Friday, January 8, 2016

My stance on SeaWorld

Warning:Controversy enclosed. Viewer discretion advised.

If you're involved with biology in the Twitterverse, then you've probably seen thorny discussions about the bioethics of Seaworld, especially their shows. Here's my stance on these arguments. For one, yes, it is true that many animals at SeaWorld were collected from the wild. But in many cases, these animals were collected decades ago. And in many cases, they couldn't be released. It's a choice, angry SeaWorld commentators. Would you rather have these animals die in the wild, or be able to live out their lives at a facility, even if it isn't the ocean? And on the shows, think about the position of an orca, dolphin, or other marine mammal of that size in the wild. These animals are apex predators and have lots of instincts that are left usually unused in captivity. Training for shows for rewards of fish occupies these animals and keeps them from getting bored. It's the same reason someone would train a dog or cat. It's to keep them occupied so they aren't miserable. And then, there's the limitations of captivity. No matter how much they try, SeaWorld can't provide an ocean for their animals without releasing them. Just for size reasons. A life-sized ocean would probably take up the entire facility. And for those of you who want SeaWorld to release their animals, let's think about it for a second. These animals have gotten used to scheduled feeding times and no predators. Even if the animals were miserable in captivity, after getting used to captivity and accustomed to humans, these animals probably wouldn't be able to survive in the wild. Just keep thinking about that. Or imagine if it were you. You probably live a fairly sheltered life, with food easily available and a home to live in. (If you aren't in this situation, keep surviving. I admire you.) Now imagine you were planted in the wilderness suddenly, far away from any civilized life. You might be able to adjust within years or decades, but, being used to a sheltered life, you'd probably get eaten by bears or something before you would. It's the same sort of situation with a released captive animal. They have gotten accustomed to security, so they would die in the wild. It is true that wild-caught animals should not be exploited. I agree with you about that, angry Seaworld commentators. But these animals, in many cases, are just being fostered or rehabilitated to be re-released or have been rescued from certain death. Most of you would probably agree that this is good for the animals. And this is just my opinion on Seaworld's practices. For you, I'll leave it up to you to decide what you consider ethical.

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