Animal rights advocates outraged that a SeaWorld float is included in next week's lineup for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade unveiled plans on Wednesday for a naked protest outside the landmark store.
Demonstrators wearing nothing but black and white body paint to resemble orcas will squeeze into a bathtub outside the midtown Manhattan store on Thursday to mimic orcas held in captivity and to repeat last year's demand – which was denied – that the float be excluded, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said.
"It is unacceptable to confine orcas to barren tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub," said Delcianna Winders, PETA's deputy general counsel.
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The naked protest in temperatures predicted to hover just above freezing rides a wave of controversy surrounding SeaWorld after the 2013 documentary film "Blackfish" alleged the park mishandled the huge sea mammals. The marine theme park uses orcas in its aquatic shows.
Responding to a second year of protests by PETA, Macy's vowed to steer clear of any controversy surrounding the parade, which last year included SeaWorld's multi-color float of dolphins, turtles and orcas.
Float will not be cancelled
"The parade has never taken on, promoted or otherwise engaged in social commentary, political debate, or other forms of advocacy, no matter how worthy," Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras said in a statement.
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SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said the "Waves of Conservation" float would not be cancelled.
"SeaWorld's animals are well cared for and their health and well-being is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. We are proud of our world-class standards of care," said SeaWorld spokeswoman Aimée Jeansonne Becka.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade – now in its 88th edition – is New York City's signature parade. A television audience of more than 50 million viewers and an expected live audience of about 3.5 million people will watch next week's procession of 16 giant balloon characters and 27 floats.
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Image: Orca in tank from Shutterstock