For the past three years I have lived just under an hour away from Orlando's SeaWorld. Because of this, it is quite common for people to tell me they are going there or have just been. So much so that many have yearly passes and go once a month or more, which saddens me.
The vast majority of people that go to places like SeaWorld do not give a second thought about any moral issues that surround such a business.
I don't go to SeaWorld and will not take my kids there. That's because I love and respect animals. That's right, I don't go because I love whales and dolphins (and any other earthlings they hold captive).
Dolphins are amazing animals, that in the wild can swim up to 25 miles per hour and do so for long periods of time. They can also live up to 50 years old. They don't get to do either living in captivity. Furthermore, according to Animal Planet, they form bonds with other dolphins that may last a lifetime. In the wild, they spend their entire lives with their family, like humans do. In captivity, they have been literally abducted from their family and natural habit. If dolphins live in families it only makes sense that they would notice when of their family members is missing.
Whales in the wild can travel up to 100 miles per day. How many miles per day can they travel in chlorinated pools? Beluga whales in the wild can live up to 80 years for females and 50 years for males. In captivity they don't live anywhere near that, with most being reported to die shortly after captivity, due to bacterial infections. Killer whales also live in family groups, called pods, remaining with them usually for a lifetime. Up to 90 percent of captive male orca's have dorsal fin collapse, which is believed to be linked to being depressed.
Both the whale and dolphin are social animals, that when in captivity, are forced into unnatural relationships. They also suffer from lack of movement, as they go from an entire ocean to something that would be considered the size of a bathtub for their body.
Places like SeaWorld are unnatural and unethical. I do not want these animals ripped from their natural habitats and families, put into pools, and made to perform, or be on display, for humans.
Anyone familiar with the award winning movie "The Cove" or the Animal Planet show "Blood Dolphins" knows the relationship between the massive slaughter of dolphin and the capitivity of them. It goes hand in hand, with one helping to support the other.
How would people feel if the tables were ever turned? What if someone abducted our children, put them in cages and made them perform?
Do I want to see whales and dolphins (or other animals)? Absolutely! But only if it is in their own habitat. In fact, I have seen whales while being on a cruise and on whale watching tours in Dana Point, Calif.
I've also seen many dolphin in their natural habitat, including being completely surrounded by hundreds of them at once while on an amazing whale watching tour. Every area of the water there were dolphin!
I also enjoy watching the Planet Earth and National Geographic-type shows that teach us about these earthlings. I watch Whale Wars. We have taken the kids to an IMAX ocean movie. We have many books about dolphins, whales and other animals.
I never want animals to sacrifice their lives, well being, or have to live under unnatural conditions, in order to entertain me or my family. Even if that meant I would never get a chance to see one of them in person. I want my kids to learn to respect animals, which means allowing them to live their life as nature intended, rather than for human gain or entertainment.
Having said all this, I realize that SeaWorld does help some animals here and there through rescue work. I was at Blue Springs State Park (a place we take the kids every year to see the manatee in their natural habitat) last year when they released a manatee they nursed back to health.
While I'm greatful for that type of work, it doesn't excuse the other. That would be akin to slave owners taking a portion of their profits to do charity work. Besides, if they didn't do the deed, I believe another advocacy group would step up, or be created, in their place in order to help these sea animals.
Before visiting a place like SeaWorld, think about the lives of the animals. Is your one day of entertainment worth those animals giving up their natural and free lives? Rather than go to SeaWorld, rent the movie "The Cove" and learn the dark side behind such an industry. We vote withour dollars and if you don't want these animals harmed, then it only makes sense to avoid places like SeaWorld. You have to ask yourself if you are against animal cruelty. Because when people go to SeaWorld they are supporting animal cruetly, even on a scale they never see on their fancy grounds.