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Campaigning philosophy student takes on Sea World

Kathleen Haase
Kathleen Haase
Kathleen Haase (25) has already applied her Philosophy degree in a practical way by campaigning for the rights of killer whales, setting up a petition to persuade British Airways to stop selling trips to SeaWorld.

With documentaries such as Blackfish highlighting the plight of orcas in captivity, Kathleen is campaigning to persuade the airline to end their partnership with SeaWorld. Campaigning with the support of Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a leading global charity, her petition has gained over 107,000 signatures in just six weeks.

Kathleen says: “Many scientists say that orcas are not suitable for captivity because they are self-aware, very intelligent and live socially complex lives. Their life spans are drastically reduced by approximately 2.5 times in captivity compared with an average age of 30-40 years in the wild.

“Alongside, I am also writing some articles for the WDC on personhood which is interesting from a philosophical perspective. A person is considered to be a human being but the criteria we have for personhood are fulfilled by other species as well, such as orcas, bottlenose dolphins, elephants and chimpanzees. Why do we not grant other species personhood and moral status if they fulfil the criteria?”

Kathleen, originally from Germany, would like to build on this work and work in Marine Conservation in the future. She says: “My personal goal is to establish non-human personhood for cetaceans, but that is very ambitious. A smaller goal would be to ban cetacean captivity for entertainment purposes globally. Idealistically, I would like to combine my backgrounds in Philosophy and Ethics with Marine Conservation, either writing about personhood or going into further study required for working in this field. I find the topic of personhood fascinating and strongly believe that we need to protect our oceans better. If I could contribute anything towards that, it would be a dream come true.”

Kathleen graduated with a BA in Philosophy (2:1) on Friday 18 July. Her petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/british-airways-stop-selling-trips-to-seaworld-end-your-support-for-these-cruel-orca-circuses.