Published on April 21st, 2016 | by Editor0
On his address in the United Nations, Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation’s faithkeeper recited a beautiful poem that emphasized on the man-animal relationship. It explained how animals do not have delegations but are at the mere mercy of humans and how humans think they are superior to all else. But what needs to be reminded to them is that they are all a part of the grander scheme and just another creation among many others. And then the poem further states the harmlessness of animals and how man is responsible for the harm and not animals.
Seeing how the wildlife should be as important as the human life and should be treated as such, SeaWorld Entertainment recently announced that it will no longer breed orcas (killer whales) in the park’s vicinity anymore and the current generation would be the last. This came with approvals from animal welfares proponents from all over the world. With a pregnant Orca, Takara, 29 others are currently residing in the park.
In his press release, the president of SeaWorld Entertainment, Joel Manby said that as the information regarding the orcas is increasing, their regulations are also evolving to ensure their safety. Moreover, they are also thinking of new ways in which they can entertain visitors who want an orca experience since the 29 orcas right now at the park will be the last batch.
The theme park has also taken up the agenda to eventually stop killer whale performances and move in a direction that is more focused on the wellbeing of orcas. The first theme park to undergo this change will be the one in San Diego next year. The next step would be to implement the same in the San Antonio park and complete the round by 2019 after the Orlando park also implements these policies. Moreover, the park also plans to spend $50 million in order to create awareness against the killing of sharks, seals and whales for commercial uses.
A documentary by the name Blackfish was released in 2013 that helped spread awareness regarding the unhealthy and cruel ways in which many zoos and other such sanctuaries keep animals. The documentary is based on Dawn Brancheau, a trainer in SeaWorld who was killed by an Orca, Tilikum. The orca has a pulmonary bacterial infection that it is battling and is still a part of the park.
Andrew O’Hehir reacted to the news by saying that such awareness is making us realize that our current superior standing with respect to other species is not ideal and that we need to stop treating ourselves as better than the rest, a species that can take over other species for their entertainment or for other commercial purposes. He further questioned if we would want our future generations to think of circuses, theme parks and zoos with memories of dog fights and bear baiting.
If we go down history, using animals for entertainment and consumerism goes back to the ancient Egypt and the pre-Hispanic Mexico. They had zoos solely for the intrigue of the elite, much like the concept of a menagerie. Lions were brought to palace gardens in 2300 BC. In fact, Ramses II had a lion by his side every time he went for a battle.
The Egyptians also showed interest in bears and brought them from Syria. As far as the cruel treatment to animals is concerned, there are accounts of it that are as old as 1000 BC.
The earliest occurrence of the modern day zoo goes back in 1820 with the opening of Regent Park Zoo in London. The term zoo has been coined from “zoological gardens” that they were actually supposed to be. The study of animals was extended to Dublin in 1831 when the Dublin Zoo was inaugurated. In the United Stated, the first zoo to be formed was in Central Park in 1860 and then another in Philadelphia in 1874.
Around the 1950s, there was an increase in the awareness regarding how animals were kept in the zoo. Today, giants in the business such as the SeaWorld are under a lot of pressure to change the very crux of the idea behind which the park was created. The idea was to have a place where people could see orcas perform tricks. These creatures are easy to train because of their comparatively well developed vocal expression and their strong kinship. Moreover, those existing in wild are also considered harmless to humans. The average age of male and female orcas is 30 years and 50 years respectively whereas they can live up to 60 years and 100 years. Simultaneously, the Animal Welfare Institute claims that the orcas are 2.5 times more likely to die early if confinement.
O’Herir being a strong advocate of animal rights questions if there is actually a range of animals that can be held captive without remorse so we can appease ourselves. This is what actually makes us “human” and that is what is at stake. It is a question of understanding the co-relation between animals and humans as they are.
SeaWorld has taken this conservatory step in the right direction in collaboration with HSUS. Thus, the CEO and president of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle says what SeaWorld is doing has been what most animal rights groups have been fighting for and it is indeed praise-worthy that this popular park is working towards it. According to him, they are currently almost making history and cooperating with each other to help with animal rights by starting this fight against performing orcas for human pleasure. Their goal is to rescue and then rehabilitate them back in the wild. Moreover, they are also thinking on solutions that would help humans find food sources through humane measures.
After the documentary, the Blackfish was released, SeaWorld attempted at improving its image by increasing the size of the place where the whales were kept and even started a transparency campaign in 2015. Although the complete details regarding the changes the management has claimed it will make are still to be seen, everyone hopes that it really does make a difference for the marine world in general and the orcas in particular.
O’Herir comments on the human insensitivity as to how we do not bother talking or working against such cruelty until the evidence is just in your face. However, we should all beware that such an incident is on the horizon, in evitable and about to hit us.