To say I’m disgustingly impressed with SeaWorld’s efforts to debunk all the things being said and done about them since the release of “Blackfish” is an understatement.
Because I’m not impressed. Just disgusted.
Earlier this week, former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove released his novel, “Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld and the Truth Beyond Blackfish.”
He started working with SeaWorld San Antonio in 1993 and left the industry for the first time in 2001.
In 2003, he worked in France with the animal exhibition park Marinel before returning to SeaWorld San Antonio in 2008, until he left the industry for the final time in 2012.
A week after leaving SeaWorld for the last time, Hargrove was interviewed for “Blackfish,” a 2013 documentary about SeaWorld’s mistreatment to their orca whales.
The release of Hargrove’s book comes almost two weeks after Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus announced that they will be eliminating their elephant act and sending the elephants to a conservation in Florida by the year 2018.
But don’t let this new information about the circus empire fool you.
In the 90s, they suffered business declination when someone tipped to PETA that they mistreated two of their elephants.
After a 14-year legal case, animal rights groups had to pay Feld Entertainment [the company that owns Ringling Bros.] a $16 million settlement for not being able to prove the mistreatment happened.
And yet, even though Feld Entertainment fought to keep their elephants, I honestly think the decision to let them go was in part because of all the negative attention building against SeaWorld.
I think Ringling Bros. took a step back, saw SeaWorld’s numbers after the release of “Blackfish” and decided to bow out of using their elephants before the same thing could happen with their business.
Which is what I think SeaWorld should have done in the first place after the release of “Blackfish” and I think this is exactly what they should do now, with the release of John Hargrove’s novel.
At this point, I believe SeaWorld is fighting an unwinnable battle.
In the last two years, SeaWorld’s attendance numbers and share prices have dropped and, despite their declining numbers, they’ve launched new advertising campaigns about their animals and their care for them.
But I don’t think their truth campaigns are going to be enough to save them, especially with John Hargrove’s novel only being a few days old.
They have been refuting every allegation that has been thrown at them, but it is only going to hurt them more when more people start talking and more truth about their orca treatment starts coming to light.
More people are starting to open their eyes to how inhumane it is to use animals as entertainment and more people are starting to realize that these shows, where these wild animals are being exploited, aren’t fun to watch anymore—they’re uncomfortable and sad.
Animal shows are definitely becoming a thing of the past and I think it’s time to look to the future.
SeaWorld needs to give up trying to fight to keep their shows and turn these negative allegations into something positive.
They should eliminate the shows, rehabilitate the orcas while educating the public on them and the negative effects of living in captivity. And then let them loose.
Once SeaWorld starts owning up to their mistakes and starts correcting them, they will not only improve the state of orcas in the wild, but they will also improve the current state of their corporation.
This column was published by independent student newspaper on March 26, 2015, which you can find here.