When Blackfish was released in cinemas last month, SeaWorld issued a sudden response to the film which we detailed here, along with director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's response. Today, just days before the film is released on DVD in the UK and Ireland, and as the film continues to draw in crowds in US and UK cinemas, SeaWorld San Diego's vice president of zoological operations Michael Scarpuzzi has published an editorial in the U-T San Diego online.
The article has already caused a powerful response from the informed public - find some of the points made by them in reply below.
As a former trainer of 12 years, trainers love the animals and (want to) believe in all the PR they are told Sea World does. I took them at their word about why we medicate, why the teeth are chipped and why they live to 35 years. When I opened my eyes later I saw that the love of my life was lying to me.
I can say that corporate Sea World values the lives of the animals as much as they value a paycheck... I can say that Corporate Sea World values the lives of its trainers as much as they value avoiding another PR nightmare such as Dawn's death. So yes, SW is concerned about the animals welfare and trainer safety... but why and to what extent? Only enough to skate by.
After 10 years with dolphins, sea lions and birds of prey, I was moved to Shamu Stadium. This was after they told trainers they would never have to be at Shamu stadium if they didn't think they were "Shamu Material" (right after the accident with Ken Peters). After the transfer, I told them again I wasn't "Shamu Material"...It took everything in me to admit that I was nervous around the whales, because I was fearful of losing my job. I didn't want to fall in myself or have to rescue a trainer who might accidentally fall in and when I ask to be moved from Shamu stadium to ANY OTHER AREA including a non-animals area, I was told I was to stay at Shamu and because of my new confession, I was to be watched closely for mistakes and any mistake (MISTAKE AROUND A KILLER WHALE) would be grounds for termination. Needless to say- I left. I couldn't believe I was telling them I was nervous around Tilikum and they said they would wait for me to make a mistake working around the animals and then they would fire me. One month later, Dawn died. I'm glad I was shown the door. I owe Sea World a great big THANK YOU for showing me your true colors.
Corporate greed catches up with you no matter how black and white the issue.
To my knowledge, SeaWorld has never spent a dime on wild orca conservation.
This combined with the fact that the SeaWorld captures (and associated killings) of wild orcas from the Southern Resident pod is the primary reason this group of orcas is now endangered. This situation is exacerbated by poor fisheries management, and habitat toxification, but the destruction of the matriarchal bloodlines by SeaWorld in the 60s and 70s is a primary cause.
The public should look at how much of SeaWorld's rescue and rehabilitation efforts are actually funded by government grants--they are paid for by you and me. Most of these efforts do not come from SeaWorld's profits.
Additionally, SeaWorld is currently polluting San Diego Bay further hurting marine life there... I guess so they can then rescue the animals who need help.
Time to make a change to this circus.
Click here for more on the growing backlash against SeaWorld.