Remember PETA and ‘Sea Kittens’?

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Today’s blog may have little to do with boating, but as a member of PETA — no, not People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals but, rather, People Eating Tasty Animals — I just can’t ignore the humor in the animal rights group’s insistence that baseball’s Cleveland Indians add a vegan hot dog to its roster of mascots.

If you’ve been to a Major League Baseball game, you’ve likely witnessed these so-called mascots racing between innings. At Cleveland’s Progressive Field, I’ve always enjoyed watching the Onion, the Ketchup and the Mustard entertain with their on-field antics during Indians games. The Onion usually wins the race, perhaps, ahem, because he or she made the others cry.

Regardless, if PETA is successful, a vegan hot dog could be joining the lineup.

What likely opened the door for this call to add a vegan wiener is the Indians officially changing their name to the Cleveland Guardians, effective next season. The Cleveland team was one of the American League’s eight charter franchises in 1901, known then as the Bluebirds. (It became the Indians in 1915.) But 120 years later, PETA is petitioning this iconic ball club to “continue the spirit of inclusivity” by adding a vegan hot dog to the mascot derby.

“Pigs, cows and turkeys used for hot dogs value their lives and don’t deserve to become a stadium snack, so let’s go to bat for them,” says PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in a statement. “PETA hopes the team will introduce a delightful vegan wiener in a win for animals, the environment and the health of its fans.”

Moreover, Newkirk indicated her organization would ante up for the costume and buy veggie franks for all the Cleveland ball players as an incentive.

While I’m on PETA, it’s apparent that more than a baseball mascot is front and center for an organization that’s so skilled at casting off-the-wall proposals and reeling in lots of publicity — even in this blog.

And there’s another PETA target in Cleveland. Its protesters have been picketing in front of the American Greetings headquarters.

PETA members are demanding that the greeting card giant stop using images of chimpanzees and great apes on its cards. “These photos undermine conservation efforts that are essential to protecting the species in the wild,” said Jonathan Horn, one of six campaigners wearing ape masks, holding signs and standing on the sidewalk.

PETA’s claim is that the primate images mislead consumers into thinking chimpanzees are plentiful. That can drive up the black market for these animals as pets. Who knew?

PETA is very good at seizing opportunities to get what it really wants — publicity — and publicity ultimately raises money.

I’m reminded of a PETA campaign that advocated fish be renamed “sea kittens.” After all, the group declared, fish are caught on hooks, and those hooks hurt, but no one would ever want to hook or eat a kitten. Sure enough, it got tons of publicity. But the sea kitten label never got traction, especially among us anglers.

In the unlikely event that the effort make a comeback, I want to set the record straight: I love my sea kittens deep fried.


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