed to stop the amusement park's sale of baby marine mammals to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.

"Sea World is a company that markets itself as a public education, conservation and animal rescue organization," said Suzanne Roy, IDA program director.  "Its plan to sell off six sea lion pups to be cruelly trained and deployed in warfare lays bare the corporation's true motives maximizing profits on the backs of the marine animals held at Sea World parks. The plan is deplorable and must be stopped."

The Navy issued its "sole-source" notice of intent to "procure" the pups on May 15.  The Navy plans to train the young sea lions using operant conditioning, a method that relies heavily on food deprivation.

"As a U.S. Army veteran, I am sorely disappointed at the military's lack of respect for marine mammals and their sea environment," said AWI Research Analyst Christopher Heyde.  "I fully support the need to protect our ports and ships, but the best way to do that is through diligence and existing technologies.  I'm not surprised to find Sea World involved in this; they are once again demonstrating their avarice."

In an ironic twist, Sea World has widely touted its "To the Rescue" program, including a video of the same name which describes how Sea World "saved malnourished [sea lion] pups from certain death."

"Sea lions are intelligent animals who lead complex lives in the sea," said Mark Berman, Associate Director of EII.  "It is apparent that both Sea World and the Navy consider these innocent pups as little more than disposable, exploitable 'systems' to be deployed like so much equipment."

"We will use every means at our disposal to stop this betrayal of these sea lion babies," concluded Roy.

IDA is an international animal advocacy and rescue organization based in Mill Valley, CA.  EII is an international conservation organization based in San Francisco, CA.  AWI is an international animal protection organization based in Washington, DC.

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