Last Friday, California State Assembly member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced a landmark bill that, if passed, will make orca performances and entertainment illegal in the state.
Bloom’s efforts have been met with applause from animal lovers all around who, like Bloom, understand that a life of captivity is unsuitable for highly intelligent and social animals like orcas (and truly, any animal at all).
“There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes,” said Bloom.
Yet, of course, SeaWorld thinks differently since wild animal performances equal big dollar signs.
As with SeaWorld’s other PR tactics aimed at discrediting what was revealed about the company in the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” the marine park giant is again on the defensive with Bloom’s newly proposed bill.
While it remains to be seen if the bill will have a fair chance in the legislature, it has and will continue to draw negative attention to SeaWorld.
In an attempt to minimize this damage and the continuing repercussions from “Blackfish,” SeaWorld is pulling out all the stops.
Just last week, SeaWorld brought Steve Irwin’s daughter, Bindi, onto their team as an ambassador for their new initiative “Generation Nature,” which will aim to get younger generations involved with caring about wild animals.
While Bindi is in full control over what programs she participates in, the introduction of this program seems to be just another attempt by SeaWorld to distract attention from their orcas. If they’re helping kids connect with nature, all the captivity isn’t really so bad, right?
What’s more, by placing Bindi in the spotlight, SeaWorld has created a scapegoat for criticism, at least temporarily.
Whether this was intentional or simply an indirect effect is not what’s in question here. Rather, it’s the fact that with Bindi’s announcement, all negative attention switched to her – social media outlets lit up with both nasty and considered comments. SeaWorld, on the other hand, seemed to be left out of the critical fire when they are the entity that deserves it most.
In addition to “Generation Nature,” SeaWorld has released a statement in response to Bloom’s bill in which they state that he is associating with “extreme animal rights activists, many of whom regularly campaign against SeaWorld and other accredited marine mammal parks and institutions.”
SeaWorld has yet to define what they deem “extreme,” but by their repeated remarks, it seems to be a label they give out freely to anyone who even remotely opposes to their operations.
In this new statement, SeaWorld also asserts that they “engage in business practices that are responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share.”
However, if SeaWorld would just look in the mirror for once and stop all the charades maybe they’d finally see that what they do is in fact extreme and is in no way “responsible, sustainable and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share.”
Forcing a wild animal to perform tricks in front of an audience is a perverted form of what SeaWorld calls “conservation.” In no natural environment would orca whales find themselves jumping up in human-orchestrated patterns and allowing humans to ride on their backs.
Moreover, in the wild, orcas swim for up to 100 miles a day and are not confined to small, concrete pools. Simply because an animal is considered “captive,” does not mean their natural behaviors are automatically erased, nor should they even be hindered in the first place.
If SeaWorld was actually interested in conservation, education, and reflecting “balanced values all Americans share,” they would be making every attempt to provide their animals with the best possible wild-like environment and care. But because they continue on with wild animal performances and exhibits, this type of environment cannot be achieved. For SeaWorld, profit wins over all else every single time.
Take action: Help California’s new bill along by signing this petition urging for the enactment of the Orca Welfare and Safety Act.
Image source: Robert Linsdell / Flickr