There has been yet another death in the pools of marine mammal captivity. In 1994, a false killer whale was born into a life of captivity in SeaWorld. As with most captive animals, she faced a short life full of sickness and ailments. She was named Jozu and was said to have chronic health problems throughout her life. Jozu only made it to the age of 17. In the wild, female false killer whales live an average of 62 years.
When I read stories like this I find myself going through a string of emotions. I am always sad for the animal because their life here is gone. They are no longer existing amongst us and I find myself wondering if their soul has been reborn into another life that is now wild in the ocean. As I am thinking about this life that is gone I realize I am angry with SeaWorld for allowing it to happen. They bring these animals into the world knowing that they will never live to see a day anywhere close to what they should naturally. They know about the species and what they require in order to survive and yet they still allow captive breeding and condemn these animals to an early death. It is in these moments that I wish I hadn’t been banned from all of SeaWorld’s social media pages so I could write to them publicly and tell them how I feel while exposing the truth to their “fans”. Although, it was those messages that originally got me (and several other fake profiles) kicked off their pages in the first place.
Then, I seem to realize that even though the people at SeaWorld are guilty of many cruelty crimes involving animal exploitation, there is another group at blame. Every single person that supports SeaWorld or any other marine park is also responsible for Jozu’s death. This continued ignorance is what drives the industry. And perhaps it is not always unintentional ignorance. We have become a VERY complacent society who thinks they have a great deal of entitlement owed to them. We look around and see bad things and just look the other way or tell ourselves its just part of life. For example, anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows about the pet population crisis. The shelters are bursting at the seams with homeless pets and yet there is still that person who will go spend $1000 on a pure bred animal and justify the action by saying, “I wanted it”. People breed their own cats or dogs because they can or want their kids to see the birth. It stems from this idea that because you were born into the human species you have domain over every other creature and if you want it, you can have it. And you will just walk by the pet shelter with your pure bred dog because you’ve become completely complacent to the faces in the window.
This is exactly what is happening at SeaWorld. People simply do not care or think about the existence of those animals. People feel that they have the right to go look at dolphins and whales at a park. Or they say that since they were born in captivity it doesn’t matter. They get to go to the park for a day with the family and watch these animals perform a bunch of unnatural circus tricks and then go home. That is where the thought ends. They don’t go home and think about that animal still sitting in the same pool full of chemically altered water. They don’t think about the dead fish the animals get only when they perform their silly tricks. They don’t think about the medicine stuffed into the fish to help the animals cope with stress and health issues. They aren’t sitting in the stands cheering and clapping, listening to the announcer and the music and wondering how all that noise effects a creature whose strongest sense is sound. They simply go to SeaWorld, watch the shows and then go home and tell their friends and family about their big family day out.
Money and power and entitlement and complacency. That is what makes SeaWorld go round. A simple internet search will teach you that False Killer whales naturally swim in groups of 10-20 members, which then belong to a larger pod consisting of hundreds of animals. You can learn about the average life span which is about 58 years for males and 62 for females. You can learn about their strong social bonds which have resulted in mass strandings. These are not things you learn at SeaWorld and none of these natural attributes were a part of Jozu’s life. She was deprived of all the things her wild cousins have, including a life that should have lasted into her sixties.
And while these animals are floating around in glorified swimming pools, getting sunburns at the surface, with no life beyond tricks and swimming in circles, Stephen Schwarzman (CEO of the Blackstone Group) is home in his 20,000 square foot, 35 bedroom estate. A home that is bigger then the orca tanks at SeaWorld. Yes, he is responsible for the sad life of every animal at SeaWorld, as well as the death of Jozu, but if you’ve bought a ticket then so are you.
Stop with the complacency. Stop supporting SeaWorld. Stop supporting captivity. Together we can close their doors for good.