The SeaWorld aquatic theme park chain will no longer exhibit ‘circus-style’ stunts after a campaign by animal rights group PETA. Such stunts included the trainers standing on the faces of the animals and riding their backs, but these exhibitions will now be phased out across all of SeaWorld Entertainment’s theme parks.

PETA used the stock they own in SeaWorld Entertainment to make a shareholder proposal that called for an end to what they claimed to be “demeaning” performances.

An online statement published by PETA stated: “Victory! SeaWorld has stopped treating dolphins like surfboards and will soon stop making trainers stand on their faces in demeaning circus-style shows.”

Dolphin surfing – which involves a trainer holding onto the dolphin’s dorsal fin as it swims – had already been stopped prior to this latest development. Now SeaWorld says they will be phasing out the other practice of trainers standing on the noses (rostrums) of the dolphins as well. The phasing out process should take a few months.

SeaWorld stated their belief that neither of the behaviours in question are harmful to the dolphins in any way and issued a statement claiming the decision came from their own leadership and was not influenced in any way by the “actions of ill-informed activists”.

PETA executive Vice-President, Tracy Reiman, responded, saying: “Stopping trainers from treating dolphins like surfboards means less abuse at SeaWorld, but orcas and other dolphins continue to suffer in tiny concrete tanks. The company seems intent on being dragged, kicking and screaming, into ultimately releasing these animals to seaside sanctuaries. PETA is calling on it to put a plan in place now.”