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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

SeaWorld. Lesson learned or ignored?

Published 03/02/10
By Adam M. Roberts, Executive Vice President

I am a naysayer. A wet blanket. Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. A mean, Grinch-like scrooge of a man out to ruin every family’s good time out.

Of course I am. Because I think that wild animals belong in the wild and want them kept out of captivity. This is how I’m perceived (by some). So negative. Wanting to ban everything. Taking away family fun.

When will I ... we ... animal advocates, stop being thought of as curmudgeonly and instead be looked to as sensible beacons of compassionate wisdom?

Born Free USA opposes the keeping of exotic wild animals in cruel conditions in zoos. It’s bad for the animals and it’s bad for people. The animals hurt someone, escape, even cause a human death, as was the case with Tatiana the tiger in the San Francisco Zoo, and the captivity apologists line up to defend animals behind bars. A one in a million chance. It never happens. Rarer than being attacked by a dog or struck by lightning. Does all that make it humane for the animal? Does all that bring a dead boy back to life?

Born Free USA opposes the keeping of exotic wild animals as “pets.” It’s bad for the animals and it’s bad for people. Primates bite. They hurt people. And then Travis the chimpanzee in Connecticut attacks Charla Nash, ripping apart her skin and her limbs, terrifying people — including the police — and ultimately resulting in a painfully disfigured woman and a dead chimpanzee. A one in a million chance. It never happens. Rarer than being attacked by a dog or struck by lightning. Does all that make it humane for Travis? Does all that bring him back to life? Does it repair Charla Nash’s devastated life?

And now SeaWorld and another killer whale “accident.” Or was it an accident waiting to happen? Born Free USA opposes cruelly keeping wild animals in captivity for entertainment. It’s bad for the animals and it’s bad for people. Orcas belong in the waters off Iceland — not in a tank in major cities across America.

And after the SeaWorld death, here comes Jack Hanna. In a CNN interview he carefully says: “This is the first time this has happened ... at a Sea World Park ... with a trainer ...” What will he add next time? “... on a Thursday when the temperature was lower than 74 degrees”?

Want the whole truth about killer whales in captivity? About SeaWorld San Diego, where trainer Kenneth Peters was bitten and held underwater several times by a 7,000-pound killer whale during a show. About the San Antonio SeaWorld where Ky, a resident orca, tried to hit, repeatedly submerge, and bite his trainer of ten years. About Sealand of the Pacific, a marine park in Victoria, British Columbia, where Tilikum, along with two other orca whales, Nootka and Haida, prevented an experienced trainer from getting out of the tank after falling in, dragging her underwater for more than 20 minutes, drowning her.

It simply cannot be okay that these incidents happen. Hanna and his brethren simply cannot ignore it all, brush it aside, and pretend that it’s all worth the risk.

No one needs to see a tiger behind bars. It’s not conservation and it’s not education. No one needs to keep a primate as a “pet.” No one needs to see orcas performing tricks in a tank.

No one needs to be mauled or die in the name of human amusement. It’s just not worth it.

Blogging off,

Adam

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