This has been a difficult post for me to compose. I feel like a traitor, yet here I am… letting the world know:
I WENT TO SEAWORLD
Back in the 70’s I attended a “Save the Whales” rally in Sacramento. My brother was a whale enthusiast, we bought the t-shirts, signed the petitions and otherwise participated in the effort to “Save the Whales.” He was even a whale for Halloween! In my mind, our protest was about the harpoon, and the killing. Not the capture and training of these giants. As a matter of fact, for my 10 year old self, saving (capturing) these beasts – even to live in a “fish bowl,” was certainly helping them.
Fast Forward 45 years…
And then there’s Blackfish. I didn’t see the movie, I probably would’ve had puffy eyes for a month. I know the horrors uncovered. I’d presume similar horrors could be found in any zoo, aquarium or circus. With such profound visual evidence, it’s hard to believe that there just might be another side to the story.
I did some exploring on the Google.
I discovered a tremendous amount of opinions, facts, and maybe what we call now, alternative facts. SeaWorld posted a 69 point rebuttal to the movie Blackfish. Then, those points had subsequently been countered by the creators of Blackfish. I also read the Brancheau Family’s personal response to the movie. (Dawn Brancheau’s death was the central focus of the movie Blackfish.) Their bottom line: “Blackfish is not Dawn’s story. Dawn Brancheau believed in the ethical treatment of animals… She loved the whales and was proud of her work as a trainer.”
I think I came clean at the start: I went to SeaWorld. There was so much to offer beyond the sea mammal experience. It’s a full-on theme park. Clearly steps have been taken to move the theme park’s focus from “whale shows” to other things, like thrill rides. I also found countless evidence of environmental education, and ocean conservation awareness. They had a show created with house pets, all rescued from local shelters – super cute!
My Final Thoughts
It hurts my heart that any wild animal lives in captivity. However, I also believe that a wild animal in captivity can serve an invaluable educational purpose, and provides experiences that build not only on awareness and appreciation, but a passion to conserve them.
So, let me share, take a look at what SeaWorld (Orlando) looks like today: