By Barb Dunsmore / Special from the OB Rag
When it comes to impassioned feelings about SeaWorld, most readers of the OB Rag are well aware that much has recently been written, discussed, filmed, and documented. The world began to take notice with the release of Gabriella Cowperthwaite’s documentary Blackfish. It started with ripples of awareness that have now become waves of deep concern. The worldwide anger the movie unleashed is nearly impossible to ignore.
While SeaWorld was celebrating their 50th anniversary last Friday [March 21], everyday citizens, myself included, were standing on Sea World Drive protesting 50 years of inhumane captivity, drawing attention to what we, and a growing number of people around the world see as a new vision for SeaWorld: the recently proposed California Captive Orca Welfare and Safety Act – AB 2140. A new vision that could be a win-win for the orcas and SeaWorld alike, where the orcas would finally be free from the confines and cruel control inflicted upon them daily.
Who are we that protest you ask?
We are a growing group of passionate believers in the equality of humans and non-humans to live in this world without cruelty or enslavement or captivity of any kind. We want our children to revere all animals and not see them as something here for our entertainment, but rather have an undying respect and appreciation for them.
We are professional doctors, lawyers, small business owners, students, teachers, writers, artists, parents, environmentalists from all walks of life. We come from a place of integrity and a united desire to see animals treated just the way we all wish to be treated. What a concept!
We want to encourage the efforts of Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D), Santa Monica, to pass Assembly Bill 2140—California Captive Orca Welfare and Safety Act and hope you will join us in this effort. (More on that below.)
We don’t want SeaWorld to shut its doors
We do not want Sea World to shut its doors; nor do we believe the passage of AB 2140 would result in the closing of SeaWorld or be a huge revenue loss for the City of San Diego. Rather, quite the opposite. SeaWorld doesn’t need to close to operate more humanely – it just needs to change its business model.
Today’s most popular attractions involve everything from visual, interactive, digitized features that both entertain as well as educate the public. Now with gigantic animatronics and life-size animation facets, we are brought into worlds of everything from distant planets, under-the-sea life, exotic and ever-so-realistic monsters, dinosaurs, sharks, etc. The possibilities are limitless. SeaWorld could very well be as globally exciting as Disneyland, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Universal Studios, and so many other huge entertainment venues that do not involve captive, performing animals.
The reality is that Sea World is not the happy-go-lucky world it appears to be. There is something rotten festering beneath the waters. The orcas–captive, inbred, kidnapped from their pods, mothers and babies torn away from each other in agony, isolated in solitary confinement and suffering from everything from physical diseases to mental trauma—these are the “performers” captured for entertainment solely for the commercial coffers of Sea World.
We can no longer applaud the tragedy we now know exists behind the scenes. There needs to be a new and more compassionate Sea World—a beautiful new perspective that will change not only the lives of what we call the ‘San Diego 10,’ but generations of other marine mammals imprisoned in the name of “family entertainment.”
Meet the ‘San Diego 10’
Meet the ‘San Diego 10’:
- Corky II, captive 45 yrs.;
- Kasatka, captive 36 yrs.:
- Ulises captive 34 yrs. – all three wild caught, kidnapped from their mothers, their pods. Then there is
- and Orkid,– all captive bred held prisoner from 13 months to 21 yrs., respectively. – See here
SeaWorld, you have made millions, if not billions off the capture, breeding and confinement of these massive, beautiful, intelligent orcas for decades. Don’t you think it’s time you give something back to them? Use your billions to invest in and release the ‘San Diego 10’ to seaside sanctuaries, if not the wild. It’s time for a moral, ethical and compassionate change, Sea World. The world is watching…Empty the Tanks.
The students of Pt. Loma High School have a message for you SeaWorld.
Here is what you can do right now. Call and/or write to:
1. Your own Assemblymember. (Find here / )
2. The Assemblymembers on the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. (Find here )
• AB 2140 must be approved by Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee FIRST in order for it to move forward. Hearing date has not yet been set but we are hopeful it will be sometime in April.
3. The Assemblymembers on the Appropriations Committee (once the bill has been referred to this committee, we will put the word out, no need to call them yet).
