A new statistical evaluation by the Associated Press of survival rates of marine mammals in captivity asserts that marine mammals live longer in captivity than in the wild. While one might be called a heretic for considering a statistical evaluation by a “news” organization to be inferior to one conducted by scientists, readers or viewers of “news” reports should know enough to be skeptical about “glommy” statistics, whether by a news organization, or scientists whose livelihoods depend upon maintaining a captivity industry, or scientists whose job is the welfare and study of wild marine mammals and their habitats. I am not a statistician, any more than is ABC or the Associated Press, so I’ll leave the statistics dialogue to the scientists. But it does leave me asking, “Who ees thees Associated Press?”
But perhaps it is appropriate, then, that ABC News then followed the “launch” of the Associated Press’ new-found expertise in marine mammal statistics by a story about SeaWorld launching a new boat in its latest effort to rehabilitate its image.
While I am not an expert in boats either, I do have at least five senses, a brain, a heart and the ability to use all of them in evaluating “news” stories. It must be big news that SeaWorld is using boats. Big news that SeaWorld has veterinarians on staff whose job it is to keep captive marine mammals alive, and have had 50 years to perfect their craft. Big news that SeaWorld is doing rescue. Big news that SeaWorld now has new boat technology. Big news?
Else why would the Associated Press and ABC News cover it?
I cannot claim to know, but it certainly begs, on its knees with a mournful plea, the question.
Using the “news” to turn the conversation on the uncertain statistic of life expectancy is tricky, as is a suggestion that medical care should be improved, as if resolving those two issues also resolves the “problem” of captivity for marine mammals . . . as if saying, “If we can make them live longer in captivity than in the wild, we have a right to and we should,” when that is based in an ethical as well as logical fallacy.
That conclusion omits the entirety of the notion that animals have a right to live their birthright, not a plasticized, containerized, medicated, jelloized – that is, captive – version of it.
What you can do: Support the efforts across the nation to find a legislative solution to the real ethical problem injected into our culture by marine mammal captivity. One easy first step is to sign three petitions.
- Support California orca legislation, the Orca Welfare and Protection Act, by signing the petition at SumofUs.org. Over 1.2 million people have already signed. Add your voice to this groundswell.
- Support Senator Greg Ball’s effort to ban orca captivity in the state of New York (can be signed by New York residents only).
- Sign Florida fifth grader, Marissa’s, petition to Senator Mark Rubio to introduce a bill banning captivity.
- Reach out to your own state leadership and find the ones who are the true advocates for ethics and compassion for animals. Find the ones who are willing, as are California Assemblyman Richard Bloom and New York State Senator Greg Ball, to request that an industry that has literally banked on our inability to see through the spandex and the splashing to the horrific nature of captivity for marine mammals retire its business model of exploitation.
Because this is worth fighting for. When SeaWorld ends its current exploitative business model, that will be news.