Petition Closed

Remove School Functions from SeaWorld

This petition had 2,194 supporters


*Petition is now re-opened, but only signatures from zip codes 92127, 92128, 92129, and 92064 will be delivered! I want the district to see that the majority of its students, teachers, and parents want this change!

Mt. Carmel High School recently announced their prom is located at SeaWorld and middle and elementary schools have field trips to SeaWorld.

I find the fact there are still activities at this location a poor decision on the part of our  district. Although the juniors at Mt. Carmel came up with the location for prom, PUSD middle and elementary schools still have field trips to SeaWorld. This is NOT about changing Mt. Carmel's prom, although I would be happy if that were one of the outcomes. I understand the money and time put in to planning prom as well as the fact venues typically have to be reserved a year in advance.

This is about removing activities to SeaWorld from my school district. News coverage has been misleading.

Not only are these activities promoting animal abuse and cruelty, instead of the ever-important values of conservation and environmentalism, but it also surrounds students in the middle of a controversy. Never should students feel the need of removing themselves from an activity or feel guilt when participating.

Multiple friends of mine at Mount Carmel have messaged me, expressing their disgust at the decision. One of them says he will still go to prom, though he feels horrible about it.

The documentary Blackfish has sparked a fire already burning, igniting a battle that has been waged for the past 40 years. Though SeaWorld is helpful to our economy and engages in rescue and release efforts, they fail to speak out against the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji (though they no longer take dolphins), continue to pollute Mission Bay, have violated animal welfare laws on multiple occasions, force employees to work in unsafe conditions, and subject cetaceans to immense stress and shortened life spans in captivity.

According to the NOAA, killer whales are held in tanks one ten-thousandth the 45.3 billion gallons of water, or 80 miles, they traverse a day in the wild. Orcas live far shorter in captivity than they do in the wild, rarely living over the age of 15. They are trapped in a small, confined environment facing extreme stress.

To counter this, they are given Tagamet and other medications with their daily diet. Yet SeaWorld claims their whales are healthy and happy.

It is no wonder these magnificent creatures, who have only attacked a human in one instance in the wild, have attacked their trainers in over 110 instances. They are psychologically distressed.

Orkid, one of the captive-born orcas at SeaWorld San Diego, has attacked trainers on multiple occasions. According to The Vindicator, she had to watch her mother, Kandu V, die when she was less than a year old. Kandu attempted to rake Corky II and fractured her jaw and severed several arteries. For weeks after her mother's death, Orkid circled around the pool, calling out and vocalizing in distress. Yet in shows after the incident the crowd clapped and cheered as she performed without her mother, as if her death was completely forgotten. But Orkid, one of the smartest cetaceans currently held in captivity (in terms of learning trained behaviors), still remembers.

52 of SeaWorld’s orcas have died, not a single one due to natural causes. When another orca is born, they are given the stage name Shamu, covering up the death of their predecessors. As a SeaWorld trainer put it when Kandu died, “The best thing we can think of to do is to get back into some sort of normal routine.”

SeaWorld's breeding program is absolutely despicable. Kalia is only 9 years old and is halfway into a pregnancy. In the wild, orcas do not breed until an average age of 14-15. What SeaWorld is doing to female orcas is the equivalent of impregnating a pre-teen child. It's sick. 

In captivity, orcas rarely, if ever, get to choose their mates. Males are masturbated for their sperm and females are artificially inseminated. That, to me, is one of the most cruel aspects of the breeding program. It's a forced rape. Although cetaceans are polygamous and humans are monogamous, what if a human was unable to choose who he/she loved? Killer whales, and all cetaceans for that matter, have no control over their social bonds in captivity. That is why it is common to see unnatural behaviors of aggression.

"The only way a captive breeding program is of assistance to endangered species is if the animals produced by the breeding program have any chance of being returned to the wild. SeaWorld has never and will never return any of its orcas to the wild. They are breeding them to replace animals that die in their captive 'collection.'" - Dr. Naomi Rose.

 Instead of this abuse, SeaWorld could display IMAXs, have trips to the tide pools, have their own whale watching boat for visitors, and still keep their rides and benefit the city from their sales and minimum rent of $10 million each year. They could become a true leader in rescue and rehabilitation, and finally speak out against the slaughter in Taiji, instead of remaining silent.

I do not wish for SeaWorld to be closed down, but for them to change their business model in accordance with the bill, AB 2140, which would end the use of orcas for entertainment, SeaWorld’s breeding program, and release all orcas into sea pens or the wild if possible. All cetaceans should be included.

 SeaWorld strongly asserts education, but in their responses to Blackfish they have misled their audience, if not flat-out lying.

They claim that keeping cetaceans in captivity has scientific value and will help benefit the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population in Puget Sound. They claim scientists have no understanding of why they have declined. Ironically, SeaWorld's captures back in the 70s and 80s tore apart the k-specialist (slow-breeding) population.

Furthermore, there are more adequate ways to provide the ever-important education on conservation and the importance of the oceans. Classes could attend a beach clean-up one day or go whale watching. The Hornblower sees whales almost every day during migrating season and dolphins can be seen on the coast every morning.

