"At Discovery Cove, playful bottlenose dolphins can be part of your marriage proposal, deliver a unique birthday greeting or even a congratulatory message for the special someone in your life."
Paying guests can arrange to have a dolphin serve as their personal courier, delivering a buoy with a customized message -- perhaps the most blatant example of animal exploitation found in SeaWorld's parks.
Behind this fanciful, memory-making opportunity lies a sad reality. According to the Oceanic Preservation Society, dolphins in captivity live staggeringly short lives. At SeaWorld San Antonio, the average captive dolphin lives just four years, compared to between 40 and 50 years in the wild. The psychological toll on dolphins is far more difficult to measure, but for such high-intelligent animals adapted to life in the open ocean, being forced to interact with people in artificial pools seems quite clearly damaging.
What's more, the use of dolphins for such shallow, gimmicky purposes undermines a healthy outlook on them as creatures worthy of protection from people who might take their lives -- in both the violent literal and aching figurative sense.