Recently there has been a conversation happening on various websites that somehow other zoological facilities have failed to stand up and fight, and that SeaWorld was hung out to dry by them, therefore anyone angry or upset with their decision has no right to be. I’ve seen some in the fan community take up this argument and run with it as well.
We want to put a stop to this now, because not only is it absolutely not true, it is also harmful and damaging to the zoological community at large. We need to come together and fight for what we know is right, not bicker and throw blame around.
So that everyone is clear that people and organizations were standing up and fighting the good fight, let’s take a look here at this list of times we know others stood toe to toe with the activists and made sure everyone knew SeaWorld wasn’t the bad guys. Let’s also remember as we read this list, it isn’t like SeaWorld was even standing up for themselves at this point and they sure weren’t asking others to or providing any guidance. This was all done independently of any effort by SeaWorld.
10/21/13 — Ken Ramirez (Shedd Aquarium) on CNN: “BLACKFISH” Explores Killer Whales in Captivity — http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/21/cnr.04.html
10/24/13 — Blackfish airs on CNN
- CNN Anderson Cooper Special Report, “Inside Blackfish: Killers in Captivity.”– Billy Hurley* & Jack Hanna vs Gabriela Cowperthwaite & Naomi Rose — http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/24/se.01.html (*Note: Billy Hurley left GA Aquarium in September, 2013 — so before Blackfish aired on CNN. His media appearances were as “former president of AMMPA”)
- CROSSFIRE Free the Whales or Put Them on Display? — Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo) vs Tim Zimmerman — http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1310/24/cfr.01.html
(It is our understanding that aside from these specials, Grey Stafford, Billy Hurley, & Ken Ramirez appeared multiple times on CNN news around that time period.)
2/1/14 — Academic debate on marine mammals in captivity at Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop. Billy Hurley & Sam Ridgway (National Marine Mammal Foundation) vs Naomi Rose.
3/13/14 — Radio debate on proposed CA law that would “ban orcas in captivity” — Billy Hurley vs Dave Phillips — http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201403130930
3/24/14 — On Point: An End To Performing Orcas? — Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo) vs Naomi Rose & Tim Zimmerman — http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/03/24/orcas-seaworld-blackfish-california
4/8/14 — Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo) news interview re: “Blackfish” and the proposed CA bill, etc. — http://www.azcentral.com/videos/news/local/2014/04/08/7488301/
10/21/14 — Kathleen Dezio (AMMPA) gives statement at SW San Diego Press conference in response to PETA complaint about animal care at SeaWorld — http://www.ammpa.org/doc_AMMPAresponse.html
11/8/14 — Academic debate on “cetaceans in captivity”: Special session at the 14th International Conference of the American Cetacean Society — Kelly Jaakkola (Dolphin Research Center) & Judy St. Leger (SeaWorld) vs Naomi Rose & Thomas White
2/4/15 — Kathleen Dezio (AMMPA), Rita Irwin (Dolphin Research Center), & Billy Hurley testify at Washington State senate hearing re: Washington bill (SB 5666) that would ban cetaceans from being held for entertainment purposes in Washington state
9/21/15 — news article — http://www.newsweek.com/was-blackfish-wrong-animals-captivity-good-conservation-374755 (quotes Tim Binder & Ken Ramirez, both from Shedd Aquarium)
9/30/15 — Kelly Jaakkola (Dolphin Research Center) & Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo) give special presentation at IMATA conference giving layman’s synopsis of their peer-reviewed critique of John Jett & Jeff Ventre’s recently published scientific article “Captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) survival”
- Recorded & posted online by Awesome Ocean: http://awesomeocean.com/2015/11/17/truth-squad-blackfish-scientists-get-schooled/
10/8/15 — Patrick Berry (Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park) & Kathleen Dezio (AMMPA) testify at California Coastal Commission hearing on SeaWorld’s Blue World Project
10/15/15 — AMMPA statement against CCC decision on Blue World — http://www.ammpa.org/_docs/StmtSeaWorldCCCDecision.pdf (note: AMMPA statements of course get quoted in media stories)
11/6/15 — AMMPA statement opposing Schiff’s ORCA act to phase out orcas in human care — http://www.ammpa.org/_docs/STMTSchifforcabill.pdf (note: AMMPA statements of course get quoted in media stories)
11/9/15 & 11/10/15 Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo) does multiple news interviews re: SWSD announcement that they’re moving away from “theatrical” killer whale shows. (Note that SW was NOT fielding interview calls for this!) E.g.:
- http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2015/11/10/45173/seaworld-san-diego-to-end-killer-whales-show-but-c/ (Grey vs Naomi Rose)
3/11/16 — Official scientific rebuttal to John Jett & Jeff Ventre’s article “Captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) survival” published online (accepted for publication ~6 months earlier). Authors are Todd Robeck (SeaWorld), Kelly Jaakkola (Dolphin Research Center), Grey Stafford (World Wildlife Zoo), & Kevin Willis (Minnesota Zoo) — http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mms.12278/abstract
Facilities directly denouncing Blackfish on their websites –
- Dolphin Research Center — https://www.dolphins.org/hot_topics (2 topics: (1) About Blackfish & (2) When “Scientific Objectivity” isn’t)
- Shedd Aquarium — http://www.sheddaquarium.org/blog/2013/10/A-note-from-Ken-Ramirez/
- Dolphinquest — https://dolphinquest.com/hot-topics/#blackfish
And of course what this list doesn’t include is:
- The people at various facilities who stand up for SeaWorld & square off against activists on social media
- EVERY DAY at DRC & other facilities, when trainers and educators field comments like: “You guys are awesome; so different than SeaWorld” — by saying “Actually, let’s talk about that…”
This is not a comprehensive list; we realize there are probably other times when various zoological facilities and professionals stood up for SeaWorld that we’re probably not listing here and for that, we apologize. If we missed you, please let us know and we’ll include you in the list.
This should put stop to this silly and damaging conversation of, “no one stood up for us” because it just isn’t so. Let’s all stop and take a look around at what we need to do next and stop with all the negativity and blame. It isn’t necessary and frankly distracts from the important issues we need to be focusing on.