SeaWorld’s attempt at a fresh start with new CEO Joel Manby doesn’t seem so fresh after all. After PETA did a little digging, we uncovered grave animal-care issues at two of the facilities where Manby previously worked—Newport Aquarium and Wild Adventure Theme Park.
Before he became the CEO of SeaWorld—a company that built its business by taking orcas from the wild and experimenting with captive breeding, causing many wild-caught orcas to die prematurely in the process—Manby was head of the Newport Aquarium, which started a captive-breeding program for wild-caught shark rays that had similar results: One shark ray died five days after arriving at the facility as the result of a “mating injury,” and an entire litter of six shark pups died within a month of their births.
Wild Adventure’s history is also troubling, given its likeness to SeaWorld’s. In 2013—shortly after PETA asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate reports that a child was bitten by a dolphin at a SeaWorld dolphin-petting tank—the USDA cited Wild Adventure for allowing children and adults to handle guinea pigs and rabbits without supervision at its petting zoo. Within months of that bite, both facilities were cited for disrepair: Wild Adventure’s giraffe barn had a sagging roof, splintered wood, and exposed screws and was structurally unsound, among other issues, while SeaWorld’s tanks and surrounding areas had crumbling concrete and rusty beams.
“Joel Manby is bringing more of the same to SeaWorld: a history of premature animal deaths and violations of federal animal-protection laws,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “PETA is calling on him to change his act completely and steer SeaWorld toward a fresh new direction that includes freedom for the orcas who still suffer in its tiny tanks.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has also sent a letter to Manby.