Australian company set to expand SeaWorld and strengthen demand for drive hunts

Jan 30, 2015 by afdadmin
15 Comments

– By Genevieve Wauchope

Advocates campaigning for better welfare for whales and dolphins have been happily watching the ‘Blackfish effect’ spill over SeaWorld like so much stolen Orca milk. Despite all the negative publicity, the multi-national conglomerate still hasn’t really got the message. Even as their share price plummets, ticket sales fall, and their CEO quits, SeaWorld has failed to understand that keeping intelligent marine mammals in tanks is really not ok. After all, a tank is not the ocean, no matter which way SeaWorld wants to spin it.

In a sneaky move half way through last year, SeaWorld teamed up with Village Roadshow (an Australian company) to expand their business operations into Asia. On Wednesday August 13th, SeaWorld held their quarterly call for investors around the world, letting it be known, not particularly widely, that they will be working with Village Roadshow to open SeaWorld Parks in China, Russia, India and Pan-Asia.

shamu_Seaworld_2013

This is particularly unsettling. Russia has started catching wild Orcas for the park trade again. There’s nothing to stop future captures from ending up in SeaWorld facilities.

Dolphins such as those captured using horrifically cruel methods in Taiji are likely to end up in the new parks in Asia. Many Taiji dolphins, and most of the orcas captured off the coast of Russia, have already been transported to China.

With so many marine parks already operating in the region, does it matter if SeaWorld & Village Roadshow get in on the act? The answer is an emphatic ‘yes’.

The drive hunts in Taiji are extremely lucrative, and dolphins sold into captivity from the hunts are worth far more than those sold for meat or fertiliser. The dolphin hunting ‘industry’ exists only because of demand, and SeaWorld, with Village Roadshow, is increasing that demand.

BMDOLPHIN2

Erich Hoyt, who established the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) with Russian scientist Alexander Burdin and Japanese researcher Hal Sato with the intention of studying orcas off the coast of Russia argues, “A lot depends on how many people per year pay to get into Sea World in the US, as well as paying to get into the growing number of such facilities in China, Japan and Russia. By last count, more than 120 facilities in these countries exhibit whales and/or dolphins. If there is no demand from the owners of these facilities and from the paying public, the selling price will go down and eventually there may be little or no supply offered for sale. Then the orca trafficking can stop.”

The same is true for dolphins. And whilst in Australia capture of animals from the wild has not been permitted since 1994, in other parts of Asia there are no such protections in place. There is nothing to stop SeaWorld joining existing parks to fund the drive hunts, take distressed animals from their families, and keep them in captivity in countries that have so far done little or nothing to ensure even basic welfare needs are met.

dolphin in small dirty tank

SeaWorld’s plans to move into Asia show that it is far more concerned with profit than the animals in its care. This has long been obvious to those documenting the impacts of using intelligent, social animals for entertainment party tricks. As other aquariums in the US retire their dolphins, understanding that forcing them to do tricks for dead fish leaves more people uncomfortable than overjoyed, SeaWorld forges ahead with their archaic amusement park model, maintaining that they have the best interests of their animals at heart.

Rather than change their failing operational prototype, SeaWorld is instead replicating it in countries that have not yet implemented animal welfare laws, where such laws are weak, or where they are not adequately enforced.  Whilst the company has been prevented from importing dolphins from Taiji to the United States and Australia, its behaviour so far leaves little doubt the marine park chain will have no such qualms in countries where live capture is allowed.

There have long been calls for people to help prevent the slaughter in Taiji by not buying tickets to SeaWorld or other ‘seaquariums’. Perhaps it’s time Australians got in on the act by not buying tickets to parks run by Village Roadshow. Tickets to SeaWorld on the Gold Coast may not fund the wild capture of orcas or dolphins directly, but that money is now going to the same organisations that are establishing new dolphinariums that most certainly will.

Taiji capture

  • Julie Parker

    Sounds like a new campaign is needed, boycott Village Roadshow. We can’t let this happen

  • Jo Jackson

    This makes me so incredibly angry, do people who visit these marine parks not realise where these beautiful creatures come from and how they come to be stuck in a concrete prison taught to do tricks for their very amusement. How in this day and age are places like sea world still existing and how are slaughters like Taji and the Faroe Island still happening. It breaks my heart because it seems all the campaigning in the world can’t change it :'(

  • Trish Connors

    Great blog well written, very informative…..We have got to keep informing and educating others. Please share this blog and continue to get others to watch movies like Blackfish and The Cove, Captivity is cruel.

