A killer whale (orca) at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Wolfgang Kaehler—LightRocket/Getty Images
March 27, 2015 9:10 AM EDT

A class action lawsuit has been filed against SeaWorld claiming that customers were deceived about the parks’ harmful treatment of whales, and that they should be refunded for their tickets.

The plaintiff is Holly Hall, a California woman who lawyers say would not have taken her family to a SeaWorld park in 2011 if she had known about the way the whales were treated, citing powerful drugs, forced breeding and cramped quarters that are detrimental to their health, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The lawsuit says any visitors to the parks in the last four years should be refunded, alleging that SeaWorld deliberately misleads the public about its care for orca whales.

The lawsuit comes two years after the popular documentary Blackfish, which sought to expose abuses in the sea-park industry through the story of one whale. On Tuesday, former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove published his own exposé, Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish. The lawyers in the class action lawsuit had previously represented Hargrove.

SeaWorld is calling the suit “a publicity stunt intended to generate more news coverage of John Hargrove’s anti-SeaWorld book,” emphasizing that there is “no higher priority for SeaWorld than the health and well-being of its animals.”

[Orlando Sentinel]

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