So after last night’s TV showing of BlackFish – a documentary about killer whales in captivity, alot of people are talking about SeaWorld and how they are answering to the criticism.
I’m glad that Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of “Blackfish” made this documentary because I think this is a conversation worth hearing about, and certainly worth having. The crux of the matter is really this – is it right (morally at least) to have animals in captvity in places like Zoos and aquariums? Watch #BlackFish
With some heavy consideration, I think the answer is a clear YES and NO. Yes, I do agree with the counterpoint that some of these places (well, Zoos specifically) have an intrinsic value of allowing us to get a peek of nature and animals that we could normally never see, unless we were living well enough to afford a nature vacation or travel to distant lands on safari.
Most of us clearly can’t, but we can certainly afford to visit a local zoo and see what the lions, tigers, and bears are doing. I also think that yes, there is a conservancy element to this that we cannot ignore either. These zoos often bring many of the stories and plights of these animals home, so that by creating awareness, we can raise our voices when we find out that some animals are being abused for profit (think about wild elephants being culled for their tusks, lions being abused by a traveling circus, etc). While some of the more savage images of tusks being sold at auctions overseas is more common, I think that the abusive traveling circuses of the old days are long gone, regulation forces companies to employ qualified caretakers to oversee these animals.
What’s left is the moral debate, as to wether or not we think that keeping animals in captivity is ok, and how do we effectively evaluate their conditions and they WHY part, and if that WHY is more profit-driven or if it’s altruistic. I think the baseline has to be if the zoo or acquarium can effectively create an enivronment that is parallel or equal to that of that given animal’s natural habitat.
In the case of the Killer Whales at SeaWorld, the answer is easy to answer. You can’t even touch a whale’s regular/natural environment (the ocean), with any kind of controlled environment like a large tank. You can’t, it’s that simple. The videos of these whales being ripped from their families is apalling, to say that these intelligent animals don’t understand what happened is an outright lie. You can hear a little whale crying for it’s mother the whole time. SeaWorld contends that these capitive animals all have each other as family, but that’s bushit!
We do know that in their natural habitat, whales typically live in very tight-knit circles with their actual family. So how is trading a life with the family wandering the ocean equal to a mega fish tank? It doesn’t.
I think the only way a company like a SeaWorld can effectively balance their needs with the rights of the animals is to cordon off an area around Florida and try to have glass-bottom boats that ride around and try to show everyone these animals in their natural state. Not making a Killer Whale do tricks for for fish treats in a theme park.
The Blackfish documentary certainly has to be looked at with some objectivity, and to that you can glean that SeaWorld obviously has done a bit to protect its image, and in the end their bottom line. I think their actions are shameless, in that they blamed a trainer for her own death (how callous can you be)? But their enterprises will continue to run as usual until enough people decide that the message isn’t right.
I have taken my children to SeaWorld and we’ve sat in awe of those Killer Whales while they were jumping in and out of the water; my kids loved every minute of it. Now that I’ve seen the truth about this, I will never go there again. I will never again contribute monetarily to an enterprise that keeps these animals in those tanks, especially when I know that the whales are dying inside. Performing out in the open during the day, stuck in a small water cage at night.
If you need proof that these animals aren’t happy, look at their curved dorsal fins. This happens only in captivity, and it’s a sign not to be ignored. I’m somewhat claustrophobic, as I’m a big guy and I hate being in small spaces, I can only imagine what these 12,000 lb whales might think or feel when they are forced to live in a swimming pool, when “home” is really an ocean.
I think it’s time we take a look at this and make some meaningful changes. Hollywood and technology have come so far, whose to say we can make a robot version that SeaWorld can parade around?
By Louis Wing