The Daily Aztec

SeaWorld still proves to be unethical

by Jimmy Janszen, Staff Columnist

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Since CNN’s documentary Blackfish was released in 2013, SeaWorld’s stock and park attendance has plummeted. In order to bounce back from the stigma of the mistreatment of marine life, SeaWorld has planned to phase out its killer whale show at its San Diego location by 2017.

But obviously SeaWorld isn’t solely doing this for the treatment of its animals.

It’s to positively invert their profits.

SeaWorld does, however, do good things for marine life. On top of operating its three theme parks, SeaWorld helps with the rehabilitation of animals.

Its website reads, in part: “Working in partnership with state, local and federal agencies, our rescue teams are on call 24/7 assisting animals that are orphaned, ill, injured or in need of expert care. Our goal is to successfully rehabilitate animals for return to the wild.”

The rehabilitation of animals is a virtuous service SeaWorld provides, but when profit is its motive while holding marine life captive, that’s when SeaWorld is unethical.

SeaWorld’s plan to phase out its killer whale show doesn’t eliminate the captivity of the whales altogether, but plans for a larger tank without theatrics.  This is what SeaWorld is calling its Blue World Project.

According to the Blue World Project website, the aim is “advancing the global understanding of killer whales, educating and inspiring conservation efforts to protect those in the wild.”

This is a contradiction in itself because they’re not protecting “those in the wild” if they are not in the wild, but in a tank for viewing pleasure.

Over the past two years overall attendance has fallen, but millennials still make up 32 percent of all attendees, according to its president and CEO Joel Manby.

This can be partly attributed to SDSU’s Viejas Arena providing discounted SeaWorld tickets to students.

And while millennials make for a large chunk of SeaWorld’s attendance, viewers age 18-49 dominated the viewership of Blackfish when it first aired on CNN with an average of 688,000 — the most of any age group.

“I think SeaWorld’s plan to phase out the killer whale show is a good thing,” said biology freshman Chris Bourne. “But it still doesn’t make me want to go to the park. Why would I want to support a company that is obviously putting money first and animals second?”

The overall thought of millennials has leaned more toward distrust in SeaWorld, rather than accepting the way the company treats its animals. The negative press of SeaWorld peaked when “Jackass” star Steve-O was arrested in Los Angeles after he climbed a 100-foot crane with an inflatable orca whale with the words “SeaWorld Sucks” and proceeded to light fireworks from the crane. He pleaded no contest to trespassing and illegal use of fireworks, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and given three years probation.

This stunt came after his 2014 protest in San Diego where he changed a freeway sign on I-5 from “SeaWorld Drive” to “SeaWorld Sucks”.

“I think what Steve-O did was great,” theatre arts freshman Tanner Ratcliff said. “He has such a large following, so he can spread the message to people who maybe haven’t seen Blackfish.”

Whether SeaWorld’s Blue World Project will win over the minds of weary costumers, the fact that the company is still keeping orcas captive is unethical.

SeaWorld needs to stick solely to its animal rehabilitation program because it is a great service to our oceans.

But because profit is the company’s ultimate motive, SeaWorld will continue to lose the trust of millennials and like-minded individuals.

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