For decades, animal activists have been calling for an end to SeaWorld’s inhumane practice of holding whales, dolphins, and other intelligent aquatic creatures in captivity and exploiting them for profit. But it wasn’t until 2013, when the documentary “Blackfish” blew the unpleasant truth about the infamous marine theme park wide open, that the opposition grew tremendously and a huge backlash ensued.
In response to citizens all over the world expressing their outrage and calling for change following the release of the award-winning documentary, SeaWorld pledged to phase out orca shows by 2019. Further, the park posted on its website that it would instead begin to offer “new, inspiring, natural orca encounters” which would “reflect the natural world and [would] focus on the research, education, and care.”
And yet, SeaWorld has thus far shown no real intention of changing its ways. In a half-hearted attempt to clear its reputation, the park has begun offering “Killer Whale Up-Close Tours.” While these may on the surface seem more educational in nature and therefore less controversial, the tours still involve guests training the orcas to do tricks. In other words, killer whales are still being exploited for human entertainment during these tours.
What’s more, according to Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the park still has yet to put an end to both its signature orca show and a holiday show in which orcas perform to the sound of holiday music.
In light of SeaWorld’s continued failure to follow through on its promises, animal advocates have proposed a bill called the Florida Orca Protection Act (HB 1305) with the sponsorship of state Representative Jared Moskowitz. While the bill was drafted for the 2018 legislative session, it was unfortunately never voted on. Refusing to give up, Moskowitz and animal defenders are now calling for the legislation to be passed in the 2019 legislative session.
According to ALDF, this animal-saving bill would “make it illegal to hold orcas in captivity for any purpose (grandfathering those already in captivity in Florida), and require those in captivity be only used for educational purposes.” In addition, the act would “prohibit the breeding of captive orcas and [the transportation of] captive orcas into Florida or out of North America, unless provided by federal law or to rehome to sanctuary, and would require that orcas held for rehabilitation or research purposes be returned to the wild whenever possible.”
As Moskowitz explained the need for the bill in a press release, “Marine parks continue to prove they cannot be trusted to make the rules on animal welfare. Despite SeaWorld’s promises that it would phase out orca shows, the park continues to offer new opportunities to interact with the animals and forcing them to perform for guests’ entertainment.” He went on, “Now we know why they hired lobbyist to fight against taking their promises and putting them into law – because they meant to break them all along.”
Stephen Wells, executive director for the ALDF, also concisely described the urgent necessity of the act, stating, “Companies can break a promise, not a law. The only way to save countless orcas from suffering through a life in captivity is to codify SeaWorld’s promise, and the Florida Orca Protection Act will do just that.”
If you agree that it’s high time we ended the senseless practice of confining majestic orca whales in tiny tanks and forcing them to do tricks, we encourage you to help dismantle the cruel marine park industry by NEVER visiting a facility that holds animals in captivity for show.
Image Source: Flickr