It’s been two weeks since we did the in-class study of animal cruelty. Two weeks and it is still constantly on my mind. Thinking about what we were researching makes me feel sick and horribly angry. I’ve also annoyed my boyfriend because apparently I never stop talking about Blackfish either. I’ve always been an animal lover and growing up have always believed that I have this ability to connect with animals – like an animal whisperer.
Contrary to my opinion regarding ‘ignorance is bliss’ in relation to war images, in terms of animal cruelty, I’ve (quite ashamedly) remained dutifully ignorant. This is in no way because I don’t care, it is because I can’t stand to watch or know of these instances happening and knowing about it makes me deeply sad.
When watching the Four Corners episode on the live cattle exports to Indonesia, I found that my head was constantly turned, I couldn’t bare to watch what was happening. I struggled to even watch the ‘humane’ method of stunning cattle. While I think that this expose was necessary, I personally preferred the bubble that I was living in prior to watching this. Eating meat has always been a sensitive point for myself. I am not a vegetarian. I have tried several times, but have not followed through. Not because I am low-driven, but because I am human, and humans were made omnivores. We need the protein that is in both meat and plants. While there are substances available, I find that my body really struggles with the absence of meat in my diet.
However, in saying that, monitoring how these animals are being prepared for the abattoir needs to be strict. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for hurting and injuring animals, not only for the sake of the animal, but also for the consumer as the meat isn’t going to be tender if the animal’s muscles were tight at the time of death.
In regards to Blackfish, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such an arrangement of emotion in 90minutes in my life! The set up that SeaWorld has with the Orcas is beyond disgusting. Knowing what I do now since having watched Blackfish has left me feeling noticeably dumb and so naive as to what’s really going on. SeaWorld, like many other theme parks, really plays on the Disney effect. Happiness is constantly felt because everything is being so well looked after ….. NOT! Before watching Blackfish, the concept of their Orcas being held captive had never occurred to me. I believed in these amazing relationships between human and Killer Whale. I thought it was interesting to learn that the former SeaWorld trainers that were featured in the film were under the same belief too, proving that SeaWorld is particularly good at deceiving all. For the duration of the film I was in a state of shock. I was under the assumption that the animals used at SeaWorld were rescued, and was severely disheartened to learn that they were captured and separated from their families. You would’t take a child from a mother, so how does SeaWorld justify taking a calf from its mother? Clearly, they justify it with dollar signs. Which is sick, but also proven in several cases regarding the death of trainers at their parks. It’s become almost a pattern now, that when a death occurs at a SeaWorld or affiliate park, the blame is quickly pointed at the trainer. This is absolutely cowardly. There are several reasons as to why Orcas have killed trainers, for example frustration – the pools that they are kept in are in no way comparative to their natural habitat, to make comparisons, it would be like a human being trapped inside a 4×4 room for the entirety of their lives. I know I certainly would’t enjoy that, so what makes SeaWorld think a huge, wild animal would enjoy being held captive in a tiny pool when compared to their natural environment of the ocean?!
Another reason for trainer deaths affiliated with Orcas is because the Orca simply wants to play, although for obvious reasons, Orca’s and humans playing together isn’t going to work. Another (obvious) reason for Orca’s attacking is because it is in their nature! They are wild animals who pray on smaller sized species. When hungry or being starved of food, if a human foot is to slip into the pool, of course they are going to lunge for it – it’s food!
While these are just some examples as to why captive Orca’s have attacked humans, they are enough to prove that no matter how well a person may think they know an animal, they can’t change what natural instincts these animals have!
While I am glad that SeaWorld haven’t euthanised Tilikum (the whale that most recently killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau) our reasons for keeping him alive are very different. Instead of putting Tilikum in a Sea Sanctuary (as explained in a National Geographic interview with a former SeaWorld trainer) SeaWorld have kept Tilikum as their sperm donor. They pay people to masturbate this whale on a regular basis so that they can gather the sperm and inseminate other female whales. While this is blatantly disgusting, this also creates further issues as the majority of the whales being produced at SeaWorld are fathered by Tilikum, meaning that SeaWorld have created inbred whales.
While the easy thing to say in protest to SeaWorld is ‘release the Orca’s’, unfortunately this can’t be done. As most of the whales have been raised in captivity (and are inbred), there are a lot of health issues which surround that, making Sea Sanctuaries the best place for them.
Since watching Blackfish, I have re-watched it, researched articles related to Orca’s being held captive and searched for organisations petitioning against SeaWorld. With companies like National Geographic interviewing former trainers and advocates against SeaWorld emerging, I hope that the end to Orca’s in captivity will be coming to an end soon. I know I’m definitely going to be doing what I best can to help this movement!