But the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is suspicious of IDA's roundup, issuing a statement in defense of AZA-accredited aquariums:
"The AZA rejects any list created by personal beliefs and innuendo rather than hard science and data," Kris Vehrs, interim president and CEO of AZA, said in the statement. "AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos are experts in cetacean care and species conservation, providing researchers unprecedented access to species and data, which is often impossible to gain from field research ... AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos provide guests an opportunity to see, learn about, interact with and develop a personal connection with animals they might never see in the wild, like dolphins, beluga whales and orcas."
However, the only tank on this list accredited by the AZA is Georgia Aquarium. In IDA's longer list of the 10 worst, AZA accredits just four, including SeaWorld.
Since "Blackfish," consumers are increasingly more likely to give up dolphin and whale "experiences" for the sake of the animals' welfare. There's still a long way to go in improving how people treat intelligent marine mammals like whales and dolphins.