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Would you visit SeaWorld? On Whales and Dolphins Captivity and Slaughter

It was Friday night. My phone beeped.

I wondered who would be messaging me at that time. Most of my friends with kids would be busy with families/dinner time/sleep time etc. The ones without kids would be in a bar somewhere enjoying life.

I picked up phone and was surprised to see a comment on the blog on the Dubai Dolphinarium post. I logged into wordpress to read the comment. I assumed all along it probably was someone to ask about entry price or something such about the Dolphinarium or the Children’s City.

I was surprised to read this comment from a reader:

It is heartbreaking to hear a blogger recommend the Dubai Dolphinarium for children. The dolphins displayed in Dubai were obtained from Taiji drive fisheries where the young are selected for dolphinariums and their parents are slaughtered for fertilizer. Dolphins are highly intelligent beings that live life spans much like mans the difference being their home is the ocean. By attending the Dubai Dolphinarium you rob a dolphin family, a dolphin child of it’s freedom, home, and family. I doubt you will publish my comment but please think about what I am saying. Is it right that the people of the sea give up their lives for your children’s entertainment. Please watch Blackfish and The Cove.

Are you going to post this comment?” Vipul asked.

“Of course”, I responded.

As a parent I owed it to myself and my kid and my family to learn about something that I know nothing about. I looked up the movies The Cove and Blackfish on Wikipedia.

What I read horrified me.

I wanted to watch the movies before forming any opinion.

Fast forward to Saturday night.

We were at home and I watched both Blackfish and The Cove.

What I saw was even more horrifying.

Incase you don’t anything about the movies, Blackfish documents the life journey of a killer whale named Tilikum. It shows how the whale was separated from his mother when he was a baby (as a mom this is so hard to swallow), and then spent all his life in captivity in cement pools with other whales. They are trained using food deprivation techniques – which any animal trainer would agree are the worst. Its no wonder that the life spent in captivity causes stress, fights, and distress that manifests in attacks on trainers, each other etc. 

Its tragic that how mega-corporations like Seaworld, hide some of this information from the trainers and then blame them when the mammal attacks for lack of precaution/safety etc.

Now after several years of media and activists pressure, Tilikum is kept in separate pool and does only one act; kept around for his sperm!

If Blackfish movie is about the larger cetaceans, then The Cove is about the smaller ones – Dolphins. Systematically every year, in Taiji, Japan, from September to April, Dolphins are caught. Young ones are separated from their parents and sold to Dolphinariums, Swim with Dolphin programs and other places where you get to see Dolphin acts. These dolphins are shipped all over the world.

Rest are all brutally slaughtered. For cultural tradition reasons. And citing that they eat other smaller fish. The entire cove turns bloody with the slaughtered animals. The meat although toxic (mercury poisoning) is sold all over the world.

Maybe the movies are biased. Maybe the comments have been taken out of context. Documentaries such as this are usually laced with an agenda/motive. Even if you think for a moment that the whales and dolphins are well treated, have most passionate care in the world and don’t have stress in captivity, why should we think that its ok for them to entertain us day in and day out?

Even if it is a golden prison, it is still a prison!

And do we learn anything from it? Not really! Nothing that I remember after the visit about the animals.

Probably such cruelty happens in Zoo’s and other wild life parks as well. So unless it is a true not for profit conservation center, its best to stay clear of these places.

I have seen Dolphins and Orcas in the wild. It truly is a pleasure to see them in the wild. You eagerly look for them to leap out of the water. Even if you see only one on the excursion you feel thrilled. They are in their natural habitat. They swim for miles.

I have seen Dolphins in captivity. In Singapore Sentosa Island and Dubai Dolphinarium.

What I didn’t know then was about how these beautiful animals are separated from their parents, the grief of the parents when the child goes missing, how they are trained and made to live in cramped quarters or worse killed for their meat.

These business’s exist because we create a demand. My son never asked me to take him to see fishes. I thought he may like it and hence I took him there.If we eliminate this demand, there is no reason for Dolphins and Whales to be hunted, to be separated from their parents, to be shipped all the way across the world – for entertainment or food.

We wouldn’t knowingly support terrorism or contribute to their funds. Then why this?

I had heard about Shamu the whale all the way across in India when I was younger. But I never heard about Blackfish, The Cove, Death at Seaworld and other such documentaries on this topic. Such is the power of marketing and PR of the uber corporations who have vested needs to let this animal captivity continue.

As we cannot really turn back time, and return the whales to the wild, SeaWorld should probably make sure that the animals have more natural pools and space while they are in captivity, focus on keeping “pods” together and not separate them for business or worse create artificial foster families.

Till then, I will not take my son to Sea World or Dolphinarium or any such places. Or for that matter even have Shark fin soup.

What Can I Do About This?

1. Don’t take my word – watch these documentaries online. Netflix, GooglePlay , FreeVideo.Me etc have it available. Read counter views and form your own opinion.

2. Spread the word: Please share this post with your Facebook, Google+, Twitter friends. Or Email the link to them.

3. Don’t buy a ticket! Its something that can be easily done without feeling deprived.

Corporations and business’es understand $$. When the inflow stops/reduces they make changes. Remember Walmart and MacDonald’s making changes to their HR and menu policies (respectively).

4. Don’t eat/buy Dolphin meat/Shark fin meat – even for your pets.

Not because it is culturally wrong or anything but simply because its toxic. Would you eat beef from a cow infected with Mad Cow Disease? Its the same thing here. And with it being in pet food or mislabeled, be extra careful!

Together we can stop this madness.

PS SeaWorld posted  record breaking attendance and quarter today and are looking forward to an ever bigger return in 2014. But SeaWorld had to spend a lot on PR, Groupon deals etc to make this happen. What you make of it, I will leave it up to you.

Other Resources to Learn About Cetaceans in Captivity and Taiji Dolphin Capture/Slaughter:

1. Champions for Cetaceans

2. World Cetacean Alliance

3. Save the Whales

4. Dolphin Meat Toxic to Humans

5. Minamata disease and Dolphin meat

6. Dolphin meat Toxic Waste

7. Taiji, The Captive Connection

8. Whale meat in pet food

7. Counter Arguments : My Problem with Blackfish, Message as Dubious as its Methods, On Dolphin Slaughter and Culture

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