St. Patrick's Day

Who would’ve thought that on this St. Patrick’s Day there would be this announcement from Sea World: The killer whale breeding program will be discontinued this year?

What this means is that Sea World will continue its Shamu shows until the last killer whale dies. This is a big deal since Shamu is the corporate symbol of Sea World.

I went to Sea World several times in both Orlando and near Cleveland. (The latter park has since been converted to a waterpark known as Wildwater Kingdom.) I really enjoyed it very much each time I went. I never had any personal issues with Sea World having aquatic animals. In fact those animals were the main reason why my then-husband and I loved going there again and again. My opinion has always been that as long as the animals were treated in a humane way then parks like Sea World should be free to exist.

I last went to Sea World at the Orlando location in 2010, just six months after that incident where one of the killer whales pulled a trainer into the water by her ponytail and drowned her. At the time I thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt that the killer whale attack on a trainer was just an isolated incident that was tragic yet was a rare event.

But in the nearly six years since my last visit to Sea World, I began to change my mind about the idea of keeping wild animals in tanks while performing tricks for the general public who paid to see them perform. There was that documentary Blackfish, which I haven’t seen but I’ve heard plenty about that film’s revelations of what went on behind the scenes at Sea World. Like I wrote two paragraphs ago, I believe that parks like Sea World should exist as long as the animals were treated in a humane way.

Note that I said that “as long as the animals were treated in a humane way“. Based on everything that I’ve read about the controversy regarding Sea World, I now question whether it’s humane for orcas to spend their lives in tanks while performing tricks for the general public. If living in tanks result in a lower quality of life for the killer whales than if they had been born and raised in the wild, then I think it’s all for the best that the killer whale breeding program will be discontinued along with the gradual phasing out of the Shamu shows.

While I enjoyed each Sea World visit in the past, I think that if I somehow find myself in Orlando again, I’m not sure if I would go back due to the issue of the humane treatment of the animals who live there.

I’ll admit that the Shamu shows made spectacular photography and I’ll always have these photos, which I took in 2010, to remember them by.

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You can see other photos that I took at Sea World on the same day right here.

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