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