A few years back I was one of the Seaworld Six, a group of bloggers invited to visit the Seaworld parks in Florida and blog about our experiences. I enjoyed Aquatica, with its water slides; I was less keen on Discovery Cove, where the dolphins were far too big (I’ve seen them in the wild); and ironically, the part of our trip I enjoyed least was Seaworld itself.
For me, there were two images that I just couldn’t get out of my head; the first was of a polar bear, born and raised in captivity, living in total isolation in what equated to a large tank; heartbreaking.
And the second was the killer whales.
If you’ve seen or heard of the movie Blackfish, you’ll know that killer whales in captivity are often taken from their mothers as babies; their mothers cry for their babies long after they’ve gone. Killer whales have a complicated infrastructure very similar to our own, and they feel emotional loss as acutely as we do; they also swim for miles every day when they’re out in the ocean. When they’re free.
To me, there is no justification for keeping killer whales in captivity, to ‘entertain’ theme park goers, where they can’t swim freely or interact with their pods as they would in the wild. That’s not conservation, it’s cruelty. They are spectacular mammals but we don’t need them performing tricks and living in enclosed spaces to be able to understand them. I’m glad my son wasn’t on the trip to Seaworld, because I believe we should respect wildlife, and I want him to see animals in their natural habitat, not confined and miserable. I don’t want that on my conscience. Do you?