The SeaWorld Debate
I've been thinking about animals in captivity lately, and yeah, you can blame it on Blackfish. I didn't actually see the documentary until about a month ago, but I did watch the trailer when it was released last July. It was enough to make me stop and think.
And here's what: I can't decide who's telling the truth. (Isn't that how it often is?) It's likely there are truths on both sides, but even if that's the case, I have to make a decision. Do I continue to visit SeaWorld, zoos, and other places where animals live in captivity?* It might not seem like a big deal now, but one day, I might have kids and they might want to go to the zoo. Even now, I live in a city with a SeaWorld, and that's one of the first places visitors want to go. (I've been twice now.)
The biggest benefit I see with zoos and aquariums is that they excite the mind of a child, and seeing God's creations up close stirs the soul and fills the mind with wonder. There's no denying that. But is it enough to justify animals in captivity?
Perhaps that's not the right question. Maybe the question is, "How can we create better habitats for captivity?" Or "Should this particular animal be captive?" I obviously don't know the answer to that (and desperately want to have a long chat with a marine biologist), but here's some food for thought: Jeremy saw killer whales in the wild, just off the Alaskan coast. He's told me about it twice now, and each time, he practically gushes. (Jeremy doesn't gush.) He's even spent about ten minutes showing me picture after picture of the whales he saw. (Jeremy doesn't talk about things that don't mean much to him.)
What's my point? It's that maybe wild animals are meant to be seen in the wild. Sure, it may be expensive, and that may mean most of us will never see some of God's creations up close. But maybe that's okay? Maybe that's why National Geographic exists -- to let explorers visit animals in their natural environments and then tell us about it.
I don't know. I just don't know. I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on this, though, especially if you're a marine biologist or zoologist. Please, leave comments! (And if you are a biologist or zoologist, leave your contact information!)
*I'm conflicted about zoos recently because I question the captivity of elephants, my favorite animal on earth. Recent studies have shown that elephants in captivity develop physical and mental disorders, and because they are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet, it's really quite depressing to think about. (Source: The Science is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized.)
Thing I'm thankful for: walks with dad