  • Bryan Craig

    The world is going to hell and were the main cause. Bravo humans.

  • Marietta W.A.

    SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

  • marianne

    Can’t believe the arrogance of this group – wanting to build more prisons for our cetaceans….And India has banned all dolphin captivity so what’s going on. We certainly do need to up the pressure and the campaign. Share the article with everyone we can.

  • marianne

    Marine mammals are the only zoo animals that have to perform for their food. Your business Sea World Gold Coast is not of a zoo; it is a circus. There is nothing natural about an orca or dolphin being ridden by a human trainer or launching a trainer into the air or indeed jumping over obstacles. Seeing their open mouths is pathetic and unnatural as it is a begging behavior to get more food. As biologist Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute says: “The fish are in the water; they don’t rain down from the sky.” These unnatural performances actually teach our children dominance over these majestic mammals. You argue that ‘your’ dolphins like doing tricks, well then why must you reward them with fish each time?? If this is not classic conditioning………As for education, parents think you are teaching them but I ask,what in heavens can one learn by watching these sentient beings perform in a man made environment when ocean tours take humans out into the mammals environment where natural behaviors abound and on all the tours I have undertaken have left the paying public in awe and deeply touched in places which you and your staff are clearly lacking in. As for your breeding program, well Mr. Trevor Long tells me that 76% of your captives are not wild caught. That leaves almost a quarter who have been ripped from their ocean homes and families, never to experience the freedom that our vast oceans offer. Rather they are artificially inseminated with no choice as to their partner-stripped of their independence and raped. I’m sure this does little to conserve the species but rather produces multiple generations of a limited group of species. Ten out of ten for these pearls of wisdom Mr. Long. As for returning them to the wild, this is a conversation that I am inviting you Mr. Long to have on the ABC radio-anytime. Many dolphins and one orca (Keiko) have been successfully returned to their ocean habitat-some are still there and thriving. It really should be a question that burns into your moral compass every day you walk past the bobbing heads of your captives. You can continue to work and live in denial, or you can look deep into your own consciousness and see how you can run your business ethically, morally and with the integrity to insist on these mammals’ freedom. Your business plan can be redrafted to include an educational program that trains dolphins to return to the wild-albeit very gradually- and humans to appreciate that we are not the rulers of the world but merely another species who need to learn how to co-inhabit with others. And finally, Keiko died in FREEDOM not captivity. By helping Keiko, scientists were able to give back to humanity, to future generation and to nature itself, what it took for granted for the many years that he was held captive. Never before has the bounty of the ocean been so at risk. We are still not fully comprehending the consequences of our actions. But Keiko forced some of us to actually consider our impact on the animal kingdom. Our greatest tribute to Keiko, our master ambassador of the wild, would be if the children of the world view the ocean with greater respect and that they know not only to protect what we love, but to prevent what we cannot fix. So tell me now, how seriously do you really take yourselves???

    • Snezana Trkulja

      Brilliant post

      • marianne

        Thank you Snezana. Hopefully many more will read our collective posts and spread our information to put a stop to all the madness…..

  • Stephen Kambouridis

    When people, and I mean the world in general not those of us who feel the pain of fellow creatures, begin to realise that wildness and wild creatures are the counterpoint to our sense of who we are as travellers, these disgusting displays will become an anachronism. It is up to those of us that care to share and share, educate where we can and keep up the pressure on corporations that see only profit.

  • cewing2301

    the sign said it all SeaWorld SUCKS . proof they do NOT care about the animals ONLY the money. wake up ticket buyers, the lie is out, they still are involved with WILD orca and dolphin captures

  • Anne

    Boycott every business link to this cold hearted SeaWorld which is beyond shameless. SeaWorld is morally reprehensible. The documentary “The Cove” should be shown in Australia to educate people about the truth behind these captive victims!

  • John Zolis

    boycott village roadshow pictures and subsidiaries

  • Anonymous

    Horrific, these practises belong to te dark Middle Ages, not in today’s world. We need to continue to share the information, make people aware if they pay for a ticket, they pay for animal cruelty. I am sure a lot of people, once they realize what is going on, will stop visiting those places, and will take their families to locations where they can watch these beautiful mammals living and swimming free, in their own habitats where they belong. Captivity is wrong, cruel and immoral.

  • Debbie Riddle

    Never been, never want to.