SeaWorld Fighting PETA on Vote Over Seaside Sanctuaries

Sandra Pendicini; Orlando Sentinel; February 17, 2017

Animal-welfare activists keep trying to force a vote by SeaWorld Entertainment investors on sending the company’s killer whales to seaside sanctuaries.

SeaWorld is looking for avenues to avoid it.

In December, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals submitted a resolution calling for the retirement of SeaWorld’s orcas to ocean pens.

PETA owns SeaWorld shares. Investors that own enough stock in a public company can place such resolutions on its proxy statement. Investors vote on them at the annual shareholder meetings.

Companies sometimes seek exceptions, though.

SeaWorld has written to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asking whether the staff agrees the proposal can be excluded.

In its letter, SeaWorld argues that PETA’s proposal is vague. Also, the company says, “it is well-known to the proponent that no `seaside sanctuaries’ currently exist.”

PETA has tried several times to get SeaWorld investors to vote on the issue. The group had to withdraw one resolution after SeaWorld said its shares didn’t meet the minimum value needed. PETA said the value fell beneath the minimum required because of SeaWorld’s stock decline. PETA’s original resolution was blocked in 2014 because federal rules require shareholders to have held stock for at least a year before submitting resolutions. SeaWorld had been a publicly traded company for less than a year, so no stockholder could meet that threshold.

SeaWorld said in a statement that putting orcas in untested sanctuaries poses a risk to their health and their lives.

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