IMATA is the world’s peak animal trainer body. Its mission statement claims animal wellbeing is a top priority, and the organisation strives to promote ‘humane care of marine animals in all habitats.’
Members of IMATA are expected to exercise ‘the highest levels of respect and humaneness for all animals’. In return they receive the benefit of engaging with other member organisations and the exchange of information and research.
Sounds good on paper. But in reality, IMATA’s statements are riddled with hypocrisy and the organisations actions reflect shocking double standards.
For example, IMATA assures us it ‘strongly opposes’ the mass slaughter of whales and dolphins that occur in drive fisheries. But at the very same time it vigorously defends IMATA members’ participation in drive hunts on the basis that they are legal in their members’ country of origin.
What is perhaps lesser known is SeaWorld’s role in this ongoing façade.
Similar to IMATA, SeaWorld has publicly stated that it does not support the Taiji drive hunts. However, SeaWorld trainers make up a large proportion of IMATA’s membership, and IMATA’s Board of Directors.
As a massive corporation with global influence and buying power, SeaWorld could use this position of power to save Taiji dolphins from unthinkable pain and suffering.
But as IMATA trainers drag screaming dolphins away from their families, SeaWorld stays silent.
As a representative body, IMATA should take action when its members engage in horrific animal abuse. Ripping innocent dolphins away from their families in the wild clearly isn’t promoting “humaneness toward marine animals”. IMATA simply cannot continue to say it promotes animal welfare in its code of trainer ethics, and sanction torture at the very same time.
A few weeks ago hundreds of caring animal advocates contacted IMATA and its headquarters at Shedd Aquarium, pleading with them to stop supporting the dolphin hunts. Now it is time for SeaWorld, a major player in IMATA’s organisation, to have that pressure applied.
Because of this action, IMATA is losing friends in the industry fast.
Now it’s time to target IMATA’s last big supporter: SeaWorld.
Since the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld has experienced an 84% drop in profits, and is at pains to avoid any more public criticism. However, SeaWorld cannot avoid the fact that ones of its best friends allows dolphins to be brutally kidnapped from the wild.
With the power of collective action and social media, your message WILL get through to IMATA.
This small action might not seem like much. But if enough people join together and pressure SeaWorld to take action, IMATA will have no choice but to get its trainers out of the bloodstained waters of the cove, and their hands off Taiji dolphins.