SeaWorld Does Not Educate
P.1. Going to SeaWorld serves no educational value, it is simply a place for entertainment. Why else would they train the animals to perform tricks and do flips during the shows? Many people think it is an educational experience and that is why the majority of the audience is children. They are brought because parents and school districts think they are providing these children with a fun, educational field trip but in reality they are not learning any information. And if they are learning anything at all, it is usually false information that SeaWorld is telling the audiences. They don’t tell the truth about these animals and they spread misinformation to get the audience thinking that being held captive is a good thing. One of SeaWorld’s icons, the orca, is the most talked about sea animal when it comes to the topic of animal captivity. They are a perfect example on how SeaWorld spreads false information to hide the truth about the health effects captivity has on the orcas.
P.2. If you think back to when you were in elementary school, chances are that you went on a field trip to some type of marine park like SeaWorld, or a local aquarium. These trips were funded by the schools and it was a yearly routine to take the students for an educational experience. In the article, “SeaWorld Doesn’t ‘Educate’ Students” written by Zach Affolter, he talks about how some elementary school teachers are arguing that their students do not take any valuable lessons from going to places like SeaWorld. When you bring young children to a place like this they are only focused on the sea animals themselves, not about the facts they are being told. Especially when the sea mammals are performing amazing tricks, that seems to be the only thing students will remember about their trip to SeaWorld. But if they do remember something that one of the orca trainers said, it will most likely be false information. SeaWorld tries to cover up for their wrongdoings by having them convince the audience that things that they have caused are natural and happen to whales everywhere. They refuse to tell the truth about their sea mammals because that will result in less people coming to their parks.
P.3. Orcas, or more commonly known as killer whales, are giant black and white whales and are the largest members of the dolphin family. Wild orcas are very different from the captive orcas at SeaWorld including health, physical appearance, and daily routines. SeaWorld has been providing false information about their whales for decades. One of the biggest lies they talk about is the lifespan of the captive whales compared to the lifespan of the free whales. They claim on their website that no one knows the exact life span of wild orcas but then they go on to say that SeaWorld’s whales live just as long as the wild orcas. On the lifespan of killer whales page on their website they say that “female killer whales live around 30 to 50 years and males live around 19 to 30 years.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years; females typically live about 50 years, but can live as long as 100 years.” SeaWorld is providing younger ages on their page because those are the typical lifespans of their whales held in captivity. Also less than two years ago a 103 year old female orca was spotted off the coast of Washington, which made SeaWorld’s lie look a lot worse. These whales being kept in captivity don’t live nearly as long as the whales living out free in the wild and the research is there to prove it.
P.4. Orcas are known as killer whales for a reason. This reason is because they hunt and kill other large sea animals for food. A wild orcas diet usually consists of a variety of fish and sea mammals such as seals, small whales and sometimes sharks. Their diet can range from fish to seabirds to sea turtles and they normally eat whatever animal they can find. The orcas sometimes work together to successfully hunt these animals and they come up with strategies to trap the prey that they are hunting. On the other hand, the captive whales held at SeaWorld are only fed thawed fish and they can’t eat whenever they please. In the article, “Food Deprivation Is Alive and Well at SeaWorld” by Elizabeth Batt, she talks about former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove’s book called Beneath the Surface. When explaining how the orcas ate at SeaWorld, ” Hargrove’s point wasn’t that SeaWorld starved the whales, it was that food withholding was used as a motivator to keep them hungry enough to want to perform in shows for fish rewards.” They are only motivated to cooperate to the commands because they are so hungry and they know if they cooperate they will get food. If they are not cooperating during the shows their amount of fish given per day is also decreased in order to get them to perform well. In addition, in the article, “SeaWorld Says ‘The Facts Are On Our Side.’ Let’s Look At The ‘Facts.’” a former trainer claims that orcas were starved before visits from celebrities or VIP guests so that they would perform well. SeaWorld has denied using food deprivation to make its orcas perform but it is clearly true that they do. Captive orcas will never be able to hunt and they won’t be eating anything other than a small amount of fish for the rest of their lives.
