I still choose to support SeaWorld

Three years ago, before Blackfish, if you asked my opinion of killer whales at SeaWorld I would have told you I stand confidently behind the organization intent on providing research to benefit whales in their natural environment. I would have told you I have made a great effort to teach my daughter whales belong in the ocean but science makes it necessary for us to study whales in captivity. Just after the world was stunned by Blackfish, I shared why I choose to support SeaWorld. And now years later with the news of the end to the killer whale breeding program, I still choose to support SeaWorld.

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Blackfish effectively changed the public’s perception of whales in captivity but my opinion has not changed. 

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My seven year old daughter is the SeaWorld Guest Kid Blogger. Because of my daughter’s role in sharing content about the park and animals, I have been asked countless times by friends and other social influencers in the past two weeks to share my opinion on SeaWorld’s recent announcement of the end to their killer whale breeding program essentially announcing the current whales will be the last in SeaWorld’s care. The future of SeaWorld has changed. But what has not changed is the true passion to educate and teach the world to care for animals so our future can learn to appreciate them too.

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While I can certainly share my opinion, it is not my place to determine right or wrong. We have completely separate issues impacting how SeaWorld’s decision is being viewed – the public’s perception and the true benefit to the whales. We are constantly evolving and with that evolution comes new mindsets and opinions. Blackfish started a movement. In my opinion, a movement of ignorance. Watch the film; you will be moved. However, like any dramatic theatrical performance, you know nothing more than the actors tell you. You know nothing more than the film portrays. Sadly my opinion and all those like mine were not big enough to make a difference. SeaWorld is changing. While we don’t yet know what those changes might bring, I do know my opinion of SeaWorld remains the same.

At just seven years old, my daughter has visited countless zoos and aquariums. She has a beautiful connection to nature and a deep desire to learn about animals. From her very first visit to the beach, she was drawn to the ocean. Her many visits to SeaWorld beginning as a toddler taught her so much about the oceans and why it’s important to learn about conservation so animals can continue to live in their natural environments. No other zoo or aquarium has made such an impact on her desire to work with animals. No other zoo or aquarium has taught her so much about saving animals to offer a second chance at life. No other zoo or aquarium has provided an up close experience with animals alongside employees truly passionate to teach. No other zoo or aquarium is full of employees like SeaWorld’s. Over the past three years they have endured extreme scrutiny for following their passion. Their commitment to teaching the public about animals and conservation offered absolutely no indication of the challenges faced by SeaWorld to my young daughter. SeaWorld is a safe place to her, a place where she can ask as many questions as she would like and always be answered with nothing short of enthusiasm for a child interested in science. The relationships we have built at SeaWorld, both with the animals and staff, are real. So yes, SeaWorld is changing but no, my opinion of SeaWorld has not. I will forever be appreciative of every SeaWorld employee we have encountered for their desire to work with animals and teach children like my daughter why conservation is important. Without our children recognizing the need for conservation our world will be a much different place. Every single employee deserves recognition for the effort they make to continue caring for animals and teaching others how to make a difference.

I feel disheartened knowing my children might not have the same opportunity we have had watching them see a whale up close for the first time or learning as they observe a trainer working with the beautiful animals. I shared the news of today’s killer whales being the last at SeaWorld with my daughter. She sat quietly for a moment and then asked how people will learn about whales. Before I had a chance to respond she answered her own question with, “I can help teach about them.” Yes, yes she can. And it’s because of every single animal and staff encounter she’s had at SeaWorld that she confidently declares she can help make a difference too. My daughter reminded me while the entire world is focused on how SeaWorld will handle the loss of killer whales at the park, we all should be thanking every single employee that has worked relentlessly to make a difference. I still choose to support SeaWorld.

Thank you SeaWorld.

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See more about our experiences at SeaWorld San Diego and read my original post about why I choose to support SeaWorld written in 2014. A few of my favorite visits include my daughter learning that girls can be anything they want to be from Miss California and learning about a killer whale trainer’s first hand experience with whales.

Connect with SeaWorld on FacebookInstagram, and with Clyde the Sea Lion on Twitter to learn more about the parks and special events.  

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I love her answer – “I can teach them!” What an amazing opportunity for her to learn up close all these years! I can’t wait to watch her continue to grow and develop as an animal lover and supporter!

  2. 5

    Camilla says

    Well written! My son, 8 years, and I are definitely going to SeaWorld when we visit Orlando in April. Thank you for bringing a different perspective to the debate.

  3. 7

    Tamara says

    I’m very grateful for this, for your perspective on these changes. I am still going to take my son to SeaWorld. I will still fight to spread the truth about SeaWorld. Thank you.

    • 8

      says

      The support is appreciated. While we might not agree with the change, there will always be conflict, but we can all agree to continuing acknowledging the impact of every employee.

  4. 10

    Tracey says

    Take her to see whales and dolphins in the wild where they can truly display normal behaviours. Teach her about humane treatment of animals and explain to her about how they are ripped from their families in order to entertain for food.

    • 12

      says

      Thank you for your comment. If you explore my blog a bit you will see she is a very well rounded caring, intelligent, and open minded child. She has always known whales belong in the oceans as we have taken her many many times to see them in their natural environments. SeaWorld has never misled her, or any of the public rather, to believe whales in captivity is natural. As her mommy I fully support her educational experiences and true understanding of the scientific benefits of animals in zoological facilities.

