Be careful what you wish for, SeaWorld opponents
For animal "rights" activists attacking SeaWorld, I have a message:
Be careful what you wish for, in case you one day get it.
SeaWorld is back in court this week, facing charges from OSHA resulting from the death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010. Yesterday, two trainers from SeaWorld San Diego took the stand to testify about SeaWorld's procedures. One of the trainers, Ken Peters, will be familiar to Theme Park Insider readers who remember when he showed me around SeaWorld's training facilities in 2008.
Me, with Ken Peters and Corky at SeaWorld San Diego in 2008.
I'm not nearly qualified to pass judgment on what's happening in the Orlando courtroom, but I think it is worth noting that the number of trainers killed by orcas at SeaWorld is equal to the number of drivers killed by monorails at Walt Disney World. (One at each, by my count of incidents since I started this site in 1999.) No one has suggested that Disney remove its monorails, but Disney has had to make several changes in monorail operation to help ensure that such an incident does not happen again. I hope that the process now ongoing in Orlando also results in something that protects SeaWorld's trainers, as well as its animals and SeaWorld's efforts to engage and educate its audience.
That third element is one that's ignored by the animal rights activists who have seized upon this case in their ongoing public relations battle against SeaWorld.
Anyone who truly cares about protecting animals cares about conserving and protecting their natural habitats. Human impact upon the environment is global. For many species, protecting natural habitat requires human beings to make changes in the ways we travel, live and do business.
I believe that most peoples' willingness to protect - and advocate for the protection of - a species' native habitat is proportional to the direct contact that person has had with that species. Sorry, news stories and TV specials don't cut it. Just look at the depressingly large number of people who don't immunize their children, or who deny that global warming is happening, or who believe that human beings were created in their current form a few thousand years ago. Too many Americans choose to remain blissfully ignorant of science, even zoology. If you want to motivate people to act to protect orcas, you've got to have a killer whale splash them in the face.
It's impossible to visit a SeaWorld show and not be hit with a message about conservation. But it's the direct contact with the animals - whether that be through sight, touch or splash - that motivates more people to listen to, and - for a few of them, perhaps - act upon those messages.
In an ideal world, we wouldn't need zoos and animal parks such as SeaWorld, because people would be able to travel the world easily, inexpensively and with no environmental impact, experiencing animals in their native habitats. But that's not the world we live in. Until people can apparate to Puget Sound or Antarctica to see oracs and penguins, we need places like SeaWorld. We need places where people can see live animals from other parts of the world and not only learn about protecting global wildlife habitats - but become motivated to do it.
That's what we will lose if the animal rights activists get their way and force SeaWorld to abandon its animals, starting with the orcas. Personally, I don't think PETA's leadership gives a damn about animal survival. They're concerned only with changing human behavior. I suspect that PETA's leadership wouldn't care about catastrophic loss of habitat and widespread species extinction, so long as every human being was a vegan and zoos were outlawed.
Fortunately, people in the zoological fields do care about protecting habitat and preventing extinctions. And they recognize the importance of educating and motivating the public. I don't want to live in a world where even more people ignore and deny the need to take better care of our environment because they've never seen a wild animal, even in a zoo or SeaWorld park.
Great post as always!
I agree with everything you said in this article. Well done Robert, well done. Also,screw PETA! This whole Mario Kills Tanooki thing is annoying the crap out of me!
Brilliant Robert! Well done!
You painted too big a brush with your allegations. I have a science and engineering background and I don't trust global warming science and I have honest doubts about how long humans were on the earth. This doubt is in fact based on how science actually works, which is skepticism and that science is constantly changing. I do believe in vaccines, but I feel the vaccination schedule is much too agressive for young children. Many parents have their doubts and I'm not one to dispute their concerns, but it was reported that many parents who don't allow vaccines are largely coming from the left.
