Home » Bottom Highlights, Politically Aware » The LGBT community must unite against SeaWorld’s oppression

The LGBT community must unite against SeaWorld’s oppression

Guest Commentary

As a member of the LGBT community, I found it disturbing that Nicole Murray-Ramirez would try to persuade us – a group that knows all too well the pain and frustration of being denied rights – to support SeaWorld, a corporation that deprives orcas and other animals of their fundamental rights as well as everything that is natural and important to them.

Captive orcas and dolphins are not given the opportunity to make a single decision about their own lives. They can’t explore new and interesting places, interact with members of a pod, enjoy the bonds of a family hierarchy or even choose their own mate. Confined to cramped tanks and forced to perform demeaning tricks in front of screaming crowds, it’s no wonder that most captive marine mammals become depressed, anxious and neurotic.

A PETA Foundation veterinarian recently visited SeaWorld’s facilities in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando and documented that the animals held captive in these facilities float listlessly and are so stressed out that they’ve destroyed their teeth by chewing on the sides and bars of the tanks. Their bodies are riddled with scars and lesions that are likely the result of attacking one another out of frustration. In the ocean, orcas can swim away from aggressive encounters, but those trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks are unable to escape. I can’t imagine the terror of having no way to escape from a tormentor.

SeaWorld spends only a paltry 1 percent of its annual profit on studying orcas in the wild, but it doesn’t take a special study to realize that no tank would ever be adequate. In the vast ocean where they belong, orcas dive deep and swim up to 100 miles a day, often at high speeds. Even in SeaWorld’s planned “expanded” tanks, orcas would have to swim more than 1,500 laps each day to do the same.

All captive adult male orcas, along with some adult females, have collapsed dorsal fins – an aberration that almost never occurs in the wild. If given the choice, orcas usually remain in their extended family pods for life, but SeaWorld routinely separates terrified offspring from their distraught mothers and ships them off to other parks. Former trainers describe these separations and the cries of the anguished orcas as gut-wrenching.

After seeing how SeaWorld mistreats animals, many trainers have quit in disgust and even spoken out against the company, which seems to care as little about the safety and well-being of its employees as it does about the orcas it exploits.

Even after experienced trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum the orca, the company fought hard to keep trainers in the water with the animals. A top executive at The Blackstone Group, SeaWorld’s largest shareholder at the time, even tried to blame Brancheau – who by all accounts was dedicated to her job and extremely competent – for making mistakes that caused her own death.

SeaWorld was cited and fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing employees to life-threatening hazards. According to one OSHA official, “SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals. Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges, and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals.”

Everyone deserves the right to pursue what makes them happy. But the orcas, dolphins and other animals trapped in SeaWorld’s tanks never enjoy such freedom. As a community that has struggled long and hard to overcome oppression and disrespect – the very things that the captive animals at SeaWorld are constantly subjected to – how could any of us ever feel that SeaWorld is worthy of our support?

Gray Caskey is a senior director at PETA.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63884

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Politically Aware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

9 Comments for “The LGBT community must unite against SeaWorld’s oppression”

  1. Yes im responding to Nicole Murray Ramirez re; Support Sea World. Before you write such an article u better tune up your journalism tools. None of your facts can be backed up, you site loose names of agencies that support Sea World. Do you even know why? Sea World sits on all those panels. The orcas,dolphins are terribly mistreated,drugged,starved to perform etc.. this all has video proof and more. PETA and Blackfish should be applauded for what they have done to help these creatures and enlighten the public, not thrown under the bus for exposing the truth. You really need to check your facts before you publish such untrue and bad journalism

  2. Well what a surprise here. The author of this article is a is a senior director at PETA. So we can take this article with a small grain of salt. It means nothing coming from him.

  3. Ladies and gentlemen,
    Before you make any judgment on SeaWorld based upon the misleading arguments of this article and the film “Blackfish”, please do your own research on the subject. Writers from PETA are very much like politicians. They tailor their speeches and propaganda to the audience. Gray is trying to manipulate your emotions by equating SeaWorld’s display and treatment of the animals in its care to the oppression and disrespect the LGBT has received and unfortunately is still subjected to in many communities. Organizations such as PETA mislead the public by omitting and twisting facts to fit their agenda. They would have you believe that SeaWorld is an evil entity using animals for profit. (My veterinarian and dog groomer uses animals for profit, does that make them evil?) SeaWorld’s animals receive some of the best care in the world from people who are experts in the field of marine mammals and animal behavior. The orcas are never forced to perform “tricks” as PETA would have you believe. When you do your research look into when these former trainers who state that the whales were starved to perform actually worked for the parks. Most left or were fired 20 years ago. Many things in the zoological community have changed during that period including the methods used in animal training and SeaWorld is one of the leaders in that change. I have worked professionally with animals for 25 years as a wildlife rehabilitator, zookeeper, and environmental educator. I have seen the changes take place and am proud to be an employee of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.

