Captive is Captive No Matter How You Look at It
~ Samantha Lewis
When it comes to the saving of a species – whether that be plantlife or wildlife – obstacles arise around every corner. For every no-kill shelter opened, five more dolphins seem to die in a net somewhere. For every person who helps in the courts bring down the ‘bad guys’ who kill the Black Rhino for a horn, or the Great White for some ridiculous million-dollar soup, there seems to be five more ‘bad guys’ to take their place.
The upside is that there are so many millions of people who work hard to bring back endangered species and stop others from becoming a memory. There are those who strive to rebuild habitats, delete invasive species that have taken over the lands because people stopped caring. Wetland conservation is done every day; land owners become land stewards and replace key components that have gone missing. And there are those who constantly bring about change, restoring the world’s natural resources.
There are debates as to what is right and what is wrong, however. These are fundamental arguments about how to save the world and not risk a species’ existence, or make the world so polluted that human existence is no longer able to be kept up because of the quality of air we breathe or water we drink.
The newest debate in the headlines is actually a very old, ongoing debate that has been part of our households for as long as this writer can remember. The news comes from SeaWorld, a place that has been praised for their good works, while also bashed repeatedly for their wrong choices.
Killer whales should not be held in captivity. That is the view of the majority out there; however, there is another side to the story. Captive killer whales are whales that have been hurt, which is why they were brought to shore, so to speak, in the first place because they no longer had the ability to survive against predators.
SeaWorld has taken a step in their attempt to prove to the world that they are most definitely concerned with the health and welfare of the orca; and not just worried about putting people in seats to watch them do tricks for the crowd. Their step? They will be building ten-million gallon tanks (basically, double the size of the ones they have now), with technology that will create a ‘real life’ fast-moving current that the orcas can swim against.
These new “environments” are on schedule to open in 2018; first in San Diego, then on to Orlando and San Antonio. Is this nicer for the whales? Sure. Does it change anything? Basically, no. The cage is still ‘home’.
It was a spokesman for PETA that summed it up by stating: “A bigger prison is still a prison.” It is the PETA organization that is at the forefront of this issue, pushing for sanctuaries by the sea that will allow the orcas to experience the ‘real’ ocean again, be able to hear their species and their families out there, and one day be comfortable and readied enough to go back out and be reunited with the ones they love. In other words, PETA wants to put in motion a way for orcas to no longer be held in captivity.
SeaWorld is definitely speaking as if this is for pure conservation efforts, and has nothing to do with their cash flow regarding shows. In fact, SeaWorld Entertainment president and CEO Jim Atchison stated: “Our vision for our new killer whale homes and research initiatives is to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate and inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”
Blue World Project is the company’s research and conservation effort that they place millions of dollars into – attempting now, more than ever, to get the people on their side.
“Free Willy” was the glory days when it came to the orca. Keiko was the killer whale who became the media darling; everyone across the globe wanted to find a way to integrate captive killer whales back into the wild. But for every good there is a bad, which came with the documentary, Blackfish, which allowed viewers to witness the life of a captured orca up close and personal. Tilikum was the ‘star’ at SeaWorld Orlando, where three trainers met their deaths, with the critical film voicing the fact that the captive conditions were the reason why the ‘killer’ killed.
SeaWorld has always vehemently denied any mistreatment to their killer whales in any way, shape or form. But their fight does not end there. The California legislature is now considering passing a bill that would ban using orcas as entertainment, period. Add in the loss of Southwest Airlines, a partner with SeaWorld that promoted them with Shamu jets, and investors who look to be pulling away from the company, no longer trusting in its healthy future – and SeaWorld ends up on the edge of its own extinction.
Is this a lesson to be learned for other companies out there that wish to profit from putting what are supposed to be ‘free’ species into cages to earn a buck? We shall see. But for now, the orca is in the limelight, earning a bigger home that will most definitely never be home.
Source: Baret News Wire