With thousands across America cooped up in their homes and not allowed to go out freely, this brought a thought to my mind of how animals in aquariums and zoos likely feel the same on the daily. Without a doubt, there is pressure on America to reopen states and coincidingly, many struggling businesses. As these businesses begin to reopen and serve customers old and new alike, there is one place that definitely shouldn't reopen: SeaWorld.
SeaWorld, a multi-billion dollar franchise, attracts tourists primarily in its California and Florida locations. The amusement park is home to many marine animals and known for their live shows, alongside trainers. Even though these shows are breath taking for spectators to watch, it is equally as breath taking for the animals in the shows as they are essentially being held captive and abused for the company's profit.
Fans of SeaWorld will surely cease their support once they realize the cruel company they have been complicit with for years by purchasing tickets and visiting the parks. The animals at SeaWorld have surely experienced mistreatment and since customers are so eager to visit the parks, they are single handedly encouraging this cruelty. In an interview with a former SeaWorld trainer, John Hargrove even said, “SeaWorld downplayed acts of whale aggression, wanting to maintain it's family-friendly image.” Once we stop purchasing tickets, then there will simply be no business left to support and thus, no more animals being abused at the hands of SeaWorld employees.
The large cetaceans are held in modules at the parks which may seem vast to the human eye, but are microscopic compared to the ocean in which they came from and rightfully belong. The whales and orcas practically swim in circles until they are so bored and then proceed to grind their teeth and bash their heads on the barriers on the pool, now causing physical harm. The cetaceans are held in isolation (further adding to the psychological damage they are experiencing) until they are forced to mate and breed with others of its kind. SeaWorld, however, has stopped this practice of forced breeding after being called out for it. The marine animals held at SeaWorld are not aggressive by nature, but turn violent due to prolonged captivity and ultimately, have irreversible psychological damage as well. In a heated interview regarding SeaWorld, one said, “If you were in a bathtub for 25 years don’t you think you’d get a little psychotic?” This directly describes the living situation of SeaWorld’s animals. They are being held against their will in an unnatural environment. Even though SeaWorld has expanded the size of their pools and changed their shows to be more educational, the animals are still not getting what they need which is free range of the ocean and freedom from captivity.
Tilikum, SeaWorld's most known orca, was once a star of water shows. Prior to the orca’s demise, she has been attributed with the death of two of her trainers. Many were quick to blame the orca for these violent attacks. After videos surfaced of the gruesome attacks, SeaWorld lovers first hand saw the effects of how keeping a large marine animal in a confined tank agitated it, resulting in these attacks. The physical confinement pushed the cetacean over the edge. Ultimately, the cetaceans are forced to perform in the California and Florida heat only to return to a completely dark and isolated tank afterwards.
Separation of Families
Employees go out in boats and harp in marine animals that will then live a life of exploitation at SeaWorld, many of which are actively separated from it's family. Animals form bonds with their young and depend on one another for protection and care. Once this bond is broken, the animal has to then fend for itself, but the family left behind mourns the loss of its family member. SeaWorld employees are known to pick out young animals so they will be able to perform in shows for an extended period of time. At just two years of age, Tilikum was captured. These animals are highly intelligent and are well aware of the separation happening, but have no idea the magnitude of pain that they will endure for the remainder of their lives. In a documentary titled, “Under the Tanks”, a photographer at SeaWorld said, “It’s worse than a prison. Because the prisoners do something wrong. These guys did nothing wrong except for look beautiful.” If everyone recognizes that separation of immigrants at the border is wrong, why is it any different for helpless animals in the ocean?
This killer whale's teeth are forcibly drilled and cleaned everyday after the whale grinded its teeth against the barriers of it's tank, causing breakage and physical pain. https://www.thedodo.com/seaworld-orcas-injuries-vet-1291227186.html
This orca has rake marks after other animals violently brushed up against it's skin. https://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/veterinarian-visits-seaworld-san-antonio-orca-abuse/
Advertised as “normal” by SeaWorld, but far from it, this orca has a collapsing dorsal fin following time spent in an inadequate tank for the large marine animal. https://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/veterinarian-visits-seaworld-san-antonio-orca-abuse/
Orcas who stay at the surface for hours on end suffer from extreme sunburn and are covered with black zinc oxide by SeaWorld trainers to cover these burns from the public. https://seaworldwhalesabusers.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/lack-of-care-and-health/
In addition to the inadequate tank sizes, the animals are forced to stay at the surface of the tanks for shows. This exposes the animal to the sun and at SeaWorld, there is no shade or protection from this at all. The water in which the tanks are filled with is chemically treated and the chlorine levels are far too high. To a human or animal, this can cause extreme sight impairment even if in the water for a few minutes, just because the levels are so high. Now, imagine a lifetime spent in water like this! The animals are bound to have issues with their skin peeling off and cataracts in their eyes. With the nature of how the shows are set up, the animals are also forced to crane their heads up towards an audience which stresses their muscles and even causes discoloration after some time. As if conditions couldn’t get worse, the animals are starved if they act erratic in front of an audience! With the overall environment being captivity, these animals have significantly shorter lifespans in comparison to those in the ocean.
As these cruelties have been brought to light, people have been calling for the emptying of tanks holding these innocent, overworked animals and a definite end to SeaWorld. They have been boycotting the company in an attempt to do so. Through the hashtag "#boycottseaworld" people are spreading the word about how the animals should be able to live freely in the ocean and not used as a show toy at SeaWorld. So many people are simply unaware of what SeaWorld is doing behind the scenes. Beyond the happy children in commercials and entertaining performances, there is a flood of abuse and exploitation at work.
#EMPTYTHETANKS: Activists take to the streets of London to urge others in the boycotting of SeaWorld and freeing of its captive cetaceans.
Animals still feel pain and trauma like humans do. Just because they don't have a voice to share their experiences, doesn't mean they should have to endure more pain for the entertainment of others. Bring some change and stop supporting SeaWorld!!