This post was most recently updated on November 7th, 2014
This post was NOT solicited by SeaWorld San Diego nor am I being compensated for my time.
I love SeaWorld. As someone lucky enough to grow up in San Diego, I looked forward to the trips to this wonderful place where I could be face to face with a killer whale or feed the dolphins. As a little girl, I always wanted to be the one chosen to be kissed by Shamu. Now I am angry about the portrayal of the parks in the movie Blackfish, comments from people that have never been to the parks or who are unaware of the efforts of SeaWorld San Diego and all of the SeaWorld parks in animal conservation, education and animal rescue. It would appear that only the detractors are getting heard and I wanted to express my views and support.
It’s Hard to Love What You Can’t See
Why do people care about orcas? Because of SeaWorld parks. Long before Free Willy came to the screen, there were SeaWorld parks with millions of visitors each year. Young children that are now adults that marveled at these wonderful creatures. Visiting SeaWorld made orcas, dolphins and other sea creatures real and precious to us. Shamu became the face of the orcas and gave us a reason to care. It takes a great deal of work, care and attention to detail to take care of an animal such as a killer whale. Yes it the purpose of the parks to make money, but money cannot buy the love and devotion shown to the orcas by their trainers and caretakers. Just ask a trainer after a show.
A visit to a SeaWorld park is also an education in how our actions such throwing trash in the street, oil in the sewer drains, wasting water and pollution in the water affects not only us but our marine friends as well.
The SeaWorld Bush Gardens Conservation Foundation
The SeaWorld Bush Gardens Conservation Foundation is partnered with the World Wildlife Fund, Inc. (WWF), the Nature Conservancy and the National Audubon Society just to name a few organizations, working around the world to support conservation education, animal rescue and a global awareness of animals and their worth. Since the Foundation began in 2003, it has given out over $11 million in grants. In addition SeaWorld Parks have given over $50 million dollars to wildlife organizations. The foundation helps not only marine animals but all different types of animals. In 2014 foundation grants will support the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leon; Painted Dog (also known at the wild African Dog) Conservation in Zimbabwe; SANCOOB working with African penguins in South Africa whose population which has lost 98% of its population since a 1930 count of breeding pairs; Ecology Project International (EPI) which will work to protect leatherback sea turtle populations by working to reduce the illegal harvest of nests and improving nesting habitats. 100% of the donations to the SeaWorld Bush Gardens Conservation Foundation are used for conservation. The costs for the administration of the fund are picked up by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Return to the Wild
“Who you gonna call?” While researching this post, I visited the SeaWorld Cares web site and learned that SeaWorld was instrumental in helping in the rescue of Winter, the dolphin in Dolphin Tale. And that the parks have been responsible for rescuing and caring for 23,000 ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned animals in its 50 year existence. SeaWorld staff are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assist with animal rescue.
SeaWorld is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In order to be accredited SeaWorld must meet certain standards and undergo reviews by teams of experts from the association.
My Conclusion about the SeaWorld Parks
I wanted to write a piece from my heart to share my love of SeaWorld and to let the staff know that there is support for the parks and their efforts . I also don’t like the movie Blackfish. I found that the movie was very one sided and negative. In researching for this post I found a link to the SeaWorld document which provides details and links to more than 60 inaccuracies in the Blackfish movie. I hope you will take a moment to look at the document. It is easy to read, concise, and contains links to their supporting documentation. Among other things, the SeaWorld document refutes claims that they separate calves from their mothers. The orca ‘calves’ referred to in Blackfish were 4 1/2 years old and 12 years old respectively. Or that SeaWorld obtains its orcas from the wild, a practice that ended in 1979 over 30 years ago. Having orcas in a setting such as SeaWorld is akin to having animals in a zoo. A very emotional issue. But if SeaWorld had not brought us face to face with these magnificent creatures, would we care so much about them today?
In my case I am looking forward to more visits to SeaWorld San Diego and the opening of the new Blue Whale Project opening at SeaWorld San Diego in 2018. Thanks for reading.