We are told, at a young age, to never talk with our mouths full. Jim McBain and Brad Andrews ignore that pleasantry and common formality; their mouths overflow with well-constructed lies. Jim McBain, director of veterinary medicine at SeaWorld and Brad Andrews, vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld, released a detailed pro-captivity statement during the time Keiko, the star of Free Willy, was in the public’s attention.
The 1993 Warner Bros film, Free Willy, sparked a national outrage over the injustice of keeping orcas captive. The family friendly film highlighted the special bond between a teenage boy, Jesse, and a young majestic orca named Willy. Audience’s hearts warmed and they rooted for a happy ending for both Jesse and Willy. The movie ends in bitter happiness, Jesse succeeds in freeing Willy to reunite with his family. As much as Jesse loved Willy it was only right for Willy to return home.
When released the film inspired thousands of people to strike against marine parks that keep orcas captive. The viewers were determined in freeing Keiko, the figurehead of captive imprisonment, and that frustrated marine parks such as SeaWorld.
Viewers wanted Keiko to have the same happy ending Willy did, they wanted Keiko to be free. McBain and Andrew want imprisonment.
McBain and Andrews are well-educated and successful individuals who make a hefty salary each year at SeaWorld. Their experience and knowledge of SeaWorld would be invaluable if it wasn’t flooded with lies and half-truths.
In their PBS announcement, McBain and Andrews defend SeaWorld and its commitment to love and care for their orcas. It is obvious they care, but they care for the money orcas rake in rather than the orcas themselves. If you took the profit away, SeaWorld would be quick to sell their orcas. Money over matter.
McBain and Andrews start their defense by justifying captivity for the sake of education. As we grow and urbanize we should find ways to stay in touch with nature. They claim it is irrational for every person to experience nature by going out into the wild. They claim it is more beneficial to drag animals to us rather than go to them.
They calculated how many people visit SeaWorld yearly and crunched some numbers to see the consequences of those people visiting “Robson Bite” instead. There would be over 2,000 boat trips a day, which to McBain and Andrews would be “ludicrous”. What is truly ludicrous is that they couldn’t bother to spell the location, they’re referring to, correctly. Its correct spelling is Robson Bight which promotes experiencing the majesty of orcas in the wild. They don’t use boats to observe orcas, they use kayaks to avoid endangering orcas with boats. McBain and Andrews don’t provide numbers to refer to, to ensure their creditability. It is highly unlikely all SeaWorld goers would flock to one orca sighting location while dozens exist.
McBain and Andrews claim in the PBS announcement, we’d “destroy what little habitat is left by trying to do that.” They seem to be repressing the fact that SeaWorld destroyed natural habitat to build their marine prison. They choose to crucify getting informed of animals naturally and praise artificially learning about animals.
McBain and Andrews believe people need to be educated and connected with animals. We all agree it is important to appreciate, understand and value the animals we share the planet with. It is crucial to witness the strength, beauty, and intelligence animals in case, for us to understand our human lives are not the only ones that matter. SeaWorld teaches the opposite lesson under the guise of education. SeaWorld doesn’t teach truth.
SeaWorld also claims they appreciate the social and familial bonds orcas have with their family. Yet, they built a company of the deed of ripping young orcas away from their families. They advertise they keep a mother and her baby together because in the wild an orca stays with her mother her whole life. Behind closed doors, babies are ripped away from their mothers and moved to different parks to benefit breeding programs. It’s an endless cycle of pain, but they don’t inform their guests of those facts.
SeaWorld’s website claims that their orcas live life spans equal to those in the wild. Wild orcas thrive in the open waters of the wild for an average of 60 years. Some, on record, prosper for over a 100 years. SeaWorld’s orcas perish at 13. The expiration date is cut down over 40 years. SeaWorld robs orcas of their lives.
McBain and Andrews seem to have good intentions when they strive to have education and connection to animals without destroying habitats. They should take off their rose-tinted glasses and see the damage SeaWorld inflicts. More than habitat is destroyed, lives are devastated.
McBain and Andrews claim that “over 90 percent of the American public feels that what zoos and aquariums are doing the right thing.” I searched to find validation for this statistic. I found only one survey from Debate Organization, that showed only 41 percent of people believe zoos and aquariums are doing the right thing.
Majority of people see through SeaWorld’s façade and recognize it for the sham it is. Now, it is time for SeaWorld to recognize their faults and take accountability for the damage they has done.
SeaWorld is not educational. One cannot force feed lies and label them as education, its blasphemy. “If want a public that’s knowledgeable about wild animals and some sensitivity about them, if we want our children to have a chance to see many of these animals, it’s gonna have to be places like SeaWorld.” SeaWorld doesn’t provide the public with knowledge, they provide entertainment. They also aren’t educating the public on “wild” animals, these orcas were stripped of being wild. Once they were dumped in those tanks they became captive orcas. There is a strong distinction between wild and captive, one is free and the other is a prisoner.
SeaWorld recognizes its company as a place where people can gain sensitivity towards animals. Sensitivity is an ironic word for McBain and Andrews to choose. SeaWorld is the opposite of sensitive, they ripped orcas from their families to make a profit. They ignore the blood on their hands and shove the skeletons deeper into the closet.
Regardless of the corrupted truths SeaWorld chooses to ooze out from the closed doors, the message they convey is that we should be allowed to do what we want, if we make a profit. SeaWorld promotes inflicting pain to make a profit. Children should be taught to recognize and understand imprisoning an animal, depriving them of their natural habitat and sentencing them to a life inside a concrete pool, is wrong. We wouldn’t buy tickets to visit a cotton plantation, watching the slaves work to survive. We should be horrified at the thought of endorsing such inhumane conditions.
“The Debate- Pro-Captivity.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service.
“Are Zoos Good (Yes) or Bad (No)?” Debate.org.