Contact info for this committee may be found here
If your Assemblymember sits on one of the committees in which the bill will be heard, make sure you say it will be heard in the committee when communicating your support. Supporters should write to their Assemblymember, as well as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee in which the bill will be heard next (at present, that would be Assemblymembers Rendon and Bigelow).
Messages should be polite, concise and to-the-point: A simple “I Support AB 2140” sponsored by Assemblymember Bloom, will suffice.
And lastly, please sign this Petition to the State of California joining over 1,131,000 others who support the passage of AB 2140 –
“The greatest kindness to be achieved here would be to end breeding and prevent any new captures from being brought in, so the whole concept just fades away. That way the bad idea of cetacean captivity that is and always has been can be put behind us.” ~ Kaarina Makowski.
SeaWorld’s 50th Anniversary Protest
Note: Very recently “a bill that would ban keeping orca whales in captivity in New York passed in the state’s Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, meaning that it is one step closer to being signed into law.”
San Diegan for 39yrs says
Thank you SDFreePress! To the readers, we got word late last night that this bill, AB 2140 has finally been assigned to the WATER, PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMITTEE for it’s FIRST HEARING, scheduled for Tuesday APRIL 8th at 9:00 AM (the amended language will not be on-line until early next week. For updates, please see
So, please use the links in article and MAKE THE CALL/WRITE to your Assembly members NOW!
Captive cetaceans tragically sad says
Well said, no one wants them closed, just changed. How can one animal be deemed worthy of release above another? UK theme parks function very well, make lots of money from rides etc and there isn’t a captive cetacean in sight. WDC is English they rescue all over the globe, but don’t need to see an orca in a tank to do so. If Jobs are lost that is Seaworld’s doing, as they would rather close down that admit the 50 year experiment has gone wrong and help those creatures live a better life. For those who defend them, they said they had to have waterworks yet boast record attendance, so is that a lie or are they just afraid of the unknown?
Jerry Ashton says
As a former resident of San Diego (Point Loma area) and with family still there, I feel qualified to add my several cents.
My focus is on the “business model” which needs to be rethought by SeaWorld. It amazes me that, no matter the industry, the resistance to change and doing things right always rears its head (GM, the coal and oil industry, likely examples).
Change the d*** business model and come into the 20th century. You’ll attract more, not fewer, visitors.
Julian Christian says
You mean the 21st century obviously but yeah you are 100% correct otherwise.
Chris West says
The atmosphere at SeaWorld is fun and festive, with the orcas seemingly happy wearing their trademark “smile” doing tricks for their human admirers. However, upon seeing Blackfish, more was revealed about how the orcas are treated and how they actually display what to us humans would be considered sociopathic behavior, including Tilikum killing not one, but three trainers. I recommend anyone who does not see any problem with orcas in captivity used to perform “cute” circus tricks to see this movie. SeaWorld execs have condemned the movie as being misleading yet have refused to participate in an open dialogue of this documentary film.
Want to educate families on how marine mammals live? With modern technology we can see how they act in nature in their pods, with video and sound technology. Would extraterrestrial aliens study humans in their natural habitat or inside prisons with concrete walls? For educational opportunities, the choice is obvious. SeaWorld has the financial resources and ability to help us learn about how marine mammals live in the real “Sea World”. It’s the right thing to do for the animals and for real educational opportunities for our families.
Berenice Weber says
We are evolving as a species ourselves, everyday we are understanding more our surroundings and the beautiful beings that we share this planet with, keeping these beautiful orcas in captivity doesn’t make sense, imagine being taken away from your family to live in an sterile surrounding; the orcas bred in captivity have never had the chance to go out free in the ocean, they have never played among other fish or hide behind marine plants, they live in the most boring surroundings; people get to the SeaWorld to see them perform, the orcas do this to win their food, but at the end of the show, humans get to go home, to go outside & run, the orcas stay in prison, in a boring pool ALL the time, they never get to go home & rest, & have privacy… It is inhumane to treat any animal like this… Remember these animals are held there against their will, if given the choice, they would be in the ocean, who are we to take their freedom from them?
