It sounds counter-intuitive, but Loro Parque is to appeal a judgment which found in its favour against animal rights organization PETA. In 2016 Loro Parque took legal action against the activist group for accusations it made to Seprona (Guardia Civil Environmental Unit) for alleged mistreatment of its orcas. Loro Parque says that PETA not only made the denuncia to the police but also started an international press campaign against the park, even though “the previous investigations of Seprona confirmed that there were absolutely no indications of mistreatment and that the orcas were in optimal conditions”.
Now, a sentence published yesterday has ruled that “the installations of the orcas at Loro Parque fulfill the regulations in force and the general condition of the orcas is the correct one”. It also states that “is unquestionable that the activity developed at Loro Parque complies strictly to the applicable legal requirements and counts with the obligatory authorizations and licenses” and accepts that it has been verified that “the zoological park has qualified personnel to take care of and medically treat the orcas that live in its installations”.
So why is Loro Parque appealing the judgment? The park says that although the judicial resolution never once questions the wellbeing of the orcas in Loro Parque, and indeed makes it clear that the orcas are in good conditions, attended by qualified professionals and experts, the sentence explicitly accepts that PETA has freedom of speech rights protected by legislation. The court noted that although the accusations were demonstrated to be false, the right to free speech also has to be protected in a democratic society.
Loro Parque’s response is that it is also necessary “to protect the legal and legitimate economic activities which are the motor of our society, and will therefore appeal this sentence to the High Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in order to address the legal argument that the legitimate use of freedom of speech cannot be the excuse for organizing defamation campaigns against organizations like Loro Parque, which has been involved in Nature conservation and animal wellbeing work for 45 years”.