Dolphins always seem to smile. Maybe it's just how their mouths are shaped. Or maybe it’s the Valium? In any case, the smiles are misleading.
SeaWorld officials recently admitted that their marine mammals are given anti-anxiety drugs.
And yet a SeaWorld executive told NPR, "We don't put any animal in any stressful situation.”
So… are the drugs simply recreational?
Being a “show animal” isn’t luxurious. It’s so stressful that many dolphins and whales become insane. For example, a whale might repeatedly bang its head against a wall. These animals have shortened life expectancies -- and sometimes they attack people, as documented in the film Blackfish. (See the trailer below.) Consequently some of the most prominent anti-SeaWorld activists are former animal trainers.
Here’s some SeaWorld dirt followed by actions you can take on behalf of our flippered friends.
SeaWorld’s Parking Lot Sizes vs. Tank Sizes
How is space used at SeaWorld? A shocking amount of real estate is devoted to parking. Meanwhile, dolphins and whales who would naturally swim 100 miles/day are confined to tiny tanks.
This aerial image of SeaWorld Orlando helps explain why some call SeaWorld an “abusement park.” Notice the large parking lot outlined in orange. The smaller orange area outlined beneath the artificial lake is where orca whales spend their entire lives!
Similar maps of other SeaWorld properties are shown at TheDodo.com.
It's About Profit, Not Animal Conservation
With all that parking space for visitors -- along with government funds and high ticket prices -- SeaWorld manages to profit millions of dollars every year. Little of that money actually protects animals.
Whales.org calculated that for every $1,000,000 taken in, SeaWorld donates approximately $600 to animal conservation. That works out to approximately five cents per ticket sold.
SeaWorld Separates Animals' Families
Orca whales are family-oriented. A female can live for up to 90 years in the wild, and her children stick around lifelong. Up to four generations travel the ocean together. Each family or pod develops its own dialect.
SeaWorld claims that it no longer separates calves from mothers. However, the truthiness of that claim depends on how you define “calf.” SeaWorld is apparently done with baby-stealing, but they still remove “kids” from families. (I am my mother’s kid whether I am a newborn, two years old or 10 years old.)
A former SeaWorld orca trainer named John Hargrove reported knowing of 19 SeaWorld calves who were taken from their families in the name of human entertainment.
How to Help Marine Mammals
1. Don’t pay SeaWorld. Captivity isn’t about conservation. It’s about profit. Thanks in part to the documentaries Blackfish and The Cove, SeaWorld profits recently dropped 84%!
Below is a trailer for Blackfish. The film tells the story of a whale held captive at SeaWorld, his psychosis and the trainers he killed.
If you’re planning a family trip near a SeaWorld location, avoid visiting the park for entertainment. One alternative is to watch dolphins and whales from the deck of a responsible eco-tourism ship.
2. Support charities for sea mammals. A main charity advocating for marine life is The Dolphin Project. This nonprofit organization was started in 1970 by a former animal trainer named Ric O’Barry. He left the orca/dolphin training business after working with Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper on 1960s television. She had suffered from captivity and died in his arms.
For 45 years The Dolphin Project has helped many dolphins worldwide. Right now the group is actively protecting dolphins from getting captured off the shores of Japan.
Other top nonprofit groups are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
3. Write letters, make phone calls & vote.
4. Educate your friends. Dolphins don't actually write haiku. It's up to humans to educate each other and make a difference. Share this page with a friend!