Inevitable. Yes, legalities are important if real change is to come about, but surely it has to be recognised that the Commission’s decisions are a reflection of public opinions!
The anti-captivity movement over the last few years will undoubtebly bring about change. The ideal solution would be for SeaWorld to listen to the people and embrace changing morals and opinions. They could become the front runners in caring for the current captives by creating sea pens and initilising soft release programmes, but of course they would need the money, space and legal/public support, which will only come about from rebranding. They have always been about tacky entertainment and exploitation.. After all this bad publicity, it would be so difficult for the SeaWorld leopard to change it’s spots, but it’s not impossible. Either way the redemption or demise of SeaWorld is going to permanently affect the aquarium industry.
The change needs to come from within and it’s happening because of movements such as this. People aren’t comfortable with certain levels of cetacean captivity anymore, just like they weren’t comfortable with mammal captivity in zoos and now we have zoos funded by and invested in conservation projects worldwide and we developed safari parks! Maybe there is a similar future for aquariums.. We just have to break the institution. I think it’s started!
What an incredible achievement!! You can have your tanks SeaWorld, but you can’t fill them!!
Anti-cap protestors everywhere are elated with the Californian Coastal Commission’s decision on SeaWorld’s application to expand their San Diego aquarium. Permission has been granted to go ahead with the expansion, known as ‘Blue World’, on the condition that no breeding will take place! A ban on captive breeding alongside the bans on trade, sale and transfer means that the 11 killer whales captive at SeaWorld San Diego would be their last.
Part of the Blue World project includes larger tanks for San Diego’s current captives. The fear is that the permit conditions will lead to SeaWorld throwing out the expansion plans altogether; with the view that the new tanks will be useless when they can no longer display killer whales. If the expansion plans are to improve the wellbeing of their current captives, as SeaWorld promise, then the ban on breeding should make little difference. But if these plans are laced with sinister, money-making intentions disguised by PR (as we know they are) then withdrawing them will only show them up as the money driven corporation we all know they are. With all the ‘Blackfish’ driven criticism in recent years, will they risk it? Let’s hope they play it as a good PR campaign that will potentially get people back in the park and create revenue. If the anti-cap movement doesn’t eventually lead to sea pens, we can hope that the 11 captives left will at least be able to live out their final days in tanks more considerate of their needs.
So, the question now is; what will SeaWorld do? The Dolphin Project outlined 4 potential moves in a recent blog post. Now we wait.
- Appeal the decision / sue the Commission
- Build Blue World then sue the Commission
- Build Blue World and accept the conditions
- Do nothing
Regardless of SeaWorld’s decision, the Californian Coastal Commission’s decison has been monumental in the anti-captivity movement and proof of the power behind awareness campaigns. Listen to the people and do the right thing, SeaWorld!