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It's Not All Fun Times and Flips

The Dark Side of SeaWorld



SeaWorld, to the outside looking in, may look like a fun and carefree park where dolphins and orcas perform flips and tricks. However, there are dark sides to SeaWorld that have begun to emerge to the public eye. The park keeps their animals in enclosures that are not fit to their size. These animals, once in captivity, do not become free. There have also been countless accusations that SeaWorld abuses their animals physically and psychologically.  


Marine animals, such as orca whales and dolphins, are meant to have free range of the ocean, not remain stuck in small tanks. Captivity neglects the natural instincts and intelligence of animals; it neglects how outside of their pens, orcas are meant to swim boundlessly, and how they have an evolutionary need to hunt, explore, and communicate with each other — nothing of which can take place within a concrete boundary.

Even though these tanks might appear large to  humans, they are not nearly big enough for large marine life. It is also incredibly unlikely that these animals will ever be released from captivity due to the fact that they have been in captivity too long or were bred in captivity. 


“No legitimate wildlife sanctuary in the world allows its animals to breed,” Animal Welfare Institute staff Naomi Rose said. “The production of more captive orcas must stop, as they suffer regardless of their origin.”


The whales are housed in concrete and glass enclosures within SeaWorld's parks, where they will more likely than not stay for the rest of their lives. The best case scenario would be for the parks to build sea pens. Sea pens are netted enclosures next to open water that still allow people to monitor and take care of the whales. The dilemma with this is that a single sea pen costs up to five million dollars. While the sea pens are extremely expensive, the expense is worth the cost of animal welfare. 


There have also been multiple cases of trainers leaving SeaWorld and then coming forward with what really went on behind closed doors at the park. An example of this is John Hargrove, who came out with the book “Beneath The Surface.” Hargrove dives into the lives of orcas in the park and compares it to the life they should be living out in the wild. 


Captivity is not the only issue SeaWorlds marine life faces, there have been many indicators that these animals face physical and psychological abuse. Up to 140 dolphins are crammed into just seven tanks where they are forcibly bred after they’ve been drugged. They are also overused in these circus style shows, forced to carry the weight of humans constantly riding on their backs and faces. There have been some instances where dolphins have been photographed with open wounds and scars on their faces and are still continuing to be used. 


While wildlife rehabilitation is crucial, SeaWorld is not doing that. They are exploiting animals for money instead of putting their needs first. While there are other companies that work to help animals, SeaWorld is not one of them. Instead of putting their money towards places like SeaWorld, the public should support legitimate animal sanctuaries to do more for animals' well being.

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Andy Poll

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