UK’s Guardian Looks At The Future Of Marine Parks

Seems like everyone is trying to peer into SeaWorld’s future these days (and they should be!). But Will Coldwell of the Guardian does a really nice job of picking up all the trends in play right now:

While SeaWorld continues to dig its heels in – pointing out that tens of thousands of visitors are in its parks right now – others are responding more progressively. In 2012 the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a highly regarded institution synonymous with its dolphin show, cancelled its performances. Since then visitors have been able to sit and watch the dolphins as they are simply taken care of by staff. Now, the aquarium is considering retiring their eight bottlenose dolphins altogether and is in talks to create the first ocean-side dolphin sanctuary in the US. Its decision was based on regular polling of visitors; it learned that people no longer felt comfortable with the show.

“Our audience has evolved,” Aquarium CEO John Racanelli told Baltimore Magazine. “Baby boomers grew up on Flipper, but millennials grew up on Free Willy and The Cove. They are interested in these animals being treated more humanely.”

Others are following suit. This September, the Clearwater Aquarium in Florida announced it would also end animal shows, choosing to focus on rehabilitation and marine resources instead. When asked by the Guardian if SeaWorld would ever consider a similar move, the company said the terms “retire” and “sanctuary” are misplaced in the context of animal care. But added: “The short answer is no.”

I think it’s very telling that Baltimore’s National Aquarium based its evolutionary leap toward the future on polling its own visitors. Presumably SeaWorld is regularly polling its audience as well, and I wonder what those surveys are saying (maybe that info will turn up in one of the imminent shareholder lawsuits).

Read the whole thing. You’ll finish with a good understanding of all the forces in play right now.

One thought on “UK’s Guardian Looks At The Future Of Marine Parks”

  1. September 12, 2014

    The Honorable Anthony Rendon, Chair
    California Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee
    Post Office Box 942849, Room 2136
    Sacramento, California 94249-0063

    RE: California Orca Bill AB-2140

    Dear Assemblymember Rendon:

    I am writing to express my support for AB-2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act as put forward by Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

    I support the bill because it provides an end to the captive breeding of orcas in California and their use in performance-based entertainment, while allowing for the rehabilitation of rescued or stranded orcas until they can be safely returned to the wild or to a sea pen.

    This is an idea whose time has come.

    As much as I sometimes dislike the way SeaWorld does business, I wouldn’t necessarily want to the see the park closed, or jobs and tax revenue lost. However, I’m convinced that we should begin to make the transition from amusement parks to ocean sanctuaries and sea pens for captive orcas.

    As a child, I enjoyed going SeaWorld and watching the “Shamu” killer whale show. As an adult, I have come to appreciate that orcas are too large, too intelligent, too powerful, and too social (family-oriented) to be adequately confined at amusement parks structured for profit.

    Frustrated captive orcas have broken their teeth by chewing on gates and enclosures. Their dorsal fins have collapsed. They have died prematurely— rejected their young—and have even harmed and killed humans.

    Whatever benefits have been gained from keeping orcas in captivity cannot offset the loss of four young adults who have been killed by orcas in the marine park industry. Enacting the bill could prevent similar tragedies from happening in California.

    After 50 years of displaying orcas for human amusement as well as studying them in the wild, we have learned enough about them to understand that they do not belong in captivity.

    Earlier this year, U.S. Representative from California Adam Schiff remarked in a speech to congress, “It’s time to phase out killer whale captivity.”

    Assemblymember Rendon – the “Shamu” show has got to go.

    Enact AB-2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act.

    Thank you for taking my comments.

    Respectfully yours,

    cc: The Honorable Richard Bloom
    California State Assembly
    Post Office Box 942849
    Room 2179
    Sacramento, California 94249-0050

    The Honorable Adam Schiff
    2411 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515

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