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Facing the Facts about SeaWorld: Point and Counter-Point

Con: Abusement Park

With the announcement of PLNU’s Fall Ball set for Nov. 3 at SeaWorld, many students have jumped at the chance of attending essentially an amusement park for the low cost of 10 dollars. When did SeaWorld, a place that was supposed be an animal haven, become just another form of Americanized entertainment?

Many articles have been printed regarding SeaWorld’s mistreatment of animals, especially in the last few years. With this in mind, I believe that we should not continue to support such an organization–certainly not as a school, nor in our individual lives.

Despite popular ideas that everyone has boycotted the park, there has been only about a two percent drop in attendance with about 22 million patrons attending annually. With pressure from the media, SeaWorld has ended their breeding programs and changed the way theatrical shows are put on.

However, SeaWorld is still holding orcas and other animals in enclosed areas. Orcas are not domesticated animals and not meant to be held in a glass tank. According to SeaWorld’s tank dimensions, the average pool is only 170 feet long and 35 feet deep. On average, one orca pod swims around 100 miles every day.

Imagine being stuck in something so small that you could see the other side of your tank. We would never wish this type of cruelty on humans, so why is this okay to do to another animal? If this does not make you want to jump into action, how about this–the average lifespan for an orca in the wild is somewhere between 30 to 50 years with a maximum of 100. In captivity, that median age drops to nine!

In 2012, the USDA found that SeaWorld San Antonio did not properly cover their drains, which can lead to animal entrapment. While they were issued an official warning, a sea lion did die as a result of this. Violations and warnings have been issued to SeaWorld corporations from the Animal Welfare Act, PETA, and USDA, however there have not been many changes.

According to an article produced by SeaWorld of Hurt, “About PETA’s Campaign Against SeaWorld,” SeaWorld spends only around three percent of its profits on conservation. For an organization that is supposed to be animal friendly, it does not seem to care much about following federal procedures or socializing their animals, either. Orcas are extremely social animals and within the care of SeaWorld, many of these creatures are left to swim endless circles in a concrete tank without their mothers or any other orca to socialize with.

Just think about humans never having the opportunity to visit with any other creature and live in captivity for the rest of their lives. We wouldn’t want it. So why should we allow this sort of treatment for intelligent animals such as orcas?

It was not until SeaWorld started getting bad press that CEO Joel Manby stated that, “As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it.” SeaWorld should have never started encaging animals in the first place and we should have realized even back then that encaging animals is inhumane. So think twice before you head off to Fall Ball and continue to support SeaWorld franchises.

Brooke Serrano is a junior majoring in social work.

Pro: San Diego Needs SeaWorld

It was February of 2014 when I watched the documentary Blackfish for the first time. If I’m being honest, I was pretty disgusted by what I saw. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, a place where Native American history is rich. One thing that you cannot get away from is these tribal depictions of animals, specifically orcas. So, when I saw the footage of a pod of orcas being caught in Puget Sound, it hurt a little more than normal.

That being said, San Diego needs SeaWorld. San Diego’s economy is fueled by tourism, and is in deep waters financially. There was a great article in March of 2017 by David Garrick, a journalist who covers policy in the greater San Diego area, which explains the city’s financial standing. These financial problems stem from miscalculations in the pensions of government employees.

Starting in the late 1990s and continuing into the early 2000s, the city of San Diego underfunded the pensions. That, mixed with the financial crisis of 2008 and employees outliving lifespan estimates, has created a perfect storm. When balancing the city’s budget to make up for years of neglect of the pension funds, other areas are then affected. Ever wonder why San Diego has some of the worst streets in the state of California?

The backlash that SeaWorld received from the documentary Blackfish was not only warranted, but I would argue that it was needed. It is nice to have consumers keep large corporations and organizations in check and that is what makes America so awesome.

SeaWorld was initially resistant to make any changes to its operations when consumers started to make a fuss, but the persistence of the protesters forced SeaWorld to play its hand. After years of running ads displaying the good that they do, they had to fix the bad. In late 2015, SeaWorld announce the end of its orca shows. Nearly four months later, in March of 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would stop breeding orcas in captivity.

The most frustrating thing about politics is trying to balance social and economic problems. When you solve a social problem, an economic one might arise and vice versa. I believe that we have reached a great point to find that balance with SeaWorld. A drastic change has been made before financial instability occurred and it would be dangerous to push SeaWorld any more. A financial collapse of SeaWorld would dig the city of San Diego into an even deeper pit.

SeaWorld has made the changes that we have asked from them. When PLNU has their Fall Ball at SeaWorld on Nov. 3, have a blast. Observe the sea creatures that they have throughout the park, spend some time with friends, and feel good about it.

Cole Curry is a sophomore majoring in political science.


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The Point Staff

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