There is nothing quite like good old grassroots action to get your point across. ‘Empty the Tanks’ demonstrations were officially launched over this past weekend (July 27, 2013) across the globe. The event was orchestrated by individual coordinators in cities all over the world, and in front of facilities that continue to hold whales and dolphins in captivity. This global protest was evidence of the crumbling support for the continuing confinement of whales and dolphins in small concrete tanks, and is a clarion call for the public display industry to finally take public sentiment to heart.
What is even more significant than the global nature of this grassroots movement is that our growing disaffection and denial of captivity has revealed a movement that has rejected the lure of this self-interested experience that has always been at the expense of the whales and dolphins in these facilities. Captive facilities have catered to and exploited our love for these animals by packaging an experience that has appealed to our natural affinity for these wonderful and intelligent animals, and a growing segment of the public is finally empowered with the facts and determination to say ‘no.’ The throngs of crowds at SeaWorld, Georgia Aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Park Hong Kong, and so many other places around the globe has revealed a changing tide in our fight against captivity.
Regardless of the continuing false justifications for captivity, whether education, research, conservation, or entertainment, WDC believes that whales and dolphins possess inherent rights to live safe and free, regardless of their ‘value’ to humankind: to enjoy their lives free from the threats of capture, entanglement, pollution, and the myriad of man-made threats to their environment that infringe upon their well-being. If you agree, please sign the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins. The captivity debate has shifted to reveal the conflict between what is in our self-interest, and what is in theirs, catalyzing the collective reprogramming of public awareness that confronts the status quo promoting the acceptability or normalcy of confining whales and dolphins in zoos and aquaria.
We have been pre-programmed to believe that it is natural to seek entertainment and an escape to a place where these animals are accessible and willing to interact with us, and where we have been told they are happy, content, and even better off than if they were in the wild. We are so accustomed to these messages generated by SeaWorld and other marine parks’ public relations machines that our perceptions and beliefs have been shaped without our active participation. But there are other, more truthful messages that are finally part of the public dialogue and are available to all of us to consider and embrace: Blackfish, The Cove, Death at SeaWorld , and A Fall From Freedom are all great places to start the collective re-education of friends and family.
WDC salutes all of you who showed up with your convictions and made your voices heard in front of captive facilities worldwide, and who continue to fight for a better world for whales and dolphins everywhere. Thank you for taking the pledge to not attend marine parks that hold whales and dolphins captive. By not buying a ticket, you have literally reduced the demand that drives so much suffering for whales and dolphins both in captivity and in the wild. Together, we can all make the difference.