Freshman, journalism major
Past actions can cover up even the best of intentions. For SeaWorld, a theme park located in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego, the water is murky with opinions, allegations and fatalities. Some could even say the water, which makes it difficult to see SeaWorld’s many conservation and rescue efforts, is black.
The documentary “Blackfish,” released in 2013, depicts the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity. It follows Tilikum, the whale that killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, and highlights the stress killer whales experience by living in an environment dissimilar to their natural ocean home. But almost more important than the film’s content was the public reaction. The film raised ethical problems and it seemed likely that those who had seen the movie were unable to view SeaWorld in the same way.
SeaWorld is more than an entertainment company. The park certainly strives to create an experience, both fun and educational, for visitors, but, behind the scenes, SeaWorld gives back. In February of this year, the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team worked with the community of Satellite Beach to rescue 19 manatees that were stuck in a drainpipe. Because of the need for warm water, and the cold outdoor temperatures, the manatees moved to the drainpipe causing a rescue mission that lasted about 9 hours.
SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment states that the main objective of their Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is to “return rehabilitated animals to the wild.” According to SeaWorld, they accomplish this goal by paying a cost of over $1 million for the program. SeaWorld of Florida works in rescuing marine mammals, birds and sea turtles. Animals may go through a long process of rehabilitation and healing led by researchers and zoological professionals in top facilities at the park before being released. Even after releasing them, the workers attach trackers to the animals to be sure that they are in good conditions to live on their own.
SeaWorld is a company that realizes they have a responsibility. When teaching people about caring for wildlife, they must also give what they can to promote conservation. And in 2003, in came the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation fund, which has given over $11 million to over 800 organizations. The program focuses on four main goals: animal rescue and rehabilitation, species research, conservation education and habitat protection. It also encourages people to take matters into their own hands; after all, the duty of caring for our world rests on far more shoulders than just SeaWorld’s.
SeaWorld is still far from perfect. But by doing heavy research and living beside animals, workers at SeaWorld are learning, just as we are, how best to care for the world around us. We can only hope that, as the SeaWorld Corporation works toward helping life on Planet Earth to thrive, people will begin to recognize SeaWorld for its efforts regarding conservation, rather than for a film that speaks of its faults.