Jim Rizor says
Imagine if someone went out into the surf off any of our local beaches and began capturing dolphin to display for profit. That person would be arrested (and maybe beat up) for harassing our ocean friends. Why do we approve of captivity SeaWorld? Orcas and dolphin depend upon sonar and they are put into concrete pools with loud music playing around them. We all got hooked into cetacean entertainment with the show “Flipper” but Flipper got to come and go as he wished — and it was a complete fiction… Dolphin live in pods that are extended families and what SeaWorld does is equivalent to what was done to African slaves being separated. These are highly intelligent creatures — our brethren from the sea who need to stretch their fins whenever they wish. Seaworld tries to provide a nice play for families to go spend a pleasant day together, but that should not be at the sake of cruelty to these beautiful and complex creatures. Stop cetacean captivity for entertainment profit!!!
Lollo Peters says
No animal should live in captivity. Imagine apes keeping the last humans in a cage – would you like to take a seat there ? ;-)
Hunter Shaffer says
Despite the misconceptions about the “anti captivity” movement and stereotypes within it, I strongly urge everyone who read this article today to take action. Whether it be calling in, writing a letter or an email or even spreading the word about AB 2140: Don’t be silent. Please, do something.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” ~ Desmond Tutu
Eric Mills says
Bishop Tutu was likely inspired by Dante, who wrote,
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral crisis.”
And I like this one from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax: “If somebody like YOU doesn’t care a whole awful lot, then nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Free the whales!
Heather L says
Bravo! This is a wonderful article about an extremely important topic. Orcas and dolphins are far too social and intelligent to be held prisoner in a chlorinated concrete tank, isolated from their family members, withheld food to perform “tricks” for tourists. AB 2140 has been assigned a date for its first hearing on April 8, 2014! We have to do everything we can to inform the public about the cruelty of holding cetaceans prisoners in sea parks. It’s time for Seaworld to evolve, free the San Diego 10!
Seaworld is a archaic form of entertainment, going back to times when animals were thought to have no rights or feelings. It’s about time we moved into the 21st century and allow these magnificent animals their freedom to live in the environment they were born into.
Ending the captivity of Orca’s is way overdue. The fact that these animals have been stolen from their natural habitat, enslaved, forcefully inseminated to produce offspring, solely to create a business to entertain people is demonstrably unethical. It is baffling that it still exists in this day and age. I fully support Assembly member Bloom’s bill AB 2140.
The sea is precious to San Diegans. We support scientific research that preserves our oceans and the rich life it contains. Capture and cruel use of wild animals for entertainment is not part of that plan and most San Diegans find it abhorrent once they understand the issue. It’s time to move past this sad chapter.
Animals are not clowns. There are not on the planet to entertain us. Let them be free. Don’t go to Seaworld please. Dolphins and whales belong to the oceans not tanks.
informative article about the inhumane treatment of intelligent beings. Our knowledge is evolving about the world around us. The Orcas must be returned to their natural habitat. Free the San Diego 10.
San Diegan for 39yrs says
I just got word that AB 2140 will also be heard by Assembly Arts & Entertainment Committee on April 22nd so we need to write/call those members as well (they demanded jurisdiction because it will impinge on tourism.)
Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, & Internet Media
1020 N Street, Room 152
Sacramento, California 95814
916.319.3450 phone 916.319.3451 fax
Committee Member contact list here:
Eric Mills says
With all due respect, “San Diegan for 39yrs,” I think it would be wise to wait until after the bill passes out of the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, before writing to the Arts & Entertainment Committee.There’s a very good chance that the bill could be amended, for better or worse.
And that first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, 9:00 a.m. Would be good to pack the hearing room with supporters (room 437 in the State Capitol).
To keep updated on the status of AB 2140, see: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov
ALL STATE LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814.
Eric Mills, coordinator
ACTION FOR ANIMALS
Patrick Corsi says
“There is about as much educational benefit to be gained in studying dolphins in captivity as
there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary confinement.”
Hi there everyone ! This petition against marine mammal captivity and exploitation still needs your help. Please help us by sharing it to places beyond my imagination . I understand there are so many petitions going around (because I sign so many of them too), but what comes around goes around and we’re all in this together. 12 countries in Europe have already outlawed the exploitation and captivity of marine mammals. Please help us get the European Parliament to validate such laws for the whole territory. Thank you so much ! The oceans are all connected. Here is the link to share some more if you like, (for those of you who have already signed it):
Photo: Moorea Dolphin Expedition
Paige Nelson says
No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal. – Jacques Yves Cousteau.
