By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The recent attack by a captive orca on its trainer at a SeaWorld facility in Orlando, Florida, has again raised questions about our relationship with these top marine predators.
But really, the "killer" whale's deadly attack in Florida this week raises a much larger question: What in the heck are humans doing keeping undomesticated and "killer" animals in captivity to begin with?
At least there is little or no talk, that I've heard of, of "euthanizing" (which really means slaughtering) this poor whale, who was only doing what instinct tells him to do.
It is we who are reckless, violating wild animals' right to exist and, quite frankly, acting in a senseless manner when we imprison animals who cannot exist in small spaces. I've heard the Orca tank at SeaWorld facilities described as "bathtubs" by comparison to the large expanse orcas normally inhabit. Think about it for a minute.
If someone tied you in your bathtub, or your bed, for years at a time, wouldn't you go a little nuts? I would. I think most people would go stark raving mad in short order. And yet even in our now-enlightened "zoos," which have changed their names to "conservation societies," wild animals are confined to areas that scientists know are not large enough for them.
"What the latest attack by a captive orca reveals is just how little we still know about the animals, in captivity and in the wild. For example, we are only just glimpsing how intelligent orcas really are and the complexity of their society. However, few insights come from studying captive whales, though some have helped reveal their acoustic behaviour. 'The science doesn't justify the captivity," says Dr. Andrew Foote, an expert on wild orcas from Britain's University of Aberdeen, told the BBC. One thing I would hope is that this unfortunate incident might lead to a considered discussion on phasing out these marine parks.' "
And that goes for keeping elephants, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, primates, and so on down the list of non-domesticated animals in captivity. SeaWorld claims that its exhibits help children learn about these amazing creatures. True enough, but even truer still, SeaWorld parks put money into the pockets of people who own and work for them. There are plenty of other ways for kids to see whales (watch them on TV, on YouTube, or perish the thought their parents should take them on a whale watching trip) than to make the whales miserable, living life in a bathtub.
When are human animals going to wake up to the unnecessary, unthinking cruelty they inflict on the rest of the animal kingdom?
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