When is a tank not a tank – when it’s a tank?
SeaWorld’s attempt to reverse its downward fortunes by announcing plans to construct multi-million dollar bigger orca tank may be too little, too late!
Despite a massive decline in their stock price in the last 12 months which some, including Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, directly attribute to the “Blackfish Effect”, management of the struggling entertainment company claim that the decline in attendance is “temporary”.
However, the film, Blackfish, appears to have irreversibly tarnished SeaWorld’s “enduring brand”, by exposing the truths behind the captive cetacean industry: the horrors of wild capture, dubious animal management and, reportedly, one hundred incidents of trainers being attacked. Since orca were first displayed at SeaWorld, San Diego, 15 orcas have died.
I think SeaWorld needs to completely review their entertainment offering, abandon the display of orca and other cetaceans and embrace a new vision based on compassionate conservation and supporting the keeping of wildlife in the wild. In my view, their current proposal is simply throwing good money after bad.
SeaWorld San Diego’s ‘bigger tanks’ announcement claims that the new facility is “not just larger but more dynamic”, adding that it will include “a lot more of the kind of mental and physical stimulation that we know is so important for overall health and well-being”. But representatives were quick to clarify that this was not an admission that current housing is too small.
The reality is that no matter the size of a man-made tank, it will still be a fraction of the size of the wild range of orca, for an intelligent, gregarious marine mammal which can swim 150 kilometers a day.
SeaWorld may consider the announced changes as “revolutionary”, but Born Free cannot agree. Monies injected into trying to improve the customer experience does not change the orca’s experience. SeaWorld must realise that the use of animals in circus-style tricks is not conservation, nor does it demonstrate the “relationship between humans and animals” as SeaWorld claims. The practice of keeping wild animals in captivity is outdated and morally wrong. It should be consigned to the history books.
If SeaWorld would like to talk to me about a new future where freedom, respect, compassion, conservation and education are components of a vision we can all be proud of then call me, my door is always open.