PETA takes credit for SeaWorld ending 'dolphin surfing' shows


A SeaWorld trainer rides a dolphin - PHOTO VIA MLIU92/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Photo via mliu92/Wikimedia Commons
  • A SeaWorld trainer rides a dolphin
SeaWorld confirmed they will be phasing out "dolphin surfing" from their shows entirely, and PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is taking credit for putting the pressure on.

In August, PETA filed an abuse complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the practice, and included five "damnable photos," showing visible wounds on dolphin's noses, which the organization attributed to dolphins lifting trainers up with their faces. The park's most recent developments suggest a shift from animal stunt shows to thrill rides, and by December, SeaWorld ended its orca shows in Orlando and SanDiego. But that's not the only way PETA has influence over SeaWorld.

Unbeknownst to many, PETA actually owns stock in SeaWorld, holding shares as of 2013. The purchase became possible when SeaWorld offered up 20 million shares of common stock in an initial public offering, and PETA jumped on it, buying the minimum number of shares necessary to have a say in annual shareholder meetings and to submit resolutions.
In December, months after filing the USDA complaint, PETA submitted a shareholder proposal to SeaWorld, requesting they cease the practice of having trainers ride live dolphins as a circus-style attraction.

Originally, SeaWorld executives argued that PETA was working against them, that they do a lot to protect animals, and that the performance of riding the dolphins did not hurt the animals. But a veterinary report noted the practice was both physically and emotionally damaging to the animals, leaving them wounded and scarred.

On Wednesday, PETA withdrew its proposal, after SeaWorld announced in a filing they would be phasing out the dolphin stunts.

In a press release, PETA said that it hopes SeaWorld will continue to act further by completely phasing out the use of live animals in their shows. They have a website,, dedicated to making their case for cruelty-free attractions at the parks.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.