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|PETA: Atlanta Pride kickoff party ‘torture’ to aquarium animals|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|October 12, 2011 16:33|
Not everyone who attended the Atlanta Pride kickoff party at the Georgia Aquarium came away with rave reviews. Dan Matthews, a senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, published an opinion piece on Huffington Post Tuesday calling the event “a celebration of freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.”
Matthews, who was in town to work at the organization's booth during the two-day festival, attended the event and is urging Atlanta Pride organizers to hold the party elsewhere in the future. At issue for Matthews and PETA, aside from the animals being held in captivity, was the music playing during the event which Matthews says “has further devastated the lives and psyches of these uniquely gifted animals.”
Matthews writes of a conversation he had with an aquarium volunteer in which the volunteer allegedly remarks that the animals in the tanks were irritated by the dance music, so much so in fact, that the beluga whales began to attack the seals kept inside the same tank.
“The UN may have banned the torture of prisoners with music, but it is routinely practiced at the Georgia Aquarium,” Matthews writes in his article.
James Parker Sheffield, executive director of the Atlanta Pride Committee, called Matthews' article inaccurate and questioned why PETA did not address concerns to the APC before contributing an article to Huffington Post.
“I have complete faith in the staff of the [Georgia] Aquarium. No animals were harmed by our party,” Sheffield said.
“I find it bothersome that an organization with a direct line to us chose to say absolutely nothing,” he added. “Why wasn't there an encouragement of a conversation? No one called us. No one asked a single question. It's really hard for me to view this any other way than PETA looking to have their name in the news.”
When asked if the APC would consider moving the venue due to PETA's concerns, Sheffield said, “Absolutely not.”
Mackenzie Whalen, a spokesperson for the Georgia Aquarium, confirmed today that she was aware of the article and said the Georgia Aquarium was preparing an official response. Whalen said that no animals were harmed during the event or any event held at the aquarium featuring music.
Top photo: The 2011 Atlanta Pride Kickoff Party was held at the Georgia Aquarium for a third consecutive year. (Photo by Brent Corcoran/RNZ Photography)
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