Dolphins and Otters and Whales, Oh My! A Response to the “SeaWorld Issue”
A few days ago, SeaWorld released some very significant news. The generations of killer whales that they have will be the last generations of whales that will be in the parks. Meaning, they will no longer be breeding killer whales in their parks. People have some very mixed feelings about this issue, but most do agree that this is a good decision on SeaWorld’s part. This is mainly due to things like the movie Blackfish, and websites like “seaworldofhurt.com” which use expert opinions and testimony from former employees to show how the park mistreats its whales. SeaWorld is trying to combat this, however. It seems that every other commercial or so (at least where I live), there is always an ad for SeaWorld, from the point of view of current employees and veterinarians, talking about all the work that SeaWorld does. While I applaud their efforts in this, it simply isn’t enough to change public opinion. People probably see five times as many “bad” articles and ads as they do “good,” and most people are not inclined to do any further research. They simply read the headline, and take it for its word.
In actuality, SeaWorld is the best animal care facility in the world. Their animals receive the best care possible in captivity, and even though SeaWorld does research on their own animals, they have donated millions of dollars towards research of wild species of animals. They have also personally rescued, rehabilitated, and released over 20,000 animals. Even with this, the issue of whether or not the halt on the breeding program is a good or bad thing should be considered carefully.
GOOD THING: Due to organizations like PETA and the humane society, the consensus by most people is that SeaWorld shouldn’t have killer whales in captivity in the first place, and that they wrongly took killer whales from the wild for entertainment purposes back in the 1970’s, turning the whales into virtual slaves.
BAD THING: Killer whales in captivity add to the information that we know about killer whales in the wild. Why? Because scientists are able to get “up close and personal” to captive killer whales in ways that could never be possible with wild ones.
While we may never know how the whales felt about being brought into captivity in the 1970’s, this was seen as a perfectly decent thing to do at the time. SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales from the wild, and hasn’t done in over 40 years. With this in mind, out of the 23 whales currently living at SeaWorld parks, only 5 were captured from the wild. In addition, most of the scientific information that we know about killer whales as a whole is because of research done with SeaWorld’s whales, and if there is no more killer whales in captivity for us to study, how to we expect to care for wild killer whales in the future? Furthermore, if SeaWorld stops the breeding programs of killer whales, who can say that they won’t stop the breeding program for dolphins, or sea lions, or any of the other species they have? SeaWorld is an important organization for the future of animals, both captive and wild, because when a child can see a whale, or a seal at a park like SeaWorld, they are more likely to care about that same animal into their adult lives, and thus, their species are more likely to thrive in future generations.
Although there are multiple sources out there (including this one) that will try to say whether SeaWorld is right or wrong, the most important thing to do is look at the issues from an objective point of view and do your own research. The more educated you are about these issues, the more you’ll be able to make an informed decision for yourself. Also, don’t always follow the opinions of the crowd, because they too can get it wrong.
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