The tide is turning on the practice of keeping dolphins and whales in captivity for entertainment, so where will we head next? Movies like The Cove and Free Willy began to highlight the horror of captivity for the cetaceans and challenged us to rethink our role, as humans, in the treatment of them. Animal activists such as, Peta, Sea Shepard, and Cove Guardians, plug away at trying to eliminate the cruel practices head on. Then along comes a movie, Blackfish, a documentary made by an everyday woman, a mother, that ignites chatter worldwide about the harsh reality of this form of entertainment on not only killer whales, but on humans, as well.
It seems safe to say that a line has been drawn in the sand between those who “get it” and those who don’t. Those who “get it”, that keeping air breathing mammals, capable of intelligent thinking and displaying deep emotion, in concrete fishbowls or fenced in sea pens, to entertain us, is inhumane. Those who don’t, clamor behind excuses such as ‘research’ and ‘rescue’, when the real threat to leaving these animals wild, is a big loss in dollars. As those who ‘get it’ become more conscious of where they spend their money, those who don’t will have a choice to come aboard and change or watch their financial portfolios wash away.
Parents will continue to seek entertainment for their children. Who doesn’t like to see a kid smile or hear them laugh? The question will be, where will they take them? The race is on and it’s an exciting time to be part of the brainstorming process, to visualize the next version of an entertainment park. Gone will be zoos and aquariums housing live animals. Non-breeding sanctuaries will grow to house those animals that unfortunately cannot be returned to the wild: clawless, toothless, and dependent on antibiotics. New models that we have never seen featuring virtual, interacting imagery will take their place. Imagine being immersed in a real life ocean scene where even megalodons swim by you. Airline pilots and astronauts train on simulated technology, why can’t we educate and entertain using the same? Return of the Dino has created an interactive exhibit that kids love. If we can bring dinosaurs 'back to life', why not do the same for whales, dolphins and other sentient beings and leave the live ones in their natural homes? Captain Paul Watson, from Sea Shepard, has outlined his out of the box ideas for his vision of the modern aquarium .
As you look to the future, what do you see? What would you pay to bring your child to?