Sunday, October 11, 2015

"Kill Yourself You Idiot" and Other Sage Words From Morons

On Thursday night, someone told my friend and coworker, Shannon to go kill herself.

Why, do you ask?

I don't know, really.  The person who suggested she commit suicide has never met Shannon.  The only thing he knows about her is that she wrote a comment on some biased Buzzfeed article, and from that he gleaned that it would just be better if she offed herself.


And this is the problem with the world today.

First of all, Shannon is okay with this whole thing.  She has thick skin and doesn't let these kinds of comments get to her.  

Wow, presumptuous much?

Second, she is one of the sweetest, funniest, wittiest people I've ever known.  She has dedicated her life to a dog she adopted from a kill-shelter.  She is one of the people I rely on as a supervisor to usher one of our gentle, but very nervous sea lions through any changes.  She has an unending passion for the well-being of animals.  This girl never settles for status quo, either.  Not for the animals she cares for at home, nor the ones at our job.  And this generosity and love extends to humans, too.  When I was going through a particularly rough time, she sneakily left me this insanely awesome care package (it involved the It Follows DVD and a lot of Reese's Pieces) and she can make anybody laugh.  Shannon is a genuinely good person.

Her amazing dog she rescued from the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

Third, the person I've just described is among a lot of people I have known and worked with who have gigantic hearts and put their money where their mouth is when it comes to caring for others, human or non-human.  And the person I've just described is not the only person to be the victim of callous, even evil cyber-harassment.  Not by a long shot.

So what did Shannon do to solicit someone to say such a heinous thing?

Because she wrote a factual reply to a Buzzfeed article discussing the California Coastal Commission decision to allow Sea World San Diego to expand its orca habitat (like, state-of-the-art exhibit) but under the stipulations that they are not allowed to breed or transport any of the orcas.  Here's what she wrote:

Everything she wrote here is factually correct.  That doesn't mean you have to agree with her; you can still have your own opinions about this topic.  Rejecting facts is not an actual method of supporting your own contentions on a topic.

Of course, comments abounded with the typical misinformed and emotionally-feuled internet warriors who heralded this decision as the beginning of the end of SeaWorld.   So while they expressed their opinion via the medium of Internet, Shannon chose to do the same and share her many years of knowledge of actually like, being IN the industry they're criticizing.  And for that, she received this:

I especially like the philosopher's comment on the top left.

Normally, I try to take an understanding viewpoint, especially on this topic.  So let me first say that those of you who read this blog who do not agree with cetaceans in human care but who are rational, educated, and emotionally intelligent human beings who get out in the world and do good work for animals in need, this blog is not addressed to you.  We may have fundamentally different opinions, but none of you would ever say or do anything I'm discussing in this blog.  And I would say the same thing to anyone on "my side" who did this to "your side".

But for the rest of you who get your information from Buzzfeed and Netflix, here are some real-world truths you should accept.

You're Embarrassingly Unoriginal

I mean, aliens are coming to Earth.  Did you SEE Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Congratulations.  You're like every other immature fool who believes everything they see on a 90 minute documentary.  No intelligent person, regardless of their opinion on any topic, would be caught dead admitting that their information came from a f***ing documentary.  No educated person develops an opinion on a topic based on biased information (including their own bias).  

Also, your weird attraction to a good conspiracy theory is annoying.  Just because someone supports a view opposing yours (especially if that person happens to be an expert in the topic about which you are discussing) doesn't automatically make them liars, or recipients of sums of money for their support, or brain-washed. Seriously, the rest of us smart people all outgrew that world view when we were 16.  

Also, for God's sake please stop responding to every counter-argument with "have you seen Blackfish/The Cove?".  Unless of course, you are in the habit of telling every expert in all fields they should watch a movie about their profession, then I guess you get points for being consistent (but -72987598235 points for not actually using your brain). 

You're Hurting Your Own Cause

Try being a nice person.  It's fun.

Do you even know what your cause is?  At present, it appears as though it involves a lot of trolling (an action that requires approximately zero skills) and coming up with the most heinous insults to hurl at other human beings.  If your cause involves changing people's minds about your opinion, here's a fact that's important for you to accept: no one likes mean people.  Like no one.  And armchair activists who make 7 million comments on an entertainment site are not really making the rest of their "cause" look very intelligent.  Of the friends of mine who are animal right's activists, they are completely mortified by your behavior.  

You Have Made No Impact Where It Matters

Your ridiculously ignorant commentary saved not a single pilot whale in Denmark.

Because the people who share your general view point about cetaceans in zoos and aquariums who are actually out doing beach clean ups, or volunteering to care for UME pups, or trying to stop the drive slaughters in Japan, they don't have time to surf the internet and tell people to kill themselves, or that they're part of some massive secret marine mammal trainer club that abuses orcas and lies to the general public about everything.  

Not a single comment you post on the internet has saved a single animal. Not one.  Tell yourself that the next time you look in the mirror.  Don't you have a dog