Vote of the week: Will SeaWorld ever stop using marine mammals in live shows?
Shamu's back at SeaWorld
. But for how long?
Last week's tragedy at SeaWorld Orlando amplifies questions about the use of non-domesticated animals in shows at not only SeaWorld, but all other parks which use them. Can people, even highly skilled trainers, share the water with, or even get close to, orcas and other wild animals?
SeaWorld's safety record with animals is excellent. But excellent is not perfect, and when lack of perfection costs a life - human or animal - then folks are going to ask questions, and appropriately so.
Earlier this year, when investor Blackstone Group was making its bid to buy the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment theme parks from Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Theme Park Insider reader pointed out that Blackstone's other theme park company - Merlin Entertainments - has a corporate policy that sharply restricts the use of marine mammals in performances.
Watching various SeaWorld shows over the years, I've also noticed a trend away from animal tricks and toward a more reverent treatment of the animals' "natural" behavior, turning instead toward human acrobatics and video or stage effects to juice up the theatrics of the show. (Just take a look at the current Believe and Blue Horizons shows and compare them with past orca and dolphin shows at the parks.)
So where does this trend lead? Do the SeaWorld parks, and other theme parks, eventually get to a point where they don't employ animals as performers in their shows at all? That doesn't mean that the animals would disappear from the parks - a show or attraction could be built around an animal's display habitat, much like SeaWorld's done with Wild Arctic.
(Yes, one also could ask whether certain species should be in captivity at all, but that's another question and I'm not going there today.)
Here's the question of the week: Will SeaWorld ever stop using marine mammals in live performances?
Notice that I'm not asking whether you think SeaWorld should stop using marine mammals in shows. I'm asking whether or not you think it will, and if so, whether that change will happen sooner, or later.
In the comments, let's take up that "should they" question, and also talk about the impact of this decision - not just on animals and the company, but also on your decisions about whether or not to visit SeaWorld.
Christopher Elliott just posted an essay with
I think it would be tough to get rid of the flagship show. As far as I can gather, the show had nothing to do with the accident.
I doubt it will happen, but i definately think it should happen. The captivity of animals has become so common, that we as humans do not realize the severity of the situation. Zoos are extremely commonplace, hardly recreating an animal's true habitat. Animal Kingdom, although not a zoo, has animals as well. I believe the shows that exploit any animals need to be abolished, but the exhibits, which do a fairly good job to recreate a natural habitat, can remain. There is a very confusing line that has been enweaved in the human brain concerning the use of animals in theme parks and zoos. Most importantly, using animals in this way is harmful to them in a way most humans cannot understand. Most people are not forcefully taken away from their natural habitats or born into captivity. It almost seems like another form of slavery, but for animals. Wild animals being trained to do tricks is nothing to be excited over. It is wrong and disregards the dignity of the animal. As being animals ourselves, the unfair captivity of animals and use for our entertainment should be prohibited.
I was lucky enough to visit sea world a few years ago just days after the birth of a killer whale calf. The calf and it's mother were in the main tank and unwilling to leave for the back tank or to allow other whales into the main tank with them (even the father who could be seen looking on.
It will never happen because the show attracts people and generates income. If people stop going, then the show will end, however there would be other shows that may be less harmful to animals that would end too and Sea World in general would have some serious re-tooling to do or may be in jeapardy of closing as it is built around Shamu.
Ok lets see..Will Seaworld stop the live shows? More then likly not. Most of the Killer Whales have been breed in captivity. And would not make it on their own in the wild..Lets stop and look at the whole thing. Most of the Whales in the Belive show are 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation. And now heres the tricky part. As chaves they learn from the Moms that its ok to interact with their human trainners. Much like your house pets you teach to do things, they understand that if they do a command they get rewarded same concept here not a stretch really. And Seaworld makes sure they are well feed and their health is above any of their wild counter parts. And most dont know that Tillys care and feeding costs were around $500,000 a mth. (reported on Good Morning America this morning}. And they also reported that in the case of Willy the killer whale who was released he eventually made his way to I belive Finland were he entered a harbor and seeked out human contact. Allowing humans to pet and ride him in the bay. So should Sea World release them back? No way! If they do decide to stop using them do have them spaded and nutured, And allow them to live out the rest of their lives in SeaWorlds care. Im more then sure Tilly is looking for Dawn and is wondering were his human trainner is . And why theres no interaction . Its Sad really.
I think that it is important that some sort of show goes on. This isn't just about entertainment, it's about education. The woman that was killed had to know the risks involved in what they're doing and she was willing to take those risk. Anyone that suggests that the orca involved should be euthanized is wrong. He is just doing what comes naturally. I'm sure that Sea World will be taking steps to try to avoid any such tragedy in the future, but it is not the orca's fault at all.
