Petition update

Open Letter Response to BA's position regarding SeaWorld

Kathleen Haase
Skipton, United Kingdom

Nov 24, 2014 — Dear Friends,

This is the Open Letter I am sending to Jonathon Counsell in regards to their announced position about SeaWorld as we're speaking. More to come tomorrow:

"Dear Mr. Counsell,

Thank you for forwarding your position in regards to SeaWorld to me and the 257,191 supporters who wish for BA to sever their ties with SeaWorld.

We asked you twice for a follow up meeting in regards to your position and it seems to me that you entirely ignored these requests when, at the end of the meeting in October, you had stated that you were open to the idea and are willing to “continue the dialogue”.

You state in your letter that “SeaWorld has assured us that its animal care standards exceed this best practice guidance” of ABTA which is entirely incorrect. During our meeting, I had handed you a summary of at least 13 violations to these guidelines, such as having pregnant orcas perform up to the end of their gestation period, separating orcas when that is not strictly necessary, such as orcas being separated randomly or for breeding purposes, too loud music being played in SeaWorld's facilities, the environment not being enriching and orcas being asked to slide out for other than medical procedures amongst many other violations.

In regards to SeaWorld being governed by federal laws and being accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Association of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, I fail to follow your thoughts as to why this is of interest in regards to the suffering orcas endure in captivity on a daily basis. If anything, this is an indication that the current guidelines and laws are insufficient when a facility as accredited as SeaWorld for its high standards cannot prevent orcas from dying prematurely, calves being rejected by their mothers as well as trainers and other orcas dying from aggressive attacks between one another in the 50 years they have been operating.

Finally, you claim that “SeaWorld does not collect cetaceans from the wild and has not done so for nearly three decades” which is not entirely true. They acquired an orphaned orca called Morgan who was taken into captivity under a rescue permit in the Netherlands in 2010. Once Morgan was rehabilitated and brought back to health, she was meant to be released but instead she was sent to Loro Parque, a park in the Canary Islands that is affiliated with SeaWorld and houses some of their captive born orcas on a breeding loan. Morgan is now listed as SeaWorld's “asset”.

Furthermore, SeaWorld is named as a potential recipient of up to 12 wild-caught belugas from Russia in an application by the Georgia Aquarium that was denied by the US government but is being appealed by the aquarium. Moreover, not capturing cetaceans from the wild does not alleviate the suffering of the ones already in captivity.

Additionally, you had asked for “indisputable science” in regards to orcas's suffering in captivity in order to decide your position which, as we informed you, is forthcoming with a peer-reviewed scientific paper on annual survivorship rates. When asked for clarification what you consider indisputable science, you had mentioned scientific papers on why elephants should not be held in captivity. As elephants and orcas have a lot in common, I asked for references to such papers which you have never provided.

It seems to me that you decided to dismiss the forthcoming scientific evidence on annual survivorship rates of orcas and I cannot comprehend the reasons for doing so other than that your position had always been to judge this matter in favour of SeaWorld.

For these reasons I cannot understand nor accept British Airways' position in regards to SeaWorld and am compelled to continue with this campaign until positive change will be achieved.

Kind regards,

Kathleen Haase"

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