P.5 Another major difference between wild and captive whales would be their daily lives and how they interact with other orcas. Orcas that live out in the wild travel around 100 miles per day and they always travel with other whales, usually their pods, or family members. They have strong bonds with each other out in the wild. They are able to swim freely and go as deep or as far as they feel like. Orcas in captivity are kept in shallow tiny pools resulting in them having to swim in the same circle all day long. They are also alone in these tanks or sometimes when they are with other orcas that they are not compatible with they fight each other which results in injuries and sometimes even death. If fights do occur there isn’t much that can be done considering the fact that the whales can’t just swim away or hide since they are in the tiny pool. As explained in the article, “Why Killer Whales Should Not Be Kept In Captivity” by Melissa Hogenboom, orcas in the wild live in distinct units called ecotypes and each one is very different from another. In 1989 during a live SeaWorld show in San Diego, one of the dominant female orcas rammed a new member of the group into the wall causing the orca to bleed to death due to a torn open artery. Marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose says, “that degree of aggression has never been observed in the wild” and that “the two whales involved were from different oceans. They would never have encountered each other in the wild.” At SeaWorld their ecotype isn’t taken into consideration, causing two whales of different ecotypes to be forced to interact with each other which results in tragedies like the one mentioned in the article. To continue, orcas in the wild are able to do as they please and eat whenever they like and swim freely out in the vast ocean. On the other hand, captive whales are forced to perform tricks for audiences multiple times a day and they do the same routine every time as well. They are limited in space to swim and they cannot eat whenever they are hungry, it is whenever they are fed by the trainers, which is usually not enough to suffice their hunger. They are also living in a very noisy environment from the blaring music from the performances to the roller coasters that go by all day and that can be very irritating to them. Meanwhile wild orcas live in the quiet ocean where they do not perform these unnatural tricks, they just swim freely.
P.6. One of the major physical differences between wild and captive whales is the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin of a captive orca is almost always collapsed, usually more often in males. On the physical characteristics of orcas page on SeaWorld’s website they state “However, as killer whales at SeaWorld tend to spend more time at the surface working with their trainers, and many of the males have slumped or bent dorsal fins, it seems probable that time spent at the surface may be a contributing factor.” This shows that SeaWorld is admitting to the fact that being kept in these shallow pools causes their dorsal fins to collapse. They are using this fact as an excuse to hide all the other reasons that their dorsal fins collapse because they can get away with this one the easiest. Some of the other reasons are from stress, not swimming in deep waters, and swimming slowly in circles all day long. Whales in the wild can travel fast and far and are able to swim at very deep measures unlike the captive whales so their dorsal fins are straight and tall. SeaWorld is not telling the whole truth about the reasons for this abnormality and they are persuading children into thinking a collapsed dorsal fin is common, when they would rarely see one out in the wild.
P.7. Another difference is that these captive whales suffer psychological trauma such as madness and severe stress. Many of the orcas at SeaWorld have broken teeth from biting on the steel gates due to stress, which causes severe dental problems and painful holes having to be drilled. There is only one known death of a wild orca killing a human, but there are four deaths and over a dozen severe injuries from whales in captivity. In one of the cases with the wild orca it initially identified the human as prey and then ceased when they realized it was a mistake. But for the whales at SeaWorld it was not a mistake. It is said that these attacks were due to stress, frustration, and lots of aggression built up over time. All of these attacks from the captive whales were at SeaWorld and they never would have occurred if these whales were living free like the rest of the orca population, considering the fact that they do not hunt humans.
P.8. All things considered, SeaWorld makes it seem like the animals are living great lives in these pools because the trainers only talk about positive things during the shows. The trainers talk about how well the whales interact with one another and how they play and swim together all day long. But they do not mention how the whales are isolated most of the time because they fight each other out of stress and irritation, like mentioned previously. SeaWorld makes it look like living in these pools are the whales natural place to live and that they are actually happy living there. The children do not even know where the natural habitat actually is for most of these animals, they just think it is natural for them to be swimming in these tiny pools for the rest of their lives. By being told all this false information and having them focus on the shows and tricks, they are not learning anything educational about sea animals, which is supposed to be SeaWorld’s whole purpose. This causes children to believe false information and not see a problem with animal captivity. They claim that they have educated over nine million children on the values of conservation, which is a total lie.
P.9. SeaWorld claims that it is a place to educate the public about the lives of sea animals in a way we would never be able to without them. If they say they are more about education than entertainment, then why do they only choose to hold the animals that can perform the most tricks and can be easily trained? In the article, “If SeaWorld Is About Educating The Public, Why Doesn’t It Have Any Porpoises?” by David Kirby he talks about the fact that SeaWorld does not hold any porpoises in any of its parks. Porpoises are members of the dolphin family that can be found off the coasts of many SeaWorld operating states. So if these sea mammals live so close to the parks, then how come we aren’t learning about them in the parks? According to Courtney Vail, campaigns and program manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, it is because they don’t have that ‘crowd appeal’ that other sea mammals like the bottle-nose dolphin does. Industries consider porpoises undesirable because they won’t draw in crowds like the massive killer whales do. It might also be because they are shy and less acrobatic, meaning that they can’t really be trained to perform shows. This shows that SeaWorld only chooses animals that will get the biggest audience, because the shows are the number one focus. Also it shows that they do not really care about which animals they do not keep, because they only keep the ones that are going to make the most money for the company.