While the argument of “slavery” and “forced captivity” have some validity (though very little IMHO), where else would you see such wonderful creatures up close and personal? Zoos and aquariums are constantly improving their exhibits to do the best to “recreate” their natural habitats, while those “natural” habitats are constantly changing due to human effects and nature. Zoos and aquariums have undergone one of the most dramatic changes in the last 40 years of any business. Not only has their care dramatically increased, but so has the science of breeding and understanding all of the planets creatures. The amounts of support (monetary and political) for endangered animals have seen such a dramatic increase due to the education of the public that these facilities provide. Zoos and aquariums are one of the most visited “entertainment” venue collectively in America. Where else would a 3 year old inter-city child get to see a giraffe? Where would an elderly couple get to see lions and their cubs grow up with them? Would you care what happens to the elephants if you didn’t get a chance to see what they can actually do with your own 2 eyes? If people are so against these places and do not want to see them, then they need to stop going and stop paying admission. They are a business just like the rest of America and if they do not make a profit, then they will stop operating. Though the implications to everyone hired full-time, part-time and seasonally will suffer. These animals are loved and care for better than most people treat their own pets. For some of the care staff, these animals are all they have in their life. To take away the bond created between them would be cruel. To deny the millions of people the chance to see any of these animals and be educated about them would be equally as cruel. -Kyle
To Tim W and many others; who think it should be? In my opinion, these animals, and I remind everyone that they are animals, get treated better than some humans! They are cared for and loved like the children of the trainers, which was the case in SeaWorld last week. Quite frankly, I would rather see the elimination of certain breeds of dogs because of death to or attacks on humans! Breeds such as the Pit Bull. If we as a society are going to allow the continued breeding of DANGEROUS animals, then don't even talk about training of wild animals being stopped. Let’s get our priorities right people.
Sad all the way around. I , at first felt the whale should be taken back to the sea and let go, but for Tilly being protected from sure death in the sea(from man) is one thing, but being kept up from humans that it knows and trusts is another.........so everyone loses.........people killing or people making money , hard choice isn't it???
This accident is so unfortunate, and my deepest regrets go out to Dawn's family. I feel confident though that she would not what this incident to put an end to the thing she loved so dearly, and worked so hard at to achieve.
Here is a new thing to think about. After a guest died on Big Thunder Mountain a few years ago, how many people asked if we should stop building and riding roller coasters?
This is an almost impossible question to answer because of the differences between marine mammals. Orcas and otters are both MM but very different in abilities, behaviors and necessary care; similar for pinnipeds, and dolphins, and polar bears. While ending or modifying the cetecea shows would result in a very different park experience, it would still allow for cetecea environments and opportunities for guest education. But closing ALL MM shows could be the end of the company.
So many anonymous posters with... proper grammar and well thought-out ideas? Discussing a sensitive topic without reverting to all-caps posts? What is this strange place?
SeaWorld is a park that is based on shows,and their star is shamu.That would be like taking Mickey Mouse and Cinderella away from Disney.My question is,what type of park would SeaWorld be without their live animal shows?
I don't want to get too deeply into this, because I'll be writing for hours. It is truly a tragedy that Dawn Brancheau lost her life in this situation.
I wouldn't be surprised if the shows changed to an even more "natural" approach, showcasing animal's normal behaviors rather than tricks, especially with the larger mammals.
I am acquaintances with most trainers since I go on a WEEKLY basis. I knew dawn, and have seen her perform many times. It was really hard to hear and my thoughts and prayers go out to her, her family, and the Seaworld staff but here are the facts:
The orca who killed the trainer should not be used in shows or anywhere near the public. But he should not be killed. He was doing what came naturally to him. It is not his fault.
For the record, the SeaWorld parks do not capture marine mammals from the wild for the purpose of performing in shows or display in the parks. They do provide shelter and care for injured or distressed animals found in the wild, but those brought in that way who recover are released back into the wild.
This is easily one of the most fascinating and contentious threads I've ever read on this forum. ;-)
Yes, it certainly is a shame that these majestic creatures are in captivity, where they can't be hunted and slaughtered by the Japanese.
Referring to Bruce's comment, In the little prince, it states "When you've finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care." while some of you may be asking how this is relevant, it is actually a poor translation from French in which the book was originally written. But it actually means that when you are done preparing yourself for your day, it is then time to prepare the planet for its day, with even more care. Meaning that we should treat our planet with respect, including all of the animals that inhabit our wonderful planet
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.