In 2013, the controversial documentary Blackfish was released. The film was almost like a psychological thriller about whales that are kept in captivity, describing how one whale alone was responsible for the death of 3 people due to psychotic behaviour, allegedly brought on by his captivity at SeaWorld. It’s difficult to imagine walking away from this film without harbouring some serious doubts about the ethicality of attending places like Seaworld, and other parks that showcase and exploit marine animals for profit.
This movie opened up so many people’s eyes to what being kept in captivity really does to these animals that, as a result, Seaworlds profits have taken a dramatic loss. In their second-quarter earnings statement, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. reported a shocking 84 percent decline in earnings compared to a year ago. Seaworld stated that “brand challenges” were responsible for the decline.
Brand challenges? Seems kind of obvious what this means. People no longer want to support the exploitation of these animals by giving their money to groups like SeaWorld. They don’t want to see isolated orcas, who have been separated from their families, left to go insane in small concrete tanks.
Adapt Or Die?
If a business is unable to accommodate the demands of its consumers, then eventually it will collapse. So what is SeaWorld trying to do to clean up its act?
SeaWorld has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to combat the claims many animal rights activists have made about their parks, such as the fact that orcas in captivity die earlier than their wild cousins. Plans have been made to open up a shark exhibition in Orlando, as well as an attraction in San Antonio that will give customers the opportunity to swim with dolphins in a “naturalistic” setting. Great – even more animals in captivity. I fail to see the sense in this course of action.
In the works is also something called the “Blue World Project,” which is a long term plan to increase the size of the tanks the orcas are kept in by nearly double.
They have also tried cutting ticket prices and have spent around $10 million on marketing that features veterinarians caring for the whales. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby admits that the company is still struggling to convince the public that it treats its whales well. I believe that the main issue here, however, is not about how nice the staff is treating the whales at SeaWorld, but the mere fact of their captivity. These are giant sentient beings, meant to live in the vast ocean and in pods, and they are being kept in captivity in devastatingly small pools.
Another Example Of How We Can Create Change Directly
Yes, SeaWorld is still in business, but the fact that their profits have seen a significant decline in such a short period of time makes a huge statement about how we, the consumer, can directly impact the world we live in. If sales continue to plummet as they have thus far, SeaWorld will have no choice but to shut its doors forever.
This is also a great example of how spreading awareness (i.e. this documentary) can lead to some big time changes. The first step to create is awareness, so it is important to spread the word and stand up for what you believe in. We do have the power to create the type of world we want to live in.
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