Wes wrote:People will boycott Seaworld until Seaworld builds something their kids want to see/ride.
They did. It was called Antarctica.
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This is an excellent response that really gives light to what Blackfish ignores, which is the massive amounts of good SeaWorld does for marine life.
I think SeaWorld will be fine. Most of the trolls I've come into contact with lately have done no research other than watch the film, and as Jew said, I really feel like this is the new Kony 2012-esque bandwagon thing that will go away eventually.
I've been asked often and recently about my opinions towards this "amazing documentary" that "just came out" on Netflix called "Blackfish". Having worked for SeaWorld for a few years, people are always curious as to what my opinion is.
"Julie, have you seen it? What do you think?"
Yes. I have seen it, multiple times. My opinion of it is this: I completely respect and agree with the underlining message- whales do not belong in captivity... but neither does any other animal (more on that later). I do, however, find the movie's portrayal of SeaWorld to be horribly offensive and misleading. SeaWorld is not a monster.
"But Julie, SeaWorld uses animals for entertainment purposes, isnt this wrong?"
Thank you, PETA. Yes, SeaWorld is an entertainent based industry. People all over the world come to see these marvelous animals up close, eat a churro, and then ride the latest roller coaster.
But before you go all animal activist on me, think about what your saying. Have you ever been to a zoo? Aquarium? Pet store? All of these animals were placed there to entertain, excuse me, educate you. And they dont quite do it to SeaWorld's standards (Ill get to this later).
"But Julie, SeaWorld took these whales out of their natural environment".
False. The majority of the whales at SeaWorld were born in the park. Yes, a few were captured more than 35 years ago, but that is how animals were acquired those days.
And frankly, where do you think the animals at your favorite zoo came from? Contrary to popular belief, these animals are not usually "rescues".
And to be even more frank, how many of you have a home aquarium??? Where do you think these fish came from? That's right. They're captured from their native environment, oftentimes shocked, meanstwhile depleting coral reefs in hopes that these stressed fish might make it to your aquarium, where, lets face it, they usually die.
"But Julie, the tanks the whales are in are like bathtubs"
Ugh. This one gets to me the most. At least use your own wording! Yes, the exhibits the whales are in are no where close to being the size of the ocean. But they are VASTLY larger than the size of most animal enclosures. True, these animals can swim hundreds of miles a day.... but think about other enclosures. Elephants can walk up to 40 miles a day and yet I rarely see an enclosure larger than 2000 ft.
And bird cages? Fish tanks? Why is it that no one is offended by any of this?! It's okay to put a goldfish in a bowl but not okay to have whales in a 60 million gallon environment? An enclosure that SeaWorld has spent over 70 million dollars to improve?
"But Julie, these animals are forced to perform shows. They're slaves."
Inaccurate. The whales at SeaWorld are never forced to do shows. They get an alloted amount of restaurant quality food based off of their fitness level, size, and metabolism. And they are fed regardless of if they do a show.
"But Julie, it's cruel to force these animals to do "tricks".
These "tricks" are actually positively reinforced behaviors that the whales have learned through positive interactions and operant conditioning. Studies have shown that learned behaviors like this actually increase an animals mental health prolonging their fitness and increasing quality of life.
"But whales dont do flips in the wild"
....and your dog doesnt naturally give you his paw when he wants a treat, but he is capable. Training behaviors like this, once again, encourages mental and physical growth. If the whales were incapable, they wouldnt do it.
"Cant they just stop making the whales do shows?"
Sure, but there is no positive reprocussion to that. Without enrichment, whales would resort to common boredom behaviors seen in zoos and institutions around the world. Plus, the interations the whales have with the trainers is a form of bonding for the whales. If they suddenly discontinued, the whales would display depression behaviors. I dont know about you, but I am highly against intentional depression.
"Cant you release them? They'll be happier"
Look up the story of Keiko, the whale from "Free Willy." That's what happens when you release a captive killer whale. They are not equipped to live in the open ocean environment anymore.
"Okay, what about a seapen then? Its bigger and the whales would be interact with their natural environment"
These whales currently thrive in multi-sourced continually filtered water environment. These means they are never exposed to pathogens, parasites, or heavily contaminated water. Putting them in a sea pen would expose them to a variety of potentially killer organisms. Not only that but they would be exposed to countless amounts of new sights, sounds, and vibrantions, causing an immense amount of stress.
"But Julie, there is absolutely no benefit to having these poor creatures at SeaWorld."
SeaWorld has impacted the lives of over 400 million visitors over the timespan they've been in business. That is 400 million people that have been affected by the beauty of not only the killer whales, but of over 6000 species of animals they would not come in contact with on a normal basis.
"SeaWorld is not educational".
Excuse me? The top leading research done on both killer whales and other cetaceans comes from SeaWorld sponsored research. Most of what we know today about these animals has been learned from animals in captivity.
"Cant we learn simply by observing them in the wild?"
Theoretically, sure. But any scientist (or grad student) will tell you how difficult it is to study animals in the wild. You can sit and observe 24 hours a day and only witness about 15 minutes of usable data.
And good luck funding that research. It's an unfortunate fact that people do not support things that do not benefit them directly. SeaWorld contributes millions upon millions of dollars to variety of conservation programs in the wild, including the Marine Mammal protecion act and Sea Turtle conservation. Finding funding from a private, independent source is unlikely and unreliable.
