A couple days ago, SeaWorld caused an internet-frenzy by announcing that their San Diego park will ban orca shows beginning in 2017. This decision was made by CEO Joel Manby in order to shift SeaWorld’s focus to providing customers with a more “natural” experience. Since Speak Up For Blue is all about the conservation and protection of orcas, we thought it was only natural for us to evaluate these new, “natural” conditions for SeaWorld orcas.
Does the ban on San Diego orca shows mean that these whales, whom SeaWorld bred and raised solely for our entertainment, will have the opportunity to live outside the walls of the park? Well, no, since SeaWorld will not be releasing any orcas. But at least they’ll spend their days swimming around the wonderful habitat the park gives them right? The one they’re hoping to expand to 5.2 million gallons? I mean, that’s a lot of gallons. Well, it turns out that for an animal that swims 75 miles per day, that’s like keeping a person in a room 100 feet long.
Ok, so they’re still kind of stuck in the tank, albeit a slightly larger one. What about the other things Blackfish brought up, like their social lives? SeaWorld hasn’t given any indication that it will alter its practice of separating orca calves from their mothers, or designing artificial “pods” by cohabitating multiple orcas from different populations. Also, let’s not forget that orcas at SeaWorld will remain on display to thousands of visitors each day whether they’re performing or not.
So yes, the fact that SeaWorld will no longer hold orca shows at one if its parks is a win. But let’s keep it in perspective. Prior to this announcement, orcas at SeaWorld lived in atrociously small tanks, were members of forced artificial “pods”, spent half their day on display for thousands of people, and were required to go through stressful and confusing behaviors regularly. After this announcement, orcas at SeaWorld will live in atrociously small tanks, will be members of forced artificial “pods”, and will spend their entire day on display for thousands of people. Don’t get me wrong, the ban on orca shows is a positive step. We still just have a long way to go.
Enjoy the Podcast!