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Whales are people, too.

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Editor's Note: Jennifer O’Connor is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) works to promote animal rights and mitigate cruelty toward animals.

By Jennifer O'Connor – Special to CNN

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the condition of slavery. But it does not refer to a "person" or any particular class of victims.

So, can animals be slaves?

In a precedent-setting case, PETA, three marine-mammal experts and two former orca (killer whale) trainers are suing SeaWorld on behalf of five orcas who were taken from their home by force, locked up, put to work and never allowed to leave - the very definition of slavery.

Corky, Kasatka and Ulises went from exploring the vast seas with their families to a sterile tank barely larger than their own bodies at SeaWorld San Diego. Tilikum and Katina float listlessly between performances at SeaWorld Orlando. Now all five orcas will get their day in court.

The case - the first-ever seeking to apply the 13th Amendment to nonhuman animals – represents a growing trend among a new generation of legal advocates who recognize that society moved away from the outdated notion that animals are unfeeling things a long time ago. It is time for our laws to follow suit.

The lawsuit calls for the five orcas to be released to a more appropriate environment, such as a coastal sanctuary. Protected sea pens would allow these orcas greater freedom of movement; the opportunity to see, sense and communicate with their wild cousins and other ocean animals; and the ability to feel the tides and waves and engage in behavior that is natural to their species.

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I'm setting up a new foundation for these slaves.

The Underground Whale Road.

A donation site will be up soon.

I'll be sure to donate, sounds like a decent orcanization.

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I agree with them. Whales are extremely smart creatures with attachments to family and at least something analogous to emotion. They shouldn't be kept isolated in tanks.

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