Published September 29, 2011
A Florida mother whose 21-year-old son survived a shark attack last week says a planned PETA campaign in response to the incident is "over the top."
But Ella Wickersham, of Longboat Key, Fla., told FoxNews.com she will not give the proposed billboard by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- "Payback Is Hell, Go Vegan" -- any thought since her focus is on the recovery of her 21-year-old son, C.J. Wickersham, who remains in stable condition after being bitten by a bull shark on Saturday while spear-fishing near Florida's Anna Marie Island.
"I'm not even going to dignify them with a response," she told FoxNews.com. "It's not even worth my response. They are over the top. If they don't want to eat meat and fish, good for them; you can do whatever you want, and I'll do what I want."
Wickersham said her son received up to 800 stitches to close the gaping wound on his left thigh.
Ashley Byrne, a spokeswoman for PETA, said the animal rights group is still trying to find a place to post the billboard in Manatee County after not finding any suitable locations in Anna Marie Island. She said PETA is in continuing talks with outdoor advertising companies to post the billboard, which features a bloody leg hanging out of a shark's mouth.
"We're still trying to find the best spot that would give maximum exposure at the best rates," Byrne told FoxNews.com. "With the shark attack in the news, we thought it'd be a good time to remind people that sharks are not the world's biggest predator -- we are."
Byrne said Americans kill 12 billion fish annually for food.
"People have the choice to be kind every time they sit down to a meal," she continued. "We hope the billboard will lead to Floridians choosing a healthy vegan diet."
Byrne said the billboard is intended to save lives, both animal and human.
"We're glad that Mr. Wickersham is going to be OK," she said. "We hope that after this experience he considers the pain and terror that fish feel when they are impaled and suffocated to death."