by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate
Born Free USA's Canadian Representative
Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry's your man. (And we're happy to have him as part of our team, too!)
Knowledge and appreciation
The following blog series is a point-by-point rebuttal to SeaWorld, following SeaWorld's critical reaction to the controversial 2013 documentary, Blackfish. Each blog entry will present an argument made by SeaWorld and a rebuttal by Barry MacKay.
Knowledge and appreciation:
After admitting that two of its captive orcas were, in fact, wild caught, SeaWorld states: “In addition, our research has led to much greater important scientific insights surrounding marine mammal reproduction.” The argument is a non sequitur. All hard data, no matter the origin, provides “scientific insight,” although its “importance” depends on what needs it serves. World War I provided “scientific insight” into the effects of mustard gas on human lungs, and that insight can certainly be important—but that does not justify the use of mustard gas, or war, or the methodology by which the “scientific insight” was obtained.
Scientists cannot help orcas to breed in the wild via methodologies perfected by the zoo and aquarium industry, nor is there any reason to do so. Wild orcas know how to breed; they have been doing it for at least 2.6 million years, and their ancestors for many millions of years before that. (The oldest orca fossils date to the Pliocene ere, 3.5 to 2.6 million years ago). What we need to do is maintain a viable environment in which they can survive.