San Diegan for 39yrs says
Thanks Eric. I think I just found you on FB, sent you a message so would you please check your messages?
Eric Mills says
Sorry, I can’t MYSELF on FB.
Here’s my email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please try again.
Teresa Wagner says
Bravo! This article says it all. It is time to put an end to the cruel practice of orca captivity. Thank you Assemblymember Bloom for introducing this important legislation, and thank you Barb Dunsmore for this article. Thank you especially for including the names of the individual whales who have lost decades of their lives to captivity–they are *real* individual beings, not merely the products of a corporation. They are not widgets; they are live, sentient beings with names. And thank you for describing so well that we who want the whales free do not advocate harm to SeaWorld, but rather a new business model where everyone wins–the whales who deserve to be free, SeaWorld who can still make billions, and the tourists who can learn an awful lot more from viewing whales in sea pens doing things whale naturally do than watching whales being a caricature of themselves doing stupid circus tricks in order to get food.
joey racano says
San Diego cannot make a credible argument about losing tourists if they release orcas. Joey Racano
Joey Racano 6:01pm Mar 29
San Diego can’t argue tourism with a straight face. They have 0 cred, operating as they do, under a waiver of section 301(h) of the Clean Water Act, allowing the City of San Diego to dump sewage (300 million gallons every day!) into the sea from Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant without having treated it to full secondary standards, which was the minimum requirement by law 45 years ago! They don’t care about tourism at all if they are saving money on treatment and allowing hotel guests and surfers to get gastro-intestinal illness. For the past half century!! This is the only waiver of its kind left in California. Tourism? San Diego? I don’t think so.
Joey Racano, Director
Ocean Outfall Group
Madhumathy. Sugavanam says
Sea World could still continue to be very profitable other by building an IMAX theatre showcasing the Orcas and dolphins, their lives, their freedom and joy in the open ocean! People would still flock to Sea World. They just need to stop keeping captive cetaceans in small tanks and let them retire in an ocean sanctuary. After all the years and years of captivity and work, they certainly deserve a taste of normal life in the oceans, where they belong. Please sign this petition – http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-sea-world-to-release-their-orcas-and-dolphins-to-ocean-sanctuaries
Howard Garrett says
There are responsible solutions to the economic rationales for marine theme parks. Let the wizards of Hollywood loose on them. Those imagineers would rapidly put forth a huge range of intensely personal experiences with whales and dolphins by becoming one of them, in their undersea world, streaking and squeeking through the depths. Experiences could be changed often and fans would flock to go into their world and the actual whales and dolphins would be respected and protected. I think everyone would feel better that way.
San Diegan for 39yrs says
This is apparently not an April Fools story based on the sources quoted.
SeaWorld Admits To Giving Orcas Anti-Anxiety Drugs
If release whale and dolphin to the ocean, then all animal in the zoo should release too.
It is safe to keep killer whale in SeaWorld more than in the ocean. Others countries will get them soon. America is safest place to stay. Let the SeaWorld take care of them, and let the American kids do study about the habitats in the ocean in the SeaWorld. If no Shamu show is no SeaWorld.
Heather L says
Abby, with all due respect, do some research. By saying “It is safe to keep killer whale in SeaWorld more than in the ocean” it is the exact same thing as saying it’s safer to keep someone locked a dungeon then letting them out into the real world. Seaworld does not teach kids ANYTHING! except that keeping social, intelligent beings in a chlorinated concrete tank for human’s amusement is ok. Seaworld can still be highly profitable with following a humane business model. As of now, there is absolutely nothing educational about Seaworld.
Laura Warren says
The first legislative hearing of AB 2140 is scheduled for April 8 at 9am in ROOM 437 of the State Capitol in Sacramento. This is a public hearing before the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. Supporters of this bill are encouraged to attend and state their support of the bill. Public support is crucial; don’t assume that others are going to do the work for you. SeaWorld has hired lobbyists that have already canvassed the Capitol. Share this important information with friends, colleagues, and those who care about the welfare of captive orcas. We cannot let this opportunity pass by.