Animal rights activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have taken issue with the Atlanta Pride Committee’s choice of the Georgia Aquarium as the venue for the now annual Atlanta Pride Kickoff party, set for Oct. 12 this year.
PETA claims the music played during the event is damaging to the well-being of the animals inside of the tanks. Lynch recently joined in the criticism by sending a letter to the Atlanta Pride Committee.
“Animals shouldn’t have to suffer for the sake of a party,” Lynch wrote. “Many of the marine mammals at the aquarium are extremely sensitive to sound, and large parties create an even more stressful environment than they already endure in captivity. … Since the kickoff party sets the tone for all of Pride, will you please consider moving it to one of the many alternative venues that Atlanta has to offer?”
Aquarium officials have repeatedly said no harm is done to animals during large events, including Pride’s kickoff party.
“We believe that Ms. Lynch has been given some inaccurate and distorted information by a particular animal rights extremist group with questionable credibility and a history of public relations stunts, which is unfortunate,” Higley said today. “When given the correct facts and scientific evidence, I’m certain she will understand that even during the events we hold here in our state-of-the-art facility, the world’s largest aquarium and our animal care experts (with a combined hundreds of years of experience in caring for aquatic animals) always place the health and well-being of our animals first.”
Higley said that sound levels are monitored and are kept within certain thresholds.
“Since Ms. Lynch has never attended the event for which she is advocating a move and because she did not speak to us about this matter, she does not likely know how we strictly monitor music volume and sound levels – levels which were determined and are strictly monitored based on what the scientific community knows about the hearing thresholds in certain marine mammals. The Aquarium aggressively protects animals from any sound that exceeds these limits. Volume is monitored by professional sound engineers throughout every large event, as it was for last year’s Pride party,” Higley said.
Dan Mathews, a senior vice president of PETA, wrote an opinion piece last year that was published on the Huffington Post where he called on the Atlanta Pride Committee to use a different venue for future kickoff events.
The Atlanta Pride Committee balked on the criticism last year and again planned for the event to take place at the aquarium this year.
“The Atlanta Pride Committee defers to the Georgia Aquarium as they are the animal experts,” Atlanta Pride Board Chair Glen Paul Freedman said. “We are in full support for this venue for the official opening night Pride kick off party and the Atlanta Pride VIP/Sponsor party as well as our continued strong partnership with the Georgia Aquarium.”
Top photo: Actress Jane Lynch at the Georgia Aquarium (courtesy GA Aquarium)