Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Debate

Since I was a little girl, I have been in awe of orcas. I don't like calling them killer whales. I was interested in them before they were chic. When I was young, I saw nothing wrong with Sea World having orcas in their shows. Children and young adults, in the late 70's and early 80's, were much more innocent than the children and young adults of today. Today, information is at fingertips.Truth often crushes the rose colored glasses.

The horrible incident at Sea World, Orlando, last week, touched me. Made me think again about using wild animals in shows, for human entertainment. Educational? I can't quite buy that one anymore, not at the price of human lives, and the lives of the animals.

What are we really doing? Conservation? I don't think so. I can't buy that argument anymore either.

Upon hearing about the tragedy, I was sad for Dawn, but I was also sad for Tilikum. I don't fault either one. It was a tragic accident no matter how you try to turn it. I have personally decided orcas should not be used in shows for the entertainment of humans. I know it won't end, I'm a realist. 

I have been relieved at Sea World's decision to keep Tilikum, though I realize that decision comes down to dollars, not necessarily sense. He's their prize stud having produced thirteen offspring making his services highly valuable. He's been in captivity for something like 25 years. What else are they going to do with him? Sea World is sort of between a rock and a hard place with this one.

As when working around your own horses, you learn their behaviors.You learn to pay attention. You learn what bugs them and what they don't ever pay attention to. When working with horses, you learn to know their body language and what kind of mood they're in. I personally don't believe there is such a thing as a bombproof horse. There is a button for every horse. Something that will cause him to surprise you when you least expect it. It's really inevitable. It's just the way they're programmed. It's not about being on edge around them, it's about being observant. 

Unfortunately, we're human, we're emotional, and we have a tendency to probably relax when we trust. I don't believe Dawn did anything wrong, but then I wasn't there. I'm only forming an opinion on the interviews I've seen and the articles I've read about the incident. I believe, it was one moment in time, when Dawn trusted and let her guard down. 

Sure, orcas are different from horses. Orcas are predators. They have the ability to kill with a giant mouth, strong jaw and lots of sharp teeth. On the other side of the coin, how many people are killed by horses every year?  And what is the main reason? I don't have statistics, but I'm thinking, it just happens.

As humans, we're the ones who choose to interact with animals, both wild and domestic. We're the ones responsible for most outcomes, good and bad. But sometimes, it just happens.

1 comment:

Linda said...

This is an interesting topic, and one I've thought about, too. I don't think they should have ever been allowed to bring them in from the wild, but now, the ones in captivity shouldn't be set free--in my opinion. Keiko, who I went to see in Oregon before he was shipped to Norway, died of pneumonia wanting to be near people. Wild pods don't adopt them. It's not fair to put them in the ocean alone--it's a death sentence for them--like letting domestic horses free in the wilderness. So, it's a sad problem, but I tend toward letting them be now that they're already domesticated. And, I feel bad for Dawn, but I do think she died doing what she loved--and that counts for something. :)