Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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“Stop Taking Kids to SeaWorld” Blackfish and the Rise of Moms Saying No to SeaWorld

A new film has moms everywhere talking about whether they’re going to ever take kids to SeaWorld. It’s called Blackfish, and it tells the story of Tilikum, the orca whale that killed Dawn Brancheau, a Sea World trainer, in 2010. At the time, her death was blamed on her decision to wear her hair in a ponytail. I don’t think that’s the reason…

blackfish movie and moms

Blackfish – Magnolia Pictures

I’m not an animal rights person. I eat meat. I own vintage fur coats. I think hunting can serve a purpose. Animals aren’t people. However, I don’t think beating a dog or cat is ever OK, zoos creep me out, and I think keeping whales and other long-range cetaceans inside tiny pens is absolutely cruel. Whales are meant to range long distances, thousands of miles. Cetaceans, like orcas (killer whales,) travel hundreds of miles in pods made up of females and their offspring. Some pods have several generations of mothers and children traveling together.

I’m not an anthropomorphizer (one who puts human emotions onto animals) but when orca calves are removed from their mothers, they cry for months. The mothers go listless (if the mother wasn’t killed trying to protect her baby from being captured.) Tilikum, removed from his mother at the age of 3, was put into a marine park in Canada (not affiliated with SeaWorld,) where he was penned with two older females who bullied him, and food withheld if he didn’t perform tricks. After he and another orca held their first trainer underwater until she died, that marine park closed and SeaWorld “rescued” him.

I haven’t watched Blackfish yet (or even Free Willy.) The documentary has been waiting for me in my DVR since it aired last week on CNN. Even without seeing the movie, I really question whether it’s ever appropriate to hold animals that are meant to range across the world inside tiny pens and make them perform tricks for our entertainment.

SeaWorld says that they serve a significant purpose: raising awareness of our oceans’ plights, connecting the public to animals they might never see otherwise, and donating their proceeds to conservation efforts. All that may be true, but I, like a growing number of moms, don’t want to spend my money and take my children to see animals held for sport and entertainment. Orcas, and other cetaceans, aren’t toys. It doesn’t pass my gut test.

If you watched The Cove a few years ago, a documentary on the capture of baby dolphins and the slaughter of their parents (who are illegally sold for meat) in Japan, you might also feel sick when you see those “swim with the dolphins” exhibits. I don’t think it’s right for us to disrupt eco systems because we think animals are playthings for our amusement. And it’s really not right to keep animals in tiny pens in proportion to their natural range.

I’m beginning to feel the same about SeaWorld, and that goes double for the other sea marine parks that don’t meet SeaWorld’s admittedly higher quality. At what point do you stop supporting organizations that keep and use animals in this way, even if they say it’s for a greater good? And I’m not alone. Other moms are starting to question whether or not we should bring our children to see these exhibits and participate in these enterprises. A few quotes from other moms on our Facebook page:

” I will never take my children to these type of animals-as-entertainment venues. All the former SW trainer who spoke out against the mega-powerful SeaWord Corp cannot be praised enough. When we know better, we can do better — and Blackfish is powerful, gut-wrenching instruction.”

“After watching The Cove, my vision changed 100%. I will do everything possible to make sure my kids see these beautiful animals in the wild and not in cement bathtubs doing flips for tiny fish snacks. It’s not just Sea World that is to blame either. There are many zoos & aquariums that keep gorgeous dolphins & beluga whales, hostage too. It’s not okay. When you know better, you do better.”

“As an advocate for animal rights and lover of all things aquatic I feel terrible for taking my child to Sea World…however I do know through personal experiences that Sea World is not necessarily the problem. I believe this sort if thing happens in all industries of business.”

What do you think? Have you seen Blackfish? Are you OK with SeaWorld? Do you disagree? Should we stop taking kids to SeaWorld?


Other posts you might like:

Why are you still feeing your  baby rice cereal?

What’s it like to move to Costa Rica with your family?

What and where to eat at Disneyland and California Adventure

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Comments (16)

  1. konnor 10/04/2014 at 1:57 pm

    stupid shut up about this there not doing this for entertainment what about the zoo what about wild kingdom 15% true 85% fake it is a LIE a total LIE your kids have to see animals for once in there lives anyone who thinks this is for real s*** SEA WORLD HATES YOU YOU SUCK

  2. Anna 01/28/2014 at 12:32 pm

    Animals do not belong in captivity. They have families as well. They care for each other more than most people care for their own kind. They are not here for human entertainment.

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  6. kelli riley 11/04/2013 at 2:26 pm

    I have seen Blackfish a few times on Cnn since last week and its a riveting documentary. So informative of something I had absolutely no idea about. I too will never take my children to Sea World and I wish they would let these beautiful family orientated animals go to live out their lives in a environment they thrive in.

  7. Amy myers 11/04/2013 at 1:02 pm

    I too can’t take zoos or other parks that collect money for the sake of “keeping” animals for profit or entertainment. On that note I see the guilt in these institutions that help animals who have been placed in health situations as a result of human interaction …trash, pollution, boating incidents. Do I feel it is right to have these places to rehab and help these poor souls…yes. But I agree these places should not exist to cage and remove from their natural habitat for profit.

  8. Debbie Terry 11/04/2013 at 12:56 pm

    I am NOT alright with Sea World! I have lived in San Diego my entire life and have to drive past the amusement park (because that is what it is) every day. It makes me sick to think of dolphins and whales doing tricks in a fish bowl for their dinner and for the “entertainment” of people who pay dearly for the opportunity. I don’t go – I didn’t take my daughter and we don’t take my granddaughter to those awful shows.

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  12. Amy 10/29/2013 at 1:24 pm

    I always appreciate thoughtful dialogue on tricky subjects. Thanks, Carina. I was curious to know what SeaWorld has said in response. Guess I’m still on the fence and can see both sides.

  13. Jaimee Preston 10/29/2013 at 7:21 am

    Thank you for bringing this to attention. I too saw the movie The Cove. I had to go hide in my bedroom closet because it made me weep so much…I didn’t want the rest of my family to think I was crazy. But really it isn’t crazy to feel such strong emotions at the sight of such abuse. As humans, I believe we are the stewards/caretakers of this planet. I think more people feel like we do and it is important to speak out. I appreciate your voice Carina!

  14. Jill M. 10/28/2013 at 8:03 pm

    The images in this film are the very reason I have never wanted to take my kids to Sea World or the circus or the zoo. The list goes on and on. These animals should be free not living miserably in captivity.