TheEthical Issues Related To the Mistreatment of the Animals At SeaWorld and the Way It Negatively Has Affected the Business
Therecent withdrawals of investors in SeaWorld have gone a long way inpressuring the company to abandon its activities that have rapidlyattracted criticism and opposition due to their unsatisfactoryethical standards. The recent withdrawal of SouthWest Airlines(reported in SeaWorld of Hurt) that was also a major investor in thecompany comes in the wake of increased activism and public ralliesagainst keeping the orcas.
SeaWorldhas, for 3 decades now, captured and invested in the breeding of thisspecies of whales meant for creating fun. According to Vary, thehistorical events of SeaWorld trainers falling victim to the wrath ofthe Killer whales extends back to the 1980s. Regardless of theexperience of these trainers, she notes, the wild animals turn to thenatural instincts and attack instantly killing the trainers bythrashing and drowning (Vary 3).
Animalprotection groups emphasize on ethical issues to protest against theunfair treatment of marine life. For instance, they claim thatconservation enterprises, not focused on enhancing wild populations,fail to release them to the deep waters after breeding them incaptivity. The Welfare of marine life, as is with other animals,demands that people should not only refrain from causing unnecessarypain and suffering to animals but also preserving their mental state.Although treating animals in a cruel manner especially physically istraumatizing, failing to protect their mental state to ensure theirability to fulfill their natural desires and needs is equally unfair.While marine life play a major role by serving as a crucial functionin the conservation of nature, their vulnerability to impoverishmentand captivity is eminent. Animal protection groups protest againstamong other issues, the trade of marine mammals since it affects thepopulation distributions and habitats (Rose and Farinato 5).
Animalsin captivity (out of their natural habitat) do not display theiraccurate manifestations. Instead, they are impoverished and theirmental state affected. The public display of marine life may play ahuge role in educating learners but compromising the health of theused animals is a high cost (Wade 2). For instance, the lifeexpectancy of Orcas is estimated at between 30 and 50 years of theirmaximum lifespan, which is between 60 and 70 years for the male Orcasand more than 100 years for the female orcas. This has been accountedfor by the confinement of these animals in tanks as opposed to theSeaWorld (PETA).
Thetraditional Cruelty-Kindness Ethic
Thetraditional Cruelty-Kindness Ethic states that since animal lives arenot sacred and can be utilized for human consumption or work, theydeserve treatment with kindness (Aquinas 123). Thomas Aquinas createdthis ethic in the 13th Century which has since influenced theChristian tradition to date. He observed that cruelty to animals wasrelated to arrogant behavior to each other such that on the contrary,whenever they displayed pity towards animals their compassion andfair treatment towards other humans increased.
Accordingto Calica and Dezember 2014 statistics, the end of 2013 year saw acumulative drop of 22% of shares of SeaWorld. SeaWorld reported thatthe negative impact in the business indicated a direct connection tonational media focusing on legislation in the State of California. Anamendment of policies was a common cause for concern for investors,the director explained. Since the Californian authorities are keen oninvesting the business and ascertain the impact of the action ofcapturing wild marine life for fun, the business faces seriousrepercussions as the probability of its downfall looms.
Thisdebate began after the exposure of SeaWorld’s inner secrets ofdealing with its group of captive whales popularly known as orcas.The debate that followed and spread across media houses threatenedthe future of the company consequently creating a deep concern forinvestors. The result is a persistent fall in revenue and highprobability of the occurrence of these loses. Left with desperatemeasures to take, SeaWorld resorted to cutting down expenses tomanage their loses. Savings obtained from these low expenses willboost new parks that the company owns (Calica and Dezember 4). Everyyear, at least 13 million people visit SeaWorld’s to see Shamu, afamous whale in three parks (situated in Orlando, San Diego and SanAntonio).
Protestsagainst the activities of Seaworld began after the death of DawnBrancheau due to the attack from Tilikum,whomshe trained and worked for over a decade. The danger it posed tohuman life was not an issue that thegroups that support the rights of animals and human rights foundtaken with seriousness. SeaWorld did not seem to take the death ofthe trainer seriously as it resumed shows barely a week after herdeath. Although no trainer performed tricks for the crowd in thewater, the company created an impression of normality despite theevidence of the inability to completely tame the whales. The companyfailed to prove that it can guarantee the safety of the trainers andthe public. The protests were more focused on the welfare of thewhales claiming that the captivity of such whales deprived them oftheir freedom and the right to naturally live in their environment.Keeping the whales at SeaWorld violated their animal rights andinterfered with their natural order. Such deprivation causesaggressiveness in animals and could be the cause of violent behavior.
Thekilling of Dawn of Brancheau by drowning was not the first time thesame whale killed a trainer. Earlier in 1991, another trainersuffered the same wrath of Tilikum.However,the fun goes on with replacements of trainers with the assumptionsthat the incidents are mere accidents and therefore normal. Aspeople get the exposure to the seriousness of the matter andrecognize the danger in the games, they restrain from attending theevents regardless of the fun. Most importantly, as they begin to getconvinced of the frustration the whales face outside their habitat,the attendance reduces significantly consistently (PETA).
Aquinas,Thomas. SummaTheologiae: Man Made to God`s Image,ed.Edmund Hill. London: Blackfriars, 2000. Print.
Bousfield,Barry and Richard Brown. Animal Welfare. Journalof the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, 1.4 (2010).
Caclica,M. and Dezember, R. Seaworld’s Earning Disappoint AmidAnimal-Rights Protests. Wall Street Journal p.1 2014 August 14th
PETA.(2015). 8 Reasons Orcas Don’t Belong at Sea World. SeaWorld ofHurt, 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Rose,Naomi and Richard Farinato. TheCase Against Marine Mammals in Captivity. TheHuman Society of the United States, (2006): 5-12.
Tuttle,B. (2014). Boycotts, Petitions Protests, Oh My: The Year in ConsumerOutrage. Time.Com, 1
Wade,Richard. Animal Theology and Ethical Concerns.Australian journal of theology 2,(2009): 2-13