Sea-Change: Tour Operators Should Make the Leap and Stop Selling Tickets To SeaWorld
In the wake of the resignation of SeaWorld’s CEO yesterday due to a drop in profit, Care for the Wild is renewing calls for tourism companies to boycott dolphinariums.
It has been reported that SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison resigned this week following months of falling visitor numbers, and continuing bad publicity in the wake of the film Blackfish. Blackfish claimed that SeaWorld’s treatment of killer whales had led to a fatal attack by Tilikum on a trainer.
Care for the Wild International, which runs the www.RIGHT-tourism.org campaign to help animals used for tourism, say that the time is right for dolphinariums to stop using dolphins and killer whales for entertainment, but they are only likely to do that if they are put under pressure.
Chris Pitt, Care for the Wild’s Campaigns Manager said: “There’s a sea-change happening because people are starting to understand that intelligent, social and active animals like dolphins and killer whales should not be kept penned up and should not be made to dance for our entertainment. In the wild dolphins can swim hundreds of kilometres a day, so to keep them in a swimming pool, even a big swimming pool, is nothing but cruelty.
“It’s time that the tour operators and travel agents who sell tickets to dolphinariums like SeaWorld make a stand on this issue. There’s enough scientific evidence around now to understand that dolphins and killer whales will be suffering in captivity. So it’s a clear choice for tour operators like Virgin Travel and others – do you support animal cruelty? If you don’t, then stop making money out of it.”
In addition to the suffering of dolphins and killer whales in captivity, even if they are born there, an additional issue is the ‘dolphin drives’ in places such as Taiji, Japan, where pods of dolphins are rounded up into a cove. Many are killed, brutally with a stick shoved into their blow hole, while the youngest and cutest are sold to dolphinariums around the world.
Chris Pitt added: “The method of obtaining dolphins for captivity is inhumane. Some dolphinariums no longer need to use wild-caught dolphins because they have enough breeding stock, but the race is on for smaller dolphinariums to emulate the likes of SeaWorld, and to do that they need fresh, wild dolphins.
“We’re asking tour operators to make a stand on this, and we’ve picked on Virgin Travel particularly because Richard Branson has publicly condemned the dolphin drives at Taiji. But it takes no more than the leap of a dolphin to go from the brutal killing to a performance at a show. Please, Sir Richard, make the leap, and get Virgin Travel, who are admirably responsible in many ways, out of this murky business.”
Supporters of SeaWorld will claim that the facility has extremely high standards, and is doing no more ‘wrong’ than the hundreds of thousands of zoos around the world.
Chris Pitt said: “We could debate all day as to whether zoos should exist at all, but the point is that right now they do. Our Zoo Review project aims to rate zoos, dolphinariums and animal attractions so that if people feel the need to go to a zoo, they can at least pick the ones which treat the animals well, and put effort into education and conservation.
“But getting dolphins to perform tricks is not zoo behaviour, it’s circus behaviour. Watching a dolphin jump through a hoop may inspire us as to the ability of the animal, but it also teaches us that animals are here purely for our use. That perception has a knock-on effect leading to animal cruelty on a massive scale. Dolphins are amazing, but if you want to see them, find a responsible, ethical way of doing it – in the wild.”
Read the Daily Mail story on SeaWorld CEO Resignation