I think that even if Sea World were no longer able to have the Shamu show on display at its parks that there would be plenty of other great things to see there. They should push their dolphin shows to the forefront of their promotions and make a bigger production and spectacle out of them. Think about all the dolphin movies that have come out (Dolphin Tale, Flipper, etc.) Milk the dolphin cuteness/love for all its worth, Sea World! Maybe they should incorporate some licenses that would fit in well with their park like Happy Feet and Flipper.
Anon Mouse, Thank you for your comment, especially what you said in your first paragraph. There are a lot of scientists who are sceptical about those things.
Wow. Way to go Robert! I never thought I'd hear YOU say that. THANK YOU. I've noticed a pretty common pattern of protesters who protest for their own ego gratification and less for the cause of making a positive difference. PETA will do more to harm the cause of protecting animals than save them.
I am mostly in agreement with your epistle, however, I, like Anon Mouse, am a bit confused about what immunization, global warming, or creation/evolution have to do with SeaWorld's legal battles. Imho, you took an unnecessary jab at the beliefs and opinions of others, however, I do respect that you are willing to take a stand. I guess it is a writer's job to excite and even incite people, which, in the grand scheme of things, is good business for TPI!
There are two main ways to make a case for something - logic (flowing from science) and emotion. I'm saying that logical, scientific arguments don't sway a large portion of society anymore, thanks to a continuing campaign to convince Americans than actual knowledge is elitist. (For further examples, I refer you to the 2012 GOP presidential campaign.)
Anon, in most countries the Green parties are not aligned neither with the left nor with the right. PETA is just another form of religious radicals like the US creationists and the Taliban. They are not taken seriously by any normal left, center, right or even green person.
As someone who lives and travels internationally, global warming is an accepted fact everywhere in the world except the United States. Even in the oil producing countries of Arabia everyone knows global warming is a fact and they are investing in alternative energy technologies. Almost all US scientists say it is a fact. It is truly frightening and disheartening that so many Americans believe otherwise and vote based on disinformation.
It's called global climate change now. For a reason.
The biggest problem is that these animals are simply too big to be kept properly in captivity. These creatures swim sometimes hundreds of miles in a day and dive to depths so deep that they cannot be replicated which is theorized to be the reason their dorsal fin flops over. Why not do a giant 3d show with recorded video of orcas complete with water effects?
I only pointed out that most of the noted theories (heretofore called "facts") don't have anything to do with SeaWorld's legal battle, except to showcase one's political/religious bias, which is no more valid than the political/religious bias of those with an opposing or differing viewpoint.
PETA sucks at jokes. They just announced this whole Mario Kills Tanooki was a joke.
My love for animals and fish comes from my childhood memories of Sea World and the zoos. I grew up with a love of nature because of that experience. I think any kid exposed to Sea World will become a nature-conscious adult.
Although I'm not completely comfortable with Zoos of any kind I have to recognise the good work they do in terms of conservation and awareness. They used to play a more prominent part in providing an opportunity for people to see animals in the flesh but , with World travel becoming increasingly available, that side is perhaps becoming less relevant. But not everyone has that option at their disposal and, as Robert pointed out, television cannot replace that real life viewing experience.
Well done Robert.
Robert I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Just as some other members here have mentioned, I also grew up with a love for marine life BECAUSE my parents took me to SeaWorld. These parks are easily my favorite places to visit, and It makes me so happy to read that many me,bets here agree with your brave comments. Thank you to everyonevwho posted words of support.
"That's what we will lose if the animal rights activists get their way and force SeaWorld to abandon its animals, starting with the orcas."
@Tony Perkins - The US is not alone in the denial of climate change. These arguments over its validity happen in every country in the world.
Global warming is real? Stated like it's a fact. Really, Robert?
I concur with Eric.
My daughter is an elephant keeper at Zoo Miami. She has had a love of animals since she was very little -- and has her dream job. However, everyone in that field is well aware of the dangers involved. Accidents can happen even when you are careful in any job.
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