The Georgia Aquarium has announced that it will not appeal the decision of Judge Amy Totenberg in Georgia Aquarium v Pritzker. Resounding huzzahs were heard in all camps of those opposing captivity. Feelings nearing jubilation and celebration of victory were shared across social media.
The Georgia Aquarium’s decision not to appeal, however, came as no surprise, and signals little more than that the management at the aquarium was listening to legal counsel. Its chances of overturning Judge Totenberg’s decision were miniscule, if that. And so the Georgia Aquarium merely decided that standing down on this permit appeal was the right decision in this war over marine mammal captivity. The Georgia Aquarium claimed that the appeal would have been costly; this much is true. It does not say that the appeal would have been futile, but that, too, is most likely true as well.
When the Georgia Aquarium acknowledges that continuing the appeal “would not be in the best interest of the animals in Russia,” it likely means something different than what marine mammal advocates consider “best interest.” Does the Georgia Aquarium intend to step away from its stated goal of creating “a sustainable population of belugas at accredited zoological facilities in North America?” Notably, its statement did not go that far.
So, to the celebrants I say, as we claim a tactical victory, study the art of war. Consider where and how this announcement plays in the overall war. Know that this victory came as a result of little more than the Georgia Aquarium’s arrogance and feeling of entitlement at stealing wild animals from the ocean and importing them into the United States and of the system of laws working. Appreciate the possibility that the Georgia Aquarium learned something valuable to itself in this war and how to play in the next battle, a battle that may not invoke a “taking”, a battle that may not involve a “Near Threatened” species.
Prepare yourself for the next battle.
Because it will come.