Tag Archives: aquarium

Open Letter to the City of Jacksonville

The City of Jacksonville, Florida, is considering opening an aquarium. A group called Aquajax is actively promoting this project, with one of its stated goals to “[m]ake the city a desired vacation location for both local and foreign visitors.”

From Lolita, A Slave to Entertainment.

From Lolita, A Slave to Entertainment.

Please consider the following issues as evidence that in contrast to making Jacksonville such a “desired” location, the erection of an aquarium, at considerable financial cost, such a facility will doom Jacksonville to being out-of-step with the current and growing sensibilities of an increasingly ethical public.   Some of the problems of captivity for orcas were brought to the public’s attention by the book, Death at SeaWorld, by New York Times best-selling author David Kirby, and the award-winning film, Blackfish, but the problems of captivity extend beyond that one dolphin species.

SeaWorld, which showcases orcas but owns in its “collection” many other species.  These other species are doing little to redeem SeaWorld’s reputation, as the public, worldwide, becomes aware that exploitation of marine creatures, including but not limited to marine mammals, is an endeavor that we must begin to phase out, not encourage.  The public, which may recognize SeaWorld’s efforts in coordinated rescue efforts of stranded or injured marine animals, also recognizes that one good deed (rescue) does not offset a horrid one (captivity).  There is no balancing that will remove the blemish of captivity from SeaWorld.

Consider these other “current events:”

  • The National Aquarium is ending its dolphin captivity after it recognized that phasing out its dolphin shows, which it had done only about a year previously, was not “enough”.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium Board has voted to end captive breeding.
  • Southwest Airlines ended its 25-year cross-promotion with SeaWorld.
  • The Georgia Aquarium has been denied a permit to import 18 wild-caught Russian beluga whales.
  • Bills to end orca captivity are under consideration in both California and New York. These bills, with the support of over 1.2 million people, are a reflection of the recognition that marine mammals and other oceanic aquatic life should not be exploited for human entertainment.
  • A plan to release Lolita (Tokitae) from the Miami Seaquarium has been proposed by the Orca Network.
  • Facilities in the United States that hold marine mammals inspire the growth of such facilities worldwide, which, in turn, supports a horrific dolphin hunting industry in Taiji, Japan, and elsewhere, where thousands of dolphins, hundreds of entire families of dolphins, can be slaughtered each year, in order for a number of young, pretty dolphins to be forced to live a life forever in captive, money-making (whether for-profit or non-profit) facilities.
  • Other marine mammals, such as polar bears, seals and sea lions, have an equal right to live in their own natural habitat.  Zoos and aquariums that hold them are targeted for being unable to provide suitable habitat, and in any case, deny them their birthright.
  • Zoo Mendoza in Argentina is being called upon by nearly a million people to release Arturo, a polar bear living in desert-like conditions, to a better facility in Canada.
  • SeaWorld’s last remaining polar bear, Johnny, who lived an unnatural solitary life, finally succumbed to this life and died, even while being touted as being in good health.
  • Zoos are coming under more scrutiny as being incapable of providing the kind of life that actually teaches our children to respect wildlife.

It is becoming all too clear every day to more compassionate and ethics-centered humans that “education” at the cost of denying the birthright of animals who should have freedom is a cost that is inconsistent with a humane society.

To learn more about the reality of the captive marine mammal industry, please watch A Fall from Freedom, Blackfish, A Whale of a Business, Lolita: A Slave to Entertainment.

To learn more about the link between dolphin captivity and dolphin killing, please watch the Academy Award-winning film, The Cove, and follow the efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its campaign, Operation Infinite Patience, dedicated to ending the horrific dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan.  Here is one report from last year’s dolphin hunt, which is set to resume on September 1.

Do not invest your monies, or your ethics, in a dying industry.

Cove Blue for Jiyu

Photo Credit: James R. Evans / U.S. Pacific Fleet

Open letter to Gretchen Wilson: our choices make a difference

This HARLAN COUNTY gal (which I reckon qualifies as good as any as being a Redneck Woman) knows that some artists will play at venues that don’t reflect the ethic of respect for animals to fulfill their birthright.  Other artists, however, make choices that lift us all up higher than the exploitation and abuse of withholding that right.

When an artist or performer makes the CHOICE to play at SeaWorld, she is making a CHOICE that perpetuates and supports a company and a system that misleads the public, that misleads our children into thinking that captivity is an acceptable 2014 institution.  We “didn’t know no better” in 1964 when SeaWorld was founded.  We do know better now, although not everyone has been involved in the issue of captivity enough to come to their own, and very personal, realization.

Gretchen Wilson's choice.

