It is a well-known fact that Kim Kardashian and her family are no strangers to controversy. From Kim’s troubled relationships to her dubious rise to fame, Kim’s celebrity seems to attract more negative attention than positive. It appears the Kardashians live by the old adage “any press is good press.” They seem to shy away from none of it. One of Kim Kardashian’s most fervent detractors is the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, and she appears to be in hot water with them once again, this time over her recent trip to Mexico.
Last week on a trip to Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Kardashian posted Instagram pictures and video of her swimming with captive dolphins, also taking her infant daughter North West into the dolphin pen with her. The images incited PETA to respond quickly, with charges that swimming with the dolphins is dangerous for both dolphins and the humans swimming with them. PETA called Kardashian irresponsible for posting the pictures and videos, with criticism coming all the way from the top of the organization.
The Kardashians and PETA have a long and storied history. Originally, the family had a good relationship with the animal rights group, with younger sister Khloe posing in the famous “I’d Rather Go Naked” ads. Soon after, however, Kim was spotted wearing fur, and though she never took PETA’s “Fur-Free Pledge,” a woman threw flour on the celebrity in retaliation. Though it was never proven that the “flour bomb” incident was tied to PETA, Khloe withdrew her support of the group and PETA declared its support for the action.
Kim Kardashian is not the only celebrity to get into hot water with PETA for wearing fur or supporting industries known to abuse animals. Lady Gaga is another star who participated in PETA’s “I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign before showing up on the red carpet at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in a dress made entirely of meat. PETA denounced Gaga for the stunt, and now the Gaga and the animal rights group regularly trade jabs in the press. PETA has also publicly criticized Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour for featuring fur in her magazine, as well as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce Knowles for claiming to be vegan yet still wearing fur.
Since the flour incident, there has been quite a bit of press back and forth between the Kardashians and PETA, and it seems the group has been watching Kim and her family, or at the very least following them on Instagram. PETA Vice President Lisa Lange responded to Kardashian’s video soon after it was posted, criticizing the celebrity for promoting the cruelty PETA says such activities perpetuate.
Many tourist destinations offer “dolphin experiences,” and companies such as Vallarta Adventures, the company who provided the service to Kim, make money by charging people to swim with, hug and even ride trained dolphins. This activity was generally considered mild and not a threat to animal welfare, but has garnered more criticism recently after the release of the movie Blackfish. The documentary, released in 2013, highlighted the cramped and unhappy conditions it says performing marine mammals are subjected to, as well as the potential safety hazard to the trainers employed by companies like Sea World and others.
Despite being in hot water with PETA, it does not seem as though Kim Kardashian aims to change her ways. While there has been no response to PETA’s most recent criticism from the Kardashian camp, the whole family has made it clear that they do not support PETA, and Kim continues to be a proponent of all things fur.
Opinion by Layla Klamt