Monday, November 9, 2015

Seaworld to End Killer Whale Shows

Picture of a killer whale in a Seaworld show.
Seaworld has announced that it will end the killer whale theatrical entertainment show that is held in its San Diego location. After the documentary Blackfish was released in 2013 portraying the cruel treatment of whales by Seaworld park, which results in emotional and physical harm to the whales and danger to whale trainers. As a result of this eye-opening documentary, public opinion of Seaworld has plummeted. Since its release, many celebrities have vocalized their disapproval of this treatment of animals.

During this announcement, Joe Manby, the president and chief executive of Seaworld, emphasized that this decision was reached strictly based on the feedback from the park's guests, not from the public outrage following the release of Blackfish. It's also important to note that other whale shows at Seaworld's locations will continue, and killer whales will still be kept in captivity. Seaworld plans on creating a new exhibit that "will be "an all new orca experience focused on natural environments [of whales]" (Guardian). This announcement was made a few days after California House Representative Adam Schiff said he would "introduce a bill in Congress that would prohibit the breeding, wild capture, and import or export of the whales" (NY Times). Prior to this, Seaworld was actually planning to expand its whale habitat until the California Coastal Commission banned the breeding of killer whales in captivity, which Seaworld believed was an "overreach of the agency's authority" (NY Times).

While this isn't a super political issue, what do you think about this new decision? Also to tie this back to jurisdiction and the executive bureaucracy from last chapter, did the California Coastal Commission have the authority to do limit the freedom of Seaworld to expand its whale exhibit?

NY TimesUSA TodayThe Guardian


Grant Hillman said...

I fully support this decision, and I personally believe that having shows involving Orca whales were a poor idea in the first place. While Orcas are obviously majestic and beautiful animals that customers just can't get enough of, they are also strong, powerful, and potentially very dangerous. There have been several accounts of orcas in zoos and theme parks dragging their trainers into the water and drowning them. I feel that exhibiting orcas and training them to participate in shows is much more different than doing the same with other common show animals, such as dolphins. Dolphins, compared to orcas, are rarely hostile, and are most importantly smaller animals. Orcas, on the other hand, can reach lengths and sizes that are without question unsuitable for the small enclosures they often have to stay in at parks such as Sea World. Many of the violent actions of orcas in theme parks are attributed to the fact that they are forced to occupy such a small space, and become distressed and angry as a result. In my opinion, zoos and theme parks should no longer have orca exhibits, period. While they are obviously a huge draw that is fantastic for business, you must think of the detriments to the animals themselves. I believe that they are simply too large and too powerful to successfully exhibit without issue.

Rachael Howard said...

I support this decision to limit if not get rid of orca exhibits everywhere. It's simply not realistic to keep an animal of that size in that small of a tank, and even if they were to make the tanks larger, it would be so big that it really just isn't practical. The main reason I am so against Seaworld is that when they do have orca shows, the main focus isn't education. The main focus of their shows is entertainment. If the main focus was education and teaching people what they can do to help orcas and stop ocean pollution then it wouldn't be as bad. I have always thought this was a very hypocritical situation because animal abuse is a huge thing when it comes to dogs, cats, or horses; but when it comes to orcas and other sea life it is not as big of a deal. I think that it is about time that Congress introduces new laws that fix this hypocrisy. I do not think that in any way shape or form that this is an over reach of power.

Sameer Jain said...

I think that the decision is a step in the right direction. I do think that there is more work that needs to be done regarding animal treatment in water parks, though. Responding to Grant's comment, I believe that the use of both dolphins and Killer Whales is a demonstration of animal cruelty. Often times, dolphins end up drowning themselves out of stress, just because of the lack of space. Even though dolphins are relatively less hostile and smaller, they still require a large amount of space.

Regarding the original post, I think that the California Coastal Commission does have the authority to limit Seaworld's whale exhibit, because the purpose of the organization is to "protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental... resources of the California coast and ocean." I think that regulating the use of whales pertains to this interest, and does indeed fall in the hands of the California Coastal Commission. The power to regulate and set these kinds of restrictions comes from the California state government, as we learned from the bureaucracy chapter.

Hannah Fontanos said...

I also support Seaworld's decision to end their killer whale shows. As a small child, I enjoyed Seaworld's killer whale shows and really liked watching them. I still think it's fascinating to watch killer whales, but I am glad that Seaworld has decided to put a stop to the abuse of killer whales in their San Diego park. While I hope to see Seaworld completely stop their whale shows, I think it would be impractical for them because the whale shows make a large profit.
I agree with Sameer that the California Coastal Commission has the authority to limit Seaworld's whale exhibit. The California Coastal Commission's exercise of power is justified because it relates to the regulation of California's coast and ocean, which is the purpose of the commission.