"Okay... well... umm... what about the dorsal fin thing?"
Dorsal fins are made out of cartilage, a flexible structure that makes up your nose and ears. The size of the dorsal fin is cause by a multitude of things, including genetics. Many of our whales come from a similar bloodline (not crossbred) and therefore have larger dorsal fins.
Although not common in the wild, a whale's dorsal fin, especially larger ones, may bend. This may be an effect from more surface exposure combined by genetics. There have been no indications that this affects the animals well-being in any way. It's a fact of life. Sometimes we get droopy body parts too....
"Why can't SeaWorld just go to be all educational? Obviously people would respect it more."
Nature Centers and educational facilities are amazing ideas and do many great things. Unfortunately, not many people go out of their way to visit them and they can go out of business (Chula Vista Nature Center...anyone?). People, unfortunately, are selfish beings. They want to be entertained, not lectured. So although the conservation message is taught at many of these amazing facilities, they are not affecting as many people as you would think.
SeaWorld's message is this: to celebrate, connect, and care for the natural world we share through the power of entertainment. People come into the parks with an expectation and leave with an appreciation of marine life they've never had before. I cannot begin to tell you how many kids Ive heard say that Shamu changed their life. That they want to stop polluting the ocean. That they want to save the sea turtles. SeaWorld is a memory that they will have forever and oftentimes changes their entire outlook on life.
So, before you boycott SeaWorld, realize that you're not boycotting the evil corporation "Blackfish" makes it out to be. You're boycotting Bruce, the 80 year old sea turtle who was rescued not only once, but twice after being shot in the head and left for dead by people who didn't care. You're boycotting Iris, the rescued seal who was found stranded and blind and then rereleased, able to see again. You're boycotting the 650 juvenille sea lions rehabilitated and taught to eat after they were stranded on the Pacific Coast. You're boycotting the baby emperor pengiuns, just hatched, ensuring the future families of penguins to come. You're boycotting the hundreds of dogs adopted from shelters thanks to Pets Rule. You're boycotting the group of high schoolers collecting trash off the shoreline after talking to the veterinary department behind the scenes and seeing the effects of trash in our ocean.
If you need a summary of what SeaWorld is today, I ask you to look at me as a reflection. To look at the 1500 zoological team members that provide the upmost care to these animals. SeaWorld is one of the worlds most respected zoological facilities, setting the bar for husbandry standards today. We are SeaWorld. We are the people who cant drive by a lost dog on the street. We're the people who stay awake overnight, waist deep in frigid water carrying a stranded dolphin that wasn't strong enough to swim. We're the ones that cry the moment a sea turtle swims off into the ocean water after being hit by a boat. We are the ones whose heart rate accelerates the moment a mother gives birth to a beautiful calf. We're the ones whose muscles ache after scrubbing oil off of birds trapped after a spill. We're the ones hand feeding that abandonded baby otter in the wee hours of the night.
So once again, don't believe everything you see and don't assume you know everything because a "documentary" tells you so. Educate yourself. SeaWorld is not the enemy, there are bigger evils in the world. We do not go out of our way to torture and "enslave" animals. We love and know more about those animals than "Blackfish" would ever care to let you know. It is because of SeaWorld, and places like them, thst you even care about these animals in the first place. I am very proud to be a part of the SeaWorld family and always will be." /Quote/
Such a lie. Orcas at Seaworld are not all from the same bloodline. Dorsal fin bending is NOT a natural thing. It is a sign of distress, we all know the truth that the whales aren't happy at Seaworld, they would be much more happier in the ocean.
geaugadan wrote:Maybe an unpopular view here, but is it not possible that SeaWorld is simply on the wrong side of history?
This is just my opinion but honestly, no. I think people are trying to turn this into something it's not to make themselves feel like they're fighting for a cause that's much more important than it actually is. They're trying to draw parallels to things that are infinitely worse than this will ever be (like slavery).
Animal cruelty is horrible and should be and is treated very seriously. I just don't think what SeaWorld is doing could be considered "Animal Cruelty" in any way, shape or form. Based on that response that was posted a few pages back and a lot of other responses that have come out over the last few weeks it seems like they treat the animals very well. The fact that the pro-SeaWorld people are acknowledging criticism from anti-SeaWorld people while the Blackfish people have no interest in even hearing the other side of the story leads me to believe that the pro-SeaWorld people are much more credible.
I honestly feel like people are just starved for attention and want to feel like they're doing something important even though they're really not. If they wanted to make a difference there are a million better causes they could be supporting but they wouldn't get the same amount of attention since this is the issue CNN has decided to make a big deal about and report on.
coasterbill wrote:The fact that the pro-SeaWorld people are acknowledging criticism from anti-SeaWorld people while the Blackfish people have no interest in even hearing the other side of the story leads me to believe that the pro-SeaWorld people are much more credible.
This. Exactly. Well said.
One of my friends who works closely with SeaWorld trainers wrote me this, and I think it sums up things perfectly:
Fact. The blackfish side is strictly focusing only on the problems of the past. SeaWorld is strictly focusing on the solutions of the future. That's the difference between haters and lovers.
Last edited by robbalvey on Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:49 am.
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