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.”
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 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.