I won’t go into great detail about how bad Sea World is, you can always watch the documentary: Blackfish (It is available on Netflix!) or read John Hargrove’s Book: Beneath the Surface (he is a former Seal World trainer who had the courage to speak out). There is also a Ted Ex talk that you can watch by Dr. Naomi A. Rose (a Marine Mammal Scientist ) titled: Let’s Throw Shamu a Retirement Party (It’s on Youtube). And there are many, many articles you can find on Google and read them. (You can also check out an older post of mine here)
Now many like to say who cares about Sea World when there are many dolphins and whales, as well as many other species in the wild that need help. This is true. We are hurting our oceans and need to do more to protect these species (one way you can help is by donating to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation). But that DOES NOT mean the lives in Sea World do not matter. EVERY LIFE MATTERS! To say one is more important that the other is just wrong. Just because there are more Orcas in the wild, doesn’t mean the ones in Sea World don’t matter. They are just as important.
The Orcas in Sea World are not okay. They do not have enough space, nothing can compare to the size of the ocean. They are very family oriented, each pod has it’s own language and culture. There are Hybrid Orcas in Sea World that would NEVER exist in the wild because the two pods would have never met or mated with one another! Incest would never occur in the wild and Orcas at Sea World are forced to breed when they are too young (often at 2 or 3 years, in the wild, it wouldn’t be until they are 12 or 13)! The Orcas in Sea World are so mixed, many can’t even communicate with each other because they are from two different worlds!
How would you feel if someone took your child from you, locked them a cage, forced to do magic tricks for the rest of their life or they won’t be fed? You probably would be outraged. This is also how Orcas feel. Many mothers will follow the boats of their captive young, both crying out to one another until eventually , he mother has to give up. Orca mothers and calves separated in captivity often cry for weeks after their baby is taken from them and shipped away to some other theme park.
Now imagine being that child, being taken from your mother, being forced to perform for a bunch of people because they’ll only feed you if you do what you are told. You have to do that four times a day for the rest of your life. You are caged with someone that you don’t know and who doesn’t speak your language. You’d feel pretty much alone. It doesn’t matter if these Orcas have other Orcas around, they are still alone because that other Orca is not one of them. It would be like if you took an English speaking person and put them in a room full of only Japanese, Spanish, French, etc speakers. Don’t matter if there are other people there, they won’t know what is going on, and will feel pretty much alone.
Knowing what I know now I will NEVER take any of my future kids, grand-kids (hopefully by then there won’t be Orcas in Sea World, and hopefully no dolphins either!), anyone to Sea World. I will never go again. I won’t let them grow up with the lies, and so they may never see an Orca in their life? So what? I’ve never seen a Blue Whale, Great White Shark, Giant Squid, Narwhal, Red-Faced Spider Monkey, Bonobos, Kagu, etc... in person and I’m alright! I’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, and I’m still okay! We have documentaries, books, the Internet for crying out loud! There is even a phone app in the works about Orcas!
We don’t and can’t see everything with our own eyes, there is just too much in the world and we live such short lives! Plus very few of us could even afford to see everything. In the end I’d rather my kids never see an Orca, than see one that is suffering due to corporate greed. (To anyone who thinks Sea World cares about their animals, they don’t. It is a corporation based on greed, all they care about is the money.)
I am also against dolphins, belugas, and any other large family oriented sea animal being in captivity, but I believe if we win the the battle on freeing Orcas, the rest will follow shortly. (I am also against swimming with dolphin programs.)
So what do I want to have happen to the Orcas in Sea World, they obviously can’t go back to the wild, right? Well yes and no. The Orcas in Sea World should be retired to a sea pen. A sea pen is a netted off cove or bay. It will give the Orcas a natural, large environment, but they will also be protected from the wild. This would be great for both the Orcas and Sea World. Sea World can charge people to go and see the Orcas in this sea pen. The Orcas will no longer have to preform and can live the rest of their lives in a more natural, comfortable environment. It’s a win-win!
Now why am I not against zoos? Well I’m not against all animals in captivity. The problem with Orcas is that they are very family oriented and are intelligent animals, they are basically like us, they don’t belong in captivity. They have proven that they don’t do well, collapsed dorsal fins are proof of that. They have even killed people (you would go crazy too if you were kept in a bathtub), something a wild Orca has never done.
Many animals aren’t as intelligent or family oriented as dolphins/Orcas and do just fine. Also, there are some animals that we might only see in zoos one day like the Polar Bear or Panda. And there are some zoos that have/had breeding programs to help wild species increase their numbers and prevent extinction, such as California Condors and Black-Footed Ferrets.
Sea World is a corporation, a lot of Zoos are privately or publicly funded. They are not big businesses. Their money goes to the animals in their care, not to some CEO. Now not all Zoos are good, so you have to be cautious as to which ones you go to and support. Observe how much space they give their animals, how they treat their animals, check to see if they have a breeding program and what it is used for, and always do your own research before going to a zoo.
Animals can't speak our language, so it is up to us to be their voices.
Attribution: Image used in blog post photo was found on MorgueFile.