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The Body of Animal Rights Campaigners and Peta2 hosted the “I, Orca” empathy project at UCF's Student Union patio Friday to push the end of SeaWorld ticket sales on campus.

The “I, Orca” empathy project uses Google virtual reality goggles to immerse participants in a world where they can swim freely in the ocean with an orca family and learn how orcas suffer physically and psychologically in SeaWorld’s tanks of chemically treated water, according to a press release.

Hunter Menning, a senior majoring in business management and the campus representative for Peta2, said they have collected about 1,000 signatures on a petition so far since last year.

“Animals kept in captivity are kept in horrible conditions,” Menning said. “Orcas, for example ... are kept in chemically treated waters and small tanks that, to us, is comparable to the size of a bathtub.

“They face a lot of emotional and physical stress. We don’t believe students or anyone should support a park or organization that uses those practices."

Menning also said a viable for SeaWorld would be to focus entirely on conservation. As opposed to theme parks, he suggested that SeaWorld establishes seaside sanctuaries so rescued Orcas can be kept in a more natural habitat. These sanctuaries would be fenced off and as expansive as they could be.

“Currently, [SeaWorld] uses a very small amount of profit for rehab and rescue, and it’s such a small facet of their organization,” Menning said. “We believe that the support for the park would go back if they would just turn into a rehab and rescue.”

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Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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