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Travelers appear to ignore airport's new anti-SeaWorld poster

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


By City News Service

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A wall poster at San Diego's airport asking travelers to stay away from SeaWorld largely was ignored by travelers Thursday, according to a television report.

The message, which says "Welcome to San Diego! If you love animals like I do, please avoid SeaWorld. Kathy Najimy for PETA," went up in the Terminal 2 baggage claim this week.

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

The poster had been rejected by the airport's ad agency, but after a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was settled, it was allowed to go on display for one month.

NBC7/39 reported that most travelers don't notice the poster. Those who did had mixed reactions.

"That makes no sense -- why would you avoid SeaWorld if you love animals," visitor Pat Smergy told the station.

Another out-of-town traveler, Christina Semple, had to think for a moment before she said the ad might keep her away from the theme park.

Lindsay Rajt of PETA said the poster would get people talking about the issue of SeaWorld's treatment of killer whales, which was "half the battle -- just getting people to consider that there's another viewpoint other than the glossy SeaWorld flier."

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," David Koontz of SeaWorld San Diego said. "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 members.

"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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