If SeaWorld released their captive cetaceans to sea pens - where they could have a more natural environment while still being cared for - and implicated the other changes discussed, field trips to these sea pens would provide a more natural and educational setting.

Until SeaWorld makes these changes, I ask that the district remove all activities to SeaWorld within their jurisdiction.

Regardless of our differing opinions on the welfare of the animals held captive in SeaWorld, students should not be forced to take sides in a controversy. There are better, more educational alternatives.

Sincerely,
Zach Affolter
Grade 11
Westview High School

Founder, Declare Cetacean Rights
Social Media Campaigner, Video Producer, and Writer at Protest SeaWorld
Junior Activist Captain, Earthrace

*Certain words taken from my article for the OB Rag, an online newspaper with a progressive/grassroots perspective: http://obrag.org/?p=82830

More information/Sources regarding SeaWorld:

We don't want to shut SeaWorld down. We want SeaWorld to stop their breeding program and release all captive cetaceans into enclosed sea pens. We want SeaWorld to truly embody their so called principals of conservation and education and speak out about SeaWorld's indifference towards Taiji and the inadequate living-conditions of orcas around the world. Richard Bloom's AB 2140 bill would place legislation insuring many of these same points.

In SeaWorld's website where they reveal the "truth," an abundance of mis-information and outright lies can be found.

Links to the REAL truth:
Blackfish's response to SeaWorld's criticisms: http://www.scribd.com/doc/218098897/Blackfish-Response-to-SeaWorld-69-Critique

SeaWorld responsible for decline of Southern Residents: http://withoutmethereisnou.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/will-seaworld-ever-accept-responsibilty-for-what-they-did-to-the-southern-resident-killer-whales/

SeaWorld separating mothers from calves (note - SeaWorld and Loro Parque are in close ties, Lolita is held in Miami SeaQuarium) - http://www.orcanetwork.org/captivity/CaptiveseparationlistFinal.pdf

Distance orcas swim in wild (from renowned journalist David Kirby) - http://www.takepart.com/photos/wild-killer-whales/orcas-in-the-open-ocean

Life expectancy of orcas in wild: According to the NOAA, "males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years; females typically live about 50 years,but can live as long as 80-90 years. " SeaWorld themselves states the same claim by scientists on their website: "a female's life expectancy is 50 years and a male's is 30 years."

It is a wonder, then, that in their attacks to Blackfish they have claimed that "SeaWorld's killer whales' life spans are equivalent with those in the wild."

Lifespan of cetaceans in captivity: http://www.orcahome.de/lifeexpectancy.htm
"Average time in captivity for all whales currently alive in captivity: 15 years, 6 months"

Killer whales in captivity: "Killer whales in captivity have an annual mortality rate that is 2.5 times higher than killer whales in the Pacific Northwest [where males can live 60-70 years and females over 90]" (David Kirby, http://deathatseaworld.com/?page_id=28).

Collapsed dorsal fins: Interview with Dr. Astrid van Ginneken and Dave Ellifrit of Orca Survey by Dr. Jeff Ventre and David Kirby (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awpAiyfTecg)

"According to cetacean scientists, less than 1% of wild whales have dorsal fin collapse, and most of these cases are attributed to illness or injury, with a small genetic factor. Dr. Ingrid Visser published a paper which demonstrates that 23% of New Zealand orcas have abnormal dorsal fins. SeaWorld and their fans, have often distorted and misused this statistic by applying it to all wild orcas" (http://cetaceaninspiration.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/why-does-an-orcas-dorsal-fin-collapse/)

SeaWorld has not said a word or done anything to stop the drive hunts in Taiji, which they could play a major voice in ending. They could push IMATA (International Marine Animal Trainers Association) and WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) to outlaw the capturing and slaughtering of cetaceans. They have even publically denounced "The Cove," which increased public awareness of the hunts.

Does SeaWorld take dolphins from Taiji?
By David Kirby (http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/09/14/seaworlds-convoluted-logic-taijis-dolphin-slaughter):

"We stopped [buying] and have not resumed, not because we are ashamed, but it was not something that we cared to be involved with any more," Jacobs (SeaWorld spokesman) said. "It is difficult to go over there even if you are saving animals, and that is how we viewed it," he added, without specifying whether the difficulty in going to Taiji pertained to witnessing the bloodbath firsthand, or arranging travel and transport logistics.

And in regards to the rest of their claims on scientific research, it is hard to acknowledge the rest of their research - as true as it may be - on the sleeping habits, metabolism, vocalization, and reproduction of Killer Whales while SeaWorld still enslaves sentient beings and twists a lot of scientific data to their advantage.

This research that SeaWorld boasts can still be conducted if orcas and other captive cetaceans are released into sea pens, and data would be more accurate to those of wild populations.

Make sure to join us in protest of SeaWorld's cruelty on May 10th (San Diego only)!
More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/399137250226266/

Follow Protest SeaWorld:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/protestseaworldsandiego
Twitter: @ProtestSW
Instagram: @protestseaworld

Follow Declare Cetacean Rights:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/declarecetaceanrights

For more information, please visit: http://www.declarecetaceanrights.org/



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