SeaWorld’s impact: Teaching children that captivity is okay, since 1964

I’m not a screenwriter, so I don’t know the technical names and symbols, but as I watched SeaWorld’s latest commercial, I imagined how the script might have looked:

[Fade in]

[Cue soft, soothing music]

[Underwater shot, ethereal light shining down through digital image of water]

[Cue caption: “Kelly Flaherty-Clark Head Animal Trainer at SeaWorld, Orlando]


Ms. Clark:

What does SeaWorld mean to me? SeaWorld is my life, has been my life. It’s been my family.

[Inspirational flash of light (IFOL)]

[SeaWorld, beside orca tank; day]

[Two trainers wearing spandex in water (aka dry work) in background working with orca; Ms. Clark in foreground, wearing same spandex, “bridge” whistle around neck]

[Medium Close up Ms. Clark, pan right; Ms. Clark gesturing convincingly for emphasis]

Ms. Clark

There’s nothing [arm gesture] in the world [arm gesture] that compares [pan left] to having a rapport, [arm gesture] and a relationship [arm gesture] with an animal like this

[gestures toward orcas in small concrete tank; trainer in water with orca pats orca]

[Close up Ms. Clark]

But there’s also [arm gesture] nothing [arm gesture] that compares [arm gesture, eyes lift, camera pan right] to watching the impact that that relationship that you have, [body gesture toward orca] has [gesture open arms toward camera] on the public. [smile]

[Medium close-up Ms. Clark] 

It’s as exciting and inspiring for me [trainer in water (dry work) in background continues to rub orca] to watch a baby killer whale be born [gesture toward orcas in concrete tank] as it is to watch, you know, the six-year-old or the ten-year-old in the audience. [another IFOL]

From SeaWorld's video advertisement "The Bond . . "

From SeaWorld’s video ad “The Bond . . “

[Fade, medium close-up of two orcas on slide-out, trainers in matching spandex continue to rub orcas; make sure female trainer has top knot and orcas (use Kayla and Nalani if available) don’t have much flacid dorsal fin syndrome, aka dorsal fin collapse disorder]

I’ve had people tell me that their children, uh, were so affected [arm gesture toward orca and backside of trainer leaning over orca] by what they saw that they wanted to [Swish pan to close-up Ms. Clark] learn more about whales . . . where do they come from.

[Extreme close-up]

And when they find out they’re from all [voice emphasis] oceans of the world, then they care about all of the oceans of the world.

[Medium close-up]

So that what they see here and how it impacts them, [background female trainer uses bridge to cue orca to splash tail in water] changes the way they behave, outside of SeaWorld.

[Cue final credits; use “truth” in title]

[Fade out]

So, what did all that spandex and music and panning and orcas’ getting patted mean? It means that SeaWorld teaches your children that captivity is okay.  Moreover, I think it tells us that SeaWorld is intentional about that.

If your child went to SeaWorld in the last year, ask her about what oceans she’s thought about protecting.  And then ask her when she wants to go back to SeaWorld.  Then show her Blackfish and ask her again.

4 responses to “SeaWorld’s impact: Teaching children that captivity is okay, since 1964

  1. Very sad…children need to learn about the cetaceans in the wild. This is where the real freedom and happiness in, not doing parlour tricks for money. Great article, thanx so much! 🙂

  2. Ha! Right on the money(as it were).The whole idea that we can better ourselves somehow by getting up close and personal with wild animals in captivity that most of us insist on humanising to some degree is well entrenched..
    I remember as a very small child being taken to Dublin Zoo to see the chimpanzee’s tea party. I was charmed. In those days I don’t believe many were vocal about animal degredation. But I don’t think that would happen now… So change will come, however long it takes.

Leave a Reply