Sunday, January 8th, marked the final "One Ocean" show at SeaWorld in San Diego. The popular show has received increasing criticism in recent years for its poor treatment of orcas. Instead of continuing this show, SeaWorld claims to be producing a more educational, informative show in its place titled "Orca Encounter." Even though the name of the show is changing, many animal activists assert that the treatment of the killer whales will not.
A recent NPR article about the ordeal highlighted quotes from SeaWorld executives who claim that the new show will demonstrate "a series of more natural behaviors typical of killer whales in the wild." The SeaWorld-San Diego website now features a description of their "Killer Whale Presentation" as "educational."
Fresh U caught up with three animal-loving college freshmen from across the nation to ask them their opinion on SeaWorld-San Diego's claimed switch from an entertaining to educational performance. Their reactions are as follows.
Alec Hilton – Washington University, St. Louis – Anthropology, with an emphasis in Global Health and Environment
"Orcas, like any animal, have natural tendencies that cannot be addressed properly in a captive setting. Captivity in a relatively small tank for their size creates a large amount of stress for the animal. This stress shortens the life considerably and allows the animal to be more susceptible to illnesses. Not only that, but the orcas at SeaWorld are forced to perform which creates more stress for the orca. It must not be forgotten that orcas are highly social animals which exist in pods of 20 individuals. This cannot be be replicated in a feasible manner for captivity...SeaWorld ending their shows in the San Diego park is a good first step to treating the intelligent dolphins correctly, but MANY more steps need to be taken in order to ensure that the orcas are being treated in a humane manner." *
Diana Pope – Bryn Mawr College – Political Science
"I think it's imperative that SeaWorld stop the captivity of orcas. It's appalling that SeaWorld would risk both the lives of its orcas and trainers for the shows. Most of the orcas that are born into captivity can only live 5-10 years, which is a lot less than their normal lifespan. These organisms are psychologically traumatized after their time in SeaWorld, and deserve better treatment. Think about it: if you held a human in a bathtub like these orcas, wouldn't they go psychotic as well?"
Stephanie Bradshaw – University of British Columbia – Applied Animal Biology
"SeaWorld is not stopping the Orca shows, they are replacing them with what they claim to be 'educational' shows. I do not trust that this will improve the educational quality. SeaWorld has yet to admit that they repeatedly present false information on Orca behavior, lifespan, appearance, and more. Most importantly, SeaWorld is not addressing the claims of mistreatment outside their shows. The whales are not receiving any significantly improved care or environment, the only thing being changed is the presentation to the human audience; this perfectly reflects SeaWorld's focus: humans, not whales."
Hopefully, SeaWorld will prove its critics wrong, and improve the lives of the killer whales it uses to "educate" the animal-loving SeaWorld visitors.
Lead Image Credit: Pixabay
* Editor's Note: SeaWorld does not plan on ending their shows completely, just revamping them to be more "educational." For more information, see the aforementioned NPR article.