“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Seaworld has been under so much scrutiny since Black Fish – they had to do something. Sadly they didn’t choose to do much…
Today’s announcement to “phase out killer whale shows by 2017” lacks clarity and brings up more questions than it answers:
- What happens to the whales?
- Will the theatrical shows continue in Orlando and Texas?
- What will the new “more natural” orca experience look like?
This is a pretty strong indicator – at least to me – that this announcement is more of an effort to get a good headline and quiet haters.
What SeaWorld needs is a much more definitive action plan of action – one that shows they aren’t just concerned with headlines and appeasing critics – but are actually making choices based on the welfare of the whales.
Sadly – but realistically – I think the only two things that will drive a definitive plan of action (that reflects the best interests of the whales) are:
- Federal Legislation (as proposed by Rep. Adam Schiff) that prohibits the breeding of orcas in captivity + stops import/export of orcas. The implication of such legislation is obvious (the eventual end of orcas at Seaworld) and will consequently force management to imagine (and plan for) a SeaWorld without them.
- The cost of fighting critics is greater than the profits brought in by keeping the orcas in captivity. Ultimately this is a public company – and its first obligation is not to act morally but to maximize shareholder value. When the cost is too high, shareholders will demand change.
My suggestion: write off the financial value of the whales, partner with a conservation group that can give the animals life at an open water sanctuary, document the process, use it as an opportunity to (re)establish goodwill with the public, and repurpose SeaWorld’s aquatic assets to use with animals much more suited to captivity.
By Bailey Schroeder, ResQwalk Founder + CEO