I admit it. I have been to Seaworld and at the time loved it. I was much younger and the Orcas performing in the Shamu show were extensions of all the family pets I knew, loved, and played with. I had no idea what the Orcas lives were like after I left the park. I look back and question why I didn’t question how those killer whales got in those tanks. Why I didn’t wonder if their fish bowl was big enough for them. Or do they really like eating frozen fish?
Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me
The movie Blackfish, cemented a thought that had already begun shifting in my mind. After volunteering with dolphins and whales in an ‘educational’ captivity aquarium and in the wild, I learned that dolphins and whales are not just big fish. Dolphins and whales are mammals, like us. Evidence shows they are more emotionally intelligent than we are. Having a wild dolphin choose to swim with me in the open ocean, multiple times, allowed me a glimpse into this intelligence and changed me forever.
I assumed, and gave Seaworld the benefit of the doubt, that they would be enlightened and spearhead the change in how we see dolphins and whales. I was willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt, maybe like I, they didn’t know any better at the time, but were willing to right a wrong. As I wrote in a previous blog, Seaworld has in immense opportunity now. Seaworld, however, has given minimal response to the documentary Blackfish and their treatment of these cetaceans.
Try and Fool Me Three Times
Tweetstorms, protests, even a call from Newt Gingrich for Seaworld to explain, or at least answer the intense fury created by Blackfish in a way that would help the millions who are disheartened by their treatment of the animals, essentially went unanswered. Instead, they hold steady and continue to promote their model; Macy’s Seaworld float, Groupon offer, and propose a BBQ festival with famous artists playing.
The musicians, however, had a change of heart too. Barenaked Ladies cancelled their appearance. Seaworld reportedly offered them in inside tour to show them what they stand for. What about the rest of us? Then Willie Nelson cancelled his tour. And this is when Seaworld nailed the final nail in the coffin for me. Seaworld’s PR team claimed Willie Nelson’s cancellation was due to scheduling issues. Kudos to Mr. Nelson who came out and voiced his real intention with CNN saying, “What they do at Seaworld is not ok.”
I questioned Seaworld’s integrity when they claimed it was Dawn Brancheau’s ponytail that got her killed, especially after watching Blackfish. It seems to me they don’t care about integrity or the animals in their care. So, as they say in Shark Tank, “I’m Out”.
My hope going forward is that a compassionate entrepreneur will create a Virtual Aquarium/Zoo. If kids of all ages will visit a Disney park where the main character is a mouse character, I have no doubt they will go to a park that is all make believe animals while the real ones live free.
If you haven’t seen the documentary Blackfish yet, you can order it on dvd at Amazon.com