SeaWorld's annual meeting took place this week online to avoid controversy.
Good luck. As long as SeaWorld continuously dodges the concerns of people worried about its captive animals, like orcas and dolphins who express unhealthy behaviors and experience shorter life spans in holding tanks, controversy will be ever-present.
At Wednesday's meeting, CEO Joel Manby made the controversial claim that SeaWorld's captive orcas, who live in tanks that feel for them like the size of small swimming pool, would die if released to sea pens. Sea pens are sectioned-off wildlife refuges in the ocean.
But SeaWorld, which was originally conceived of as an underwater restaurant, is just wrong. It is possible to keep orcas in the natural waters sea pens offer, a marine animal expert told the New York Post. The expert is Jean-Michel Cousteau, who has trained captive marine mammals to be successfully released back into the wild, including Keiko of "Free Willy" fame, and dolphins who were kept in a swimming pool for years.
Even if SeaWorld is actually concerned about the inability of its orcas to cope with the natural water they've never touched, at the very least, SeaWorld could promise to stop breeding the orcas they think are incapable of living in the wild. Among other problems, SeaWorld's breeding program results in mother-son incest.
"The problem I have with SeaWorld is they are looking for all kinds of excuses to keep doing what they are doing," Cousteau said.