SAN DIEGO — "Welcome to San Diego!" proclaims actor Kathy Najimy in a new PETA ad designed to greet thousands of tourists arriving each day at the city's airport. "If you love animals like I do," she continues, "please avoid SeaWorld."

Airport advertising vendor JCDecaux has refused PETA's $17,500 to place the "vertical spectacular" because of its anti-SeaWorld message. But according to the ACLU and PETA, the agency cannot refuse to run PETA's ad since it welcomes ads from other nonprofits and SeaWorld itself.

As a result of the rejection, PETA, represented by its own lawyers and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, has filed a lawsuit against the airport. "While the government has some authority to regulate advertising, this is an example of the government abusing that authority and unfairly discriminating against the message of a specific advertiser," says Sean Riordan, ACLU senior staff attorney. "The First Amendment stands to protect against this kind of viewpoint discrimination."

PETA has been campaigning aggressively against SeaWorld and recently its cruel capture, confinement, and treatment of animals was exposed to millions in the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish. While orcas in the wild travel up to 100 miles per day, SeaWorld confines them to small tanks in chemically treated water. The orcas at SeaWorld also break their teeth and endure chronic pain from snapping and gnawing at the pool gates as a result of stress and aggression. At least 25 orcas have died in SeaWorld facilities since 1986.

"When I was growing up in San Diego, we didn't know better and our folks took us to SeaWorld," says Najimy, who is known for her roles in Sister Act and Hocus Pocus and can be found on King of the Hill and HBO's Veep. "We were blind to the reality that these gorgeous creatures were being abused and belong in their natural habitat. My vegan daughter Samia's generation is well aware of this and would much rather picket SeaWorld than actually go there. If you want a fun day in San Diego, then take your family to Balboa Park and ride the carousel, see a great play at The Old Globe theater, or get naked at Black's Beach and hope you see a regal whale in her natural, compassionate, safe home!"

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