A Manchester teacher who inspired his pupils to take up the plight of orcas in captivity is being praised by an international animal rights group.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have awarded Lee Parkinson with the Compassionate Teacher Award after his work inspired his class that workers should be free.
Lee Parkinson inspired by the highly-acclaimed 2013 documentary, Blackfish – which tells the story of Tilikum, an orca held captive at SeaWorld, which will be shown on BBC Four next Thursday- had his year five class from Davyhulme Primary School writing and narrating stories and creating endearing videos about the plight of orcas in captivity.
PETA’s Yvonne Taylor went as far to describe Mr Parkinson as a hero to animals and children.
“Mr Parkinson is a hero to animals and children because he’s fostering kids’ natural compassion for others, which will be a vital part of them for the rest of their lives,” she said.
“PETA urges all prospective visitors to marine-mammal parks to watch Blackfish and see for themselves the barbarity of capture and the misery of captivity for these once free-living animals.”
Although the exercise was inspired by the documentary, Mr Parkinson did not believe that it would be suitable showing for his class due to its 15 rating.
AWARD: Lee Parkinson and his class at Davyhulme Primary School
However the work that the children were able to produce captures perfectly the cruelty that is involved in the containing of intelligent, sensitive marine mammals in a concrete tank that deprives the whales of anything resembling their natural habitat.
In their natural habitat orcas are incredibly social animals living in close family units and can swim up to an incredible 100 miles a day. This is in stark contrast to the treatment that they receive at SeaWorld where they are confined to their tanks forced to swim in endless circles, and perform tricks for our amusement in exchange for dead fish.
Mr Parkinson appears to have the backing of a large proportion of the United States according to a poll on CNN which aired the documentary in the US 84% of people now refuse to take their children to SeaWorld.