Chants rang out from a group of protesters as they marched along the borderline of SeaWorld property, encouraging people to choose "compassion over cruelty" and "go whale watching instead." Several passionate activists led on bullhorns, explaining to SeaWorld customers why captivity is so wrong. One family, after seeing the protesters and reading a leaflet, marked by a photo of captive orca Lolita's tragic capture (Lolita is held in Miami Seaquarium) questioned the morality of SeaWorld. Their children were crying and the parents were staring at the leaflet with an expression of horror as they finished their day visiting SeaWorld. I chanted, "Captivity kills, go whale watching instead!" as I passed by. They stared at me and stepped into the car and drove away. Hopefully they will not be back again until SeaWorld changes its business model.
But why is holding cetaceans in captivity so cruel?
Orcas live far shorter in captivity than they do in the wild, rarely living over the age of 25 (the ones that are were captured in the wild), and are trapped in a small, confined environment facing extreme stress (they are given tagamet, a stress pill, on a regular basis) and a forced social structure. It is no wonder these magnificent creatures, who have only attacked a human in one instance in the wild, have attacked their trainers. They are psychologically distressed.
Orkid, one of the captive-born orcas at SeaWorld San Diego, has attacked trainers on multiple occasions. She had to watch her mother, Kandu V, die when she was less than a year old (, and her father Orky II died when she was only three years old. Kandu attempted to rake Corky II (both orcas were captured from different geographic locations and behaved poorly together) and fractured her jaw and severed several arteries. (The Vindicator newspaper). For weeks after her mother's death, Orkid would circle around the pool, calling out and vocalizing in distress.
I don't know about you, but losing both of my parents at such a young age would affect me. Orkid is just one example and one situation out of many captive cetaceans who have undergone immense stress - would not you feel psychotic after being torn from your family (SeaWorld captured orcas until the mid-80s) and confined in prison?
Many still go to SeaWorld because they do not understand the mental and physical trauma not only orcas, but all captive cetaceans are forced to endure. How is SeaWorld educational when people are paying for their children to watch "shamu" suffer?
Thanks to the documentary Blackfish, the cruelty behind SeaWorld has been made public and support is growing to change SeaWorld's business model and give cetaceans the rights they deserve.
Though SeaWorld is helpful to the local economy and engages in some helpful conservation efforts, it does not excuse the abuse and torment cetaceans suffer in these concrete prisons for entertainment.
We will never give up until no more cetaceans are held behind concrete walls and gain the rights they, and all sentient beings, deserve.
Throughout history, freedom has always been fought for and in the end obtained. It is sad this vicious cycle of pain and suffering must repeat, but change is coming and people are learning. If there is one thing history has shown, it is that activists never give up until they achieve what they are fighting for. As Chavez said, "we shall endure."
The next protest will be on April 20th. Please show your support and join us!
Photo credit: Alison Banks, Genelle Palacio
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P.S. SeaWorld - We are not buying your lies anymore.
P.P.S. SeaWorld...why haven't you said anything about Taiji?