  4. An environmental educator? So you believe educating our children on keeping wild whales & dolphins in concrete tanks & seperating young orcas from their mothers is a proud career? Educator? Disgusting but I guess that babble helps you sleep at night

    • Kate,
      The babble that you speak of is knowing that my work and the work of facilities such as SeaWorld do more for educating the public as to what is really happening in the wild and contributing to the saving of wildlife across the globe. I have worked in the field as a biologist and have had the opportunity to see many beautiful animals in the wild. Zoos and aquariums like SeaWorld bring those animals into the lives of millions of people every year. More people visit zoological facilities every year than visit NFL,NHL,MLB games combined. Zoos and aquariums are entertaining. People enjoy seeing the animals up-close and first hand. They do this in a manner that does not pose a negative risk to themselves or the environment. By visiting these facilities they contribute more to environmental protection in one year than PETA or the HSUS have contributed in their entire existence. I sleep well at night knowing that the guests of my facility that I have interacted with go home with experiences they will cherish for the rest of their lives. I try to leave them feeling empowered to make a change in their lives that will make a positive change in the world around them. I am very proud of my career choice. I have had children that I taught 10 to 15 years ago that are now biologists and educators and leaders in their community. People who have chosen to use their education and experiences to try to make a positive impact in the natural world around them. Their experience at SeaWorld made them better stewards for the environment, it kept the spark of awe in the world around them very personal and very much alive.
      What have you done with your career and personal life to help protect wildlife? Does it help you sleep at night? Or does trolling the internet and trying to belittle others do that for you?

  5. It is Impossible to take this cause against SeaWorld seriously when one’s argument is based on lies. The condition of the animals described by PETAs veterinarian is a lie. I have seen the animals myself and none match the description They are active and appear to be in good health. PETA is counting on people to take them at their word and not see for themselves. Those that blindly listen to PETA must also forget PETA has an agenda to rid the world of all human animal relationships. If you browse their site deep enough you will read how they are even against the domestication of our furry dog and cat companions. Their arguments are based on lies. No proof of their claims. Remember SeaWorld is the one on the front lines rescuing and rehabilitating injured and sick animals. Yes SeaWorld is a corporation but they are one whose mission is to protect animals and their environments. The experiences they provide foster a care and concern for these animals that is absent from viewing from afar. It is said you teach the mind by touching the heart. Do not be so quick to judge SeaWorld based solely on the claims of an activist organization with an agenda. pETA too attempts to touch the heart, but with lies.

  6. Any one, who thinks Sea World”s good deeds gives them a pass to abuse other animals in their care, will neer never get it. Of course one of you is employed by Sea World. Sea World exploits orcas, mistreats them, deprives them of a real life with other whales, just for starters. I hardly think any child is enlightened after seeing a whale jump thru a hoop and going home with a stuffed animal of Shamu. Get real. Its time fo Sea World to close its doors. U will never see me or any of my straight or gay friends walking thru their gates.

    • Tony,
      What abuse have you seen? Have you seen the whales and dolphins being mistreated? I have worked with and around animals most of my life. I have worked with several facilities and volunteered at others. I have seen animal neglect and abusive conditions and they most definitely were not at SeaWorld. As I said, I am proud to have worked for their parks for more than 20 years.

  7. Have you noticed that nobody is using the world captivity anymore? There’s a reason for that. Newsflash for all of you PETA supporters: If you haven’t already heard, PETA and other groups have an agenda to close SEAWORLD because it would conflict and take money away from their plan to open their own facility, similar to seaworld, but with several differences. The plan calls for putting hundreds of sea animals into SEA PENS for your viewing pleasure. These animals will still be captive, but bunched together without a filtration system to clean their waste and no human interaction for medical care. Sounds awesome, right? Don’t believe me? Look it up. Google the plans . It’s all there, they even envaled it at a conference recently. Blackfish and the stupid lawsuits are all a w as te of time and resources that PETA could be spending on actually saving anumals, the money used is from your generous donations. You’re hard earned money is being spent on stealing animals from people’s homes and eurhanizing them, thousands of them. You’re money is being spent on paying members wearing leather sneakers and belts and carrying leather handbags to stand in front of seaworld holding a sign. You’re money is being spent on holding a sign at an actual manatee rescue where 19 lives were saved and sent back to the sea by rescuers and volunteers from seaworld, instead of putting the sign down and actually helping to rescue the animals . You’re money paid for that protest. Am I missing something? As an animal lover, is that what you wanted your money to do, protest instead of protect? Think about it?!!!!!!!

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