Seaworld attendence rises, company makes a comeback


Source: National Geographic and WDC Graphic by Denaya Lewis

Denaya Lewis, Opinion Writer

It is no secret that orca whales should not be kept in captivity. It can be hands down the worst thing to do to sea animals. But businesses like SeaWorld still use these animals for cruel human entertainment. Seaworld is “a chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums, animal theme parks, and rehabilitation centers, that keep animals captive in small, featureless tanks.”

The 2013 film ‘Blackfish’ highlights the company’s treatment of orca whales and trainers. After several years of educating the public that SeaWorld using wild animals for amusement is animal abuse, people are still supporting them.

According to Orlando Sentinel, “SeaWorld attendance has risen 4.8 percent in second-quarter attendance to over 6 million people. Revenue rose 4.9 percent to $392 million, and the company reported a profit of $23 million a year. The SeaWorld stock has risen over 12 percent in the last year.”

Source: Statista and Orlando Weekly
Graphic by Sydney Hamilton

There have been reports of orcas being sunburned and covered in black zinc oxide, kidnapping wild whales from their families, accidental killings from attempting to catch orcas, orca aggression against trainers, leading to major injuries and even death, and collapsed dorsal fins due to living in unnatural surroundings.

Although they are planning on stopping orca shows by 2019, it does not mean they have learned from their mistakes. There are reports of SeaWorld breaking animal protection laws multiple times.

On January 11, 2012, the USDA issued an official warning to SeaWorld in San Antonio for its “repeated failure to provide drain covers that are securely fastened in order to minimize the potential risk of animal entrapment”—a violation that resulted in the death of a sea lion.

In March 2013, the USDA conducted an investigation and cited the marine park for several violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including the use of expired surgical materials, some almost a decade old. This was prompted by PETA’s complaint about a child who had been bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld.

“The USDA also documented that a dolphin tank and the areas surrounding the orca performance tank were in disrepair and contained cracked and crumbling concrete and rusty beams that could pose a threat to the health and safety of both the animals and workers,” said the Tampa Bay Times.

The USDA pointed out that the unsafe conditions “might create a health risk if these pieces of concrete fall off into the pool and get ingested, or if they become abrasive” and that they “do not facilitate cleaning and disinfection.” These are just a few reasons why SeaWorld needs to be shut down as soon as possible. Wild animals should not be used for entertainment, especially if it is unsafe and detrimental to their health.

The only way to end terrible animal abuse is to educate the public about the reality these animals face. The widely seen film ‘Blackfish’ was a good start but we need to do more. Activists, such as PETA, stopped talking about it, and naturally people forgot. It stopped trending on the internet and people stopped caring. This is still a terrible reality for animals who were ripped away from their family and forced to do shows for human entertainment.

We could propose bills to end the orca and killer whale shows. Two members of the U.S. House from California are proposing a federal study on the impact of captivity on large marine animals, citing “serious concerns about the psychological and physical harm” to orcas in captivity. Although the bill to close SeaWorld was pushed back for state revenue reasons, bringing it to congress is the first step.

The only other way we can shut down SeaWorld is to not give them money, which over time will shut down their business. Even though this is not the fastest way to shut them down, the public needs to know that this is wrong, and we shouldn’t support this. Animals are not here for humans’ amusement and entertainment. They should not be taken out of their natural habitat and used for things like this, it is cruel and wrong.