Thursday, February 25, 2010

the dilemma of captivity

I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at SeaWorld yesterday. It's such a loss all around ... the death of a dedicated, animal-loving trainer and a reminder that the instincts of wild animals are unnaturally suppressed in a captive environment.

I was reminded of my post back on May 5, 2008, where I raised the question of animals in captivity, including at places like SeaWorld. It's a struggle in my mind ... you know how it's my mission to speak up for the voiceless animals! I surely recognize the benefit of public awareness of these amazing creatures, and how it leads to protections for them in the wild. After all, when it comes to animal welfare, education & awareness can open our human minds and hearts to compassion & empathy.

But perhaps the price that captive animals pay for the sake of our "education" is too high? It's my understanding that killer whales are no longer captured and brought into captivity, which is good news. Nonetheless, I question the psychological trauma that these complex creatures must feel living in anti-social, confined conditions.

And since my 2008 post, I've been to Alaska. And I saw orcas in the wild, swimming contentedly with their pods in open waters. They are curious, playful, and obviously enjoy being social with their family. They came over to our boat to have a look AT US !!!
How can this scene be compared to a lonely tank? Let's re-think the concept of captivity.

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