Gretchen Wilson’s choice: taking her FANS down the garden path that leads to the witch’s cabin in the woods

When an artist makes the CHOICE to listen to the company that pioneered captivity and which the rest of the world parrots when they open new aquariums in their countries, this is a downfall in a moment of CHOICE, and it leads so many others who then act out their own bolstering of that outdated and unethical system by spending their dollars to keep alive something that should be retired.

Gretchen Wilson relies upon having fans to follow her CHOICE to play at SeaWorld

Gretchen Wilson relies upon having fans to follow her CHOICE to play at SeaWorld

Every CHOICE we make today builds the future.  And Ms. Wilson is building a future that is unethical, inhumane and unsustainable.

This isn’t about FANS or NOT-FANS, Ms. Wilson; this is about whether you are serving as a point of mirroring ethical values or merely profit-at-any-cost.  Either is your CHOICE. And because of your career, when you make a choice that results in the suffering and death of untold numbers of marine mammals, you take others with you down that unethical garden path to the witch’s cabin in the woods.  Choosing to ignore the fact that captivity is a morbid experience for innocent creatures who have been denied their birth-right is, after all, one of the choices you had before you.

Our choices makes a difference.  The future will hold us all to account for our choices, including those who, at the moment of choice, made the one you just did.

Ms. Wilson says that she did her research.  We obviously don’t know what that effort entailed.  But she told her fans that she had, and for some or even for many, that will be good enough for them to walk through the ticket turnstyle at SeaWorld.  This, aside from the travesty of captivity itself, is the real failure in the act of choice which was served up to her “fans”.

For one’s own research, a very good starting point is watching (not hearing about) the award-winning film, BlackfishIf you have not yet seen Blackfish, it will be aired again on CNN this Sunday, February 9, 2014, at 9pm and 11pm ET.  Over 1 million people watched it when CNN first aired it over about a two-week period in October and November 2013.

Because everything is about choice, do your own research, and do it well.  Imagining that a profit-center has your or our or even their best interests at heart is giving up your choice to them.

More information for one’s own research:

Are you pro-captivity or anti-captivity? There’s really nothing in between.

As the video makes pretty clear, there is really nothing in between, except indecision.  If you do not yet find yourself either standing for marine mammal freedom or against marine mammal freedom, I have one question for you.

What will it take for you to make up your mind?

Maybe learning the truth about the marine mammal captive industry would help?  The documentary, A Fall from Freedom, is a content-rich work that includes interviews with marine biologists who have performed research on marine mammals in the wild, executives with Sea World, brokers in the orca and dolphin-acquiring business, and advocates for the position that marine mammals cannot be provided a normal life in captivity.

No, wait.  One more question.

How many orcas and dolphins have to die in captivity, in the process of being taken captive, or in the drive hunts where often there is no attempt to capture them – but only slaughter them – before you stand on one side or the other?

Perhaps it would help you to know that there are already-existing ways to learn about and advocate for the freedom of marine mammals here in the United States and abroad, such as:

  • groups on Facebook that organize for marine mammal freedom (some great ones are Save Misty the Dolphin, Save Japan Dolphins and Free the Atlanta 11);
  • advocates on Twitter that you can follow for information (I am @mobrock,  and there is @MrHolise, @SaveMisty, @Misty_Dolphin, @janice_oceans, @blog4cetaceans, @livenbothworlds, @shortbus1, @AustinLynch1, @edatthebeach, @Luv_Dolphins, @SJDolphins, @RichardOBarry, @LincolnOBarry, @SeaShepherd, @earthisland, @earthrace, @PeteBethune, @orkacoalitie, @BlueVoiceOrg, and many others)
  • signing petitions (e.g., to stop a dolphin expo in MississippiPuerto Rico, the Maldives or St. Maarten);
  • signing pledges not to buy a ticket to a dolphin show;
  • watching the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove;
  • watching a film created by the dolphin “fishermen” for how they handle dolphins;
  • calling the consulates and embassies of Japan to voice your opposition to the dolphin hunt; or
  • leaving AT&T who has its name on the dolphin extravaganza at the Georgia Aquarium and write them letters to tell them about your decision.  AT&T can be reached at AT&T, 32 Avenue of  the Americas, New York, N.Y., 10013-2412.

The fight for all marine mammals, including Morgan who has lost the first round in regaining her freedom, continues, and will not stop until they are all given a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the ocean. For right now, I hope you will follow Morgan’s story and the community in Norway who is eager to rehabilitate her in a sea pen near where her pod has been identified and then to release her to live with her pod, instead of being condemned to life of ownership by Sea World.

I hope you find yourself on this path with us, for a sustainable future that  recognizes that freedom and enlightenment for one species cannot be purchased by the enslavement of another.

Namaste.

A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

Hand down the throat

Hand down the throat, photo by Martyn Stewart

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker and Heather Hill for the video of Jiyu.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.