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Anti-SeaWorld ad to be unveiled at San Diego airport

Ad that will be unveiled at the San Diego airport Thursday.

Peta.org

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A wall poster asking travelers to stay away from SeaWorld is scheduled to be unveiled at San Diego's airport Thursday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The organizations sued the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in March, demanding that the poster advertisement be accepted and posted. They contended that advertisements for both nonprofits and for SeaWorld are allowed at the airport, making the rejection of the animal rights group's message discriminatory.

The ACLU and PETA said the lawsuit was settled out of court, allowing the poster featuring actress Kathy Najimy to stay up for one month in Terminal 2.

"Nothing is more fundamental to the First Amendment than the principle that government may not silence speech because of its viewpoint," says David Loy, legal director at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. "We are glad this case resulted in the vindication of PETA's free-speech right to reach San Diego visitors on the same terms as any other advertiser."

The poster features the actress beside the words "Welcome to San Diego! If you love animals like I do, please avoid SeaWorld. Kathy Najimy for PETA."

Najimy, who grew up in San Diego, is known for her roles in "Sister Act" and the HBO series "Veep."

PETA has been demonstrating against SeaWorld for years, contending that its orcas are mistreated. The theme park denies the allegations.

"PETA is an extremist organization and this ad demonstrates that, once again, they are more interested in publicity stunts than helping animals," said David Koontz of SeaWorld San Diego. "The truth is that our animals at SeaWorld are healthy and happy. We are dedicated to their well-being."

He said the "real advocates for animals" are SeaWorld and its trainers, birdkeepers, veterinarians and other animal-care staff.

"Most people recognize that SeaWorld, not PETA, is the real animal welfare organization," Koontz said.

The airport authority had no comment.

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