…when will they learn…

At a press conference today, Sea World CEO announced that the theme park will continue to use its killer whales in shows, only no trainer will be allowed to set foot inside the water.

What?! What will it take for these parks to realize than no living animal likes captivity and that whenever possible, whenever confined, animals, like humans, will seek a way to escape. 

There is a reason why keeping a killer whale in an over sized swimming pool is dangerous.  It’s a wild animal.  And while I would be the first to argue that protecting endangered species is our responsibility, I would certainly object to anyone who feels that keeping them in petting zoos is a way to go.  Am I the only one worried that several generations of animals in captivity will develop new traits and behaviors that their counterparts in the wild not?  How many freed animals have died waiting around for a trainer to arrive with a bucket of food?

Killer whales, dolphins, giraffes, lions, hippos, monkeys, even snakes are beautiful animals that deserve to be freed.  Yes its sad when we see a lion eating a small gazelle or an orca eating a sea lion that could, if trained properly, balance a ball on its nose and learn to clap.  But this is what natural selection is all about.  This is the circle of life.  If we really want to protect endangered species from extinction, then we must do what we can to prevent it by staying clear of their natural habitat.  We are responsible for their demise, so we must show a new responsibility in their survival.

I feel sad for the woman who drowned.  Strangely enough, she did not die because the orca chewed her to pieces or tried to eat her.  The animal simply dragged her to the bottom of the pool in the same manner as it was trained to do for the show.  This time around, the animal kept her a bit longer, though I suspect that the trainer panicked and did not take a long enough breath when she was caught off guard.  My sympathies are with her family and friends.  But my outrage is with Sea World, its share holders, sponsors and the general public who continue to show up in droves to see these behemoths of the sea swim in circles.

It’s been reported by many nature and animal shows that the orca has a beautiful mode of communication.  But like many other animals who are imprisoned in cramped spaces, their spirit ceases to sing.  I was hoping this incident would incite a global calling to free not just this orca, but all other animals.  Unfortunately, that is not to be, perhaps ever.

That said, I wonder: if at this press conference the orca would have broken the plexy glass and swallowed the CEO whole in front of reporters, would Sea World and other theme parks still see this as just an isolated incident not worthy of reconsideration?  Money will always talk.  I just hope the day does not come when an orca jumps so high in the air that it lands on audience members.  Maybe a lawsuit of that magnitude will shut down such theme parks for good.  As terrible as that sounds, let us not forget that even such an incident is nature’s way of saying enough.
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