Last November, I climbed over a barricade at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and held a "Boycott SeaWorld" sign in front of the theme park's float before police hustled me off. A few weeks later, I was arrested for protesting SeaWorld's float in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.
A ton has happened since then, and none of it is good for SeaWorld. Visitors continue to stay away after watching the hard-hitting documentary Blackfish. SeaWorld's stock has nosedived and its shareholders have actually filed a lawsuit against the company. Businesses that once partnered with the theme park, like Taco Bell and Southwest Airlines, are jumping ship. I won't be arrested in Pasadena this year because I'm sure SeaWorld doesn't want a repeat of the bad publicity it got there last year and won't have a float in the Rose Parade.
Is SeaWorld finally starting to "get it"? Because just about everyone else is. People are recognizing that it's not alright to keep ocean animals in cramped, barren tanks. More and more are refusing to support SeaWorld's cruel circus-style spectacle.
I couldn't imagine being separated from my mom and put in a cement box so people could pay to gawk and point and laugh at me, but that's what SeaWorld does when it snatches baby orcas and dolphins from their mothers. In the wild, orcas and dolphin families stay together. Just like all families, they have their own routines, they help one another and communicate in their own unique way. So imagine how these smart and sensitive animals must feel when they are torn from their brothers, sisters and cousins and caged alone or with "strangers." The tanks at SeaWorld, which are barely deeper than the length of an orca's body, make it impossible for them to act or feel like themselves. They are meant to swim up to 100 miles everyday and dive up to 1,000 feet! Is it any wonder that so many of SeaWorld's captives become frustrated and enraged? Wouldn't you feel the same way if you were kidnapped, imprisoned in a tiny fishbowl and forced to perform demeaning and unnatural tricks on command?
SeaWorld seems to be operating on the delusion that young people can't see right through the marketing hype. My friends and I care about animals, so we know that what SeaWorld does is wrong. Some of my classmates and I started an animal-rights club to spread the word about Blackfish and other issues. We know that every single performing orca at SeaWorld is called "Shamu" as if these individuals are interchangeable robots. Dolphins want to live their lives as nature intended; they don't want to be petted and kissed.
SeaWorld exists to make money, and animals and employees who suffer and die appear to be an afterthought. SeaWorld can never make up for the harm that it has done. The only thing it can do know is to immediately stop breeding animals and release the animals it has to seaside sanctuaries where they can have some comfort and meaning in their lives.
People ask me what I'm planning next. Let's just say that a family event like Macy's Thanksgiving parade is the last place where we should celebrate a corporation that rips families apart and I'll be there again with my protest sign.