P.10. SeaWorld is a place to watch animals interact up close and see them perform tricks for the audiences. They claim that “the parks and products of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ deliver educational experiences intended to create a deeper understanding, respect, and desire to protect all wildlife.” This is false because they do not provide you with a deeper understanding about the animals, they simply talk about the basic facts of certain animals and then have you watch a show to be more entertained. By watching them perform flips in the air you are not getting the urge to protect the wildlife because your so focused on what trick the animal might do next. Also, by watching the shows you feel anything but respect for these animals. Most people wonder how the trainers even got these animals to do these unnatural tricks. The first thought that comes to mind for most would be that the animals were probably forced, tortured, and starved until they did these tricks.
P.11. Another major claim that SeaWorld makes is that they object the film Blackfish because the two major premises are wrong. The first premise is that life at SeaWorld is harmful for killer whales and for trainers working with these animals. SeaWorld claims that the animals are living in a safe, state-of-the-art habitat. On their “Health and Daily Care” page on their website they say that “our SeaWorld trainers interact with each killer whale, every day. Their contact and the personal relationship it nourishes enable the training staff to become intimately familiar with each animal’s unique behavioral profile and to notice even the slightest differences in behavior that might indicate anything unusual.” They do not mention the dangers of working with these whales and that many times trainers miss these differences in behavior and that could be very dangerous for them. Being confined in these tiny pools causes the killer whales to lash out and sometimes severely hurt other whales. They are living artificial lives which results in them being aggressive, bored, stressed, and ill. Especially since their freedom of movement is limited because that destroys their mental health. SeaWorld refuses to say that these are true because when people know the truth about the damages these animals have they refuse to come to the parks, which results in a loss of money for SeaWorld which they do not want.
P.12. The other premise is that SeaWorld attempted to cover up the facts surrounding the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010, and the story of Tilikum, which was the killer whale involved in the incident. There is no way to cover up something as major as a death of a trainer by a killer whale. This tragedy happened during a live show and was broad-casted on news stations across the world. Everyone knows the truth about this story, which was that Tilikum had become aggressive and irritated and took his anger out on Dawn, which resulted in her violent death. Footage of the event shows that she was dragged into the pool and you can clearly see that this was no accident because the killer whale continued to violently injure her for a long time. Also, the autopsy shows that she had multiple injuries such as a severed spinal cord, broken jaw, broken ribs, she was scalped and her arm was torn off, to name some of the major and more shocking ones. Her body had to be pried from his mouth because he would not stop long after she was dead and her scalp and hair was found at the bottom of the pool. These disturbing images show that this indeed was no accident and that he really wanted to hurt her. Tilikum had clear intentions on injuring or even killing her because these behaviors have not been seen around Dawn prior to this event. Not many people know that her death was this violent and that is because SeaWorld denied her death as being aggressive and they did not blame Tilikum. In the article “Former Trainer Slams SeaWorld for Cruel Treatment of Orcas” by Simon Worrall, he talks about former trainer John Hargrove’s book which was all about SeaWorld and what really went on in these parks. Hargrove explains in his book that “a SeaWorld spokesman has denied that Tilikum’s killing of three trainers showed aggressive intent and has defended the star orca’s reentry into the performing world 13 months after Brancheau’s death, saying it “is an important component of his physical, social, and mental enrichment.”” This shows that SeaWorld was trying to cover up the facts surrounding her tragic death to make it look more like an accident than a purposeful aggressive killing. Shortly after this incident a new rule was put into place that said the trainers were no longer allowed in the pools with these killer whales to make sure another tragic event did not occur. By putting this rule into place it shows that SeaWorld was nervous that another whale would act out about its poor living conditions on one of the trainers. Tilikum has now killed three trainers and SeaWorld knows that these whales are dangerous and not safe to be swimming with so they put this rule in order to stay in business.
P.13. Overall, SeaWorld is claiming false information and spreading lies to cover up for their own misdoings. They are tricking the public into thinking going to SeaWorld is an educational experience and that the animals are being treated well. When really they are a place for entertainment and only care about the money they are making. They make these lies in order to protect the company and to keep people coming back to their parks. Children are believing these lies and not seeing the problem with SeaWorld keeping these animals in captivity. The only way children can really learn about these sea animals is through research, documentaries, and marine biology. Having them go to SeaWorld to watch whales do flips and dolphins play with a ball serves no educational purpose whatsoever. The only purpose of SeaWorld is the entertainment for us and the way we get this entertainment is by capturing animals and forcing them to live miserable unhealthy lives in isolation. People going to SeaWorld in hopes of an educational experience, such as schools, end up only getting a show that was of no educational value, just entertainment and false information. This causes children to believe what they are told and to keep going back to SeaWorld to see “Shamu do his back flips”. They don’t realize that these sea animals are suffering and they do not learn anything about the way these animals actually live in the wild. In summation, SeaWorld does not educate the public, it merely entertains those who are willing to believe their lies.
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