      • 13

        Tami says

        Tracey, all of those orcas at SeaWorld, except the original 5, were born there at SeaWorld. The original 5 came to SeaWorld over 20-35 years ago. Please do your research. When the original 5 came to SeaWorld all those years ago, SeaWorld was owned by a whole other company & it was legal back then to capture marine mammals. It is now illegal. Thank you Heather for this. You & your daughter are amazing.

  5. 14

    Sarah lake says

    Why would you want to take children to see whales or any other animal in captivity where any fool can see they are unhappy and with their spirit broken, performing and behaving unnaturally for your entertainment ? that is not a good way of teaching children to respect animals, take them to see wild animals where they should be, in the wild or in the ocean.

    • 15

      says

      Thank you for your comment. To answer your first question, my daughter has a great respect for animals in part because of her many visits to SeaWorld. She has seen first hand how many animals do need human intervention for a second chance at life and also learned the scientific benefit to animals in the wild because of the work done at SeaWorld. She has been whale watching many many times and fully understands the oceans are their natural environment. While we may disagree on the principle I do appreciate that you suggest teaching children to respect animals.

  6. 16

    Jo says

    Well written, the employees deserve so much more. I never visited as a child but I have never been more inspired than any other sanctuary/zoo. Will always love this place!

    • 17

      says

      Thank you for your support. The face of our future lies in education and we are so appreciative of the efforts made by every SeaWorld employee to teach about conservation.

  7. 18

    Brian Goodwin says

    Very well written and it is great, awesome even that your young daughter is so passionate.

    I would ask however to consider this scenario.

    You get a puppy this weekend, you love the puppy and get a crate/kennel to raise puppy.
    You put your beautiful young puppy in the kennel and you never let it out again. Never, never. You play with it, bring vets to care for it, have friends over to interact with it, feed it thoughtfully, actually bring other puppies or dogs even to go in kennel with it and interact with it. Your puppy grows, gets a bigger kennel but never breaths fresh air, never runs, it’s legs grow weak because they aren’t used so it barely moves around it’s kennel, until feeding time, then you make it do tricks for your friends, so you can show how you have complete control and mastery over your dog.
    Because your dog chews constantly on its kennel it’s teeth break and you have to continually flush them can’t put fillings in a dogs teeth), continually provide antibiotics to control the broken teeth that are open wounds, weakening it’s immune system to fight basic illnesses. Your dog is very sensitive to loud noise music bit you place the stereo and TV right next to kennel and every hour on hour during the day you play stereo very loud, every day, 7 days per week.
    You actually breed your dog and instead of waiting traditional 8 weeks for dogs to be with its mom you take the puppies away in 2, 3 or 4 weeks and give them to other people so those puppies can have the same experience that your puppy/dog is experiencing.
    Your dog grows old and dies.
    You proclaim your dog had a great life, people loved your dog, your dog wanted for nothing, got everything T
    YOU think it needed.
    If this is acceptable treatment of a puppy then SeaWorld is a perfect place for you. However if you think more about the whales than your feelings and happiness you might realize you are doing this for your enjoyment, not their well bei g or happiness.
    Prisons are not entertainment, I might suggest teaching your daughter other beings should not give up their freedom and happiness so you can feel good about yourself.
    It’s cruel and completely unnecessary. Teach your daughter empathy, compassion and aceptance. Teach her it’s not our right to enslave animals so we can come view them.

    It’s a ridiculous premise right? Who would ever condone treating a puppy/dog like that.

    Just a thought….

    • 19

      says

      Thank you for your comment. I very much appreciate your respectful approach. While I do agree the scenario you presented is absurd and inhumane I do not agree with how it applies to SeaWorld. However, with that in mind, thank you for your overall concern for animals.

      • 20

        Brian Goodwin says

        I applies to SW in the fact that this is exactly a whales existence in a tank, any tank. Not just SW’s all captive whales & dolphins throughout the world. SW should/could be the leader, not the follower in whales rights. In my opinion whales should not be in concrete prisons, swimming in their own filtered excrement. All the $ you have spent traveling and going to SW you could have taken your lovely, young compassionate daughter to WA and the San Juan islands so she could experience wild Orcas, swimming in straight lines, without collapsed dorsal fins due to atrophy. She could understand these whales stay with their families forever in the wild, unlike SW who separates calves from mothers and treats them as an asset and moves them to another facility/prison. As I previously stated, if you can’t or won’t recognize these whales are suffering for your enjoyment then there is nothing more to say and I feel badly this is the message you are condoning. Empathy is lost in the world today, it is a dying emotion. We should think more about another sentient being, than our own fleeting momentary enjoyment, you and your daughter get to go home after your brief visits, the whales never do.
        Thank you for your time and today, God bless. Peace and Love.

    • 21

      Jen says

      Very well said Brian. Thank you. I used to want to go to Sea World and I once had the opportunity. However, after reading Death at Sea World by David Kirby and hearing what the whales were put through (what Brian described), I quickly changed my mind. I am very passionate about these animals. It is my dream to see them in the wild and not kept in confinement which I will be doing in the next 3 years. Again, thank you Brian for what you said.

  8. 22

    says

    I loved reading your post. Your daughter seems to have such an immense passion for learning about these animals. It’s obvious from your photos that the SeaWorld staff really take the time to work with her so she can understand all there is to know about the animals at SeaWorld. What a special ongoing experience for her. I have a feeling your daughter is going big places! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and family’s experiences with all of us.

    • 23

      says

      Thanks for your support Wendy. The SeaWorld staff deserves recognition and I love that I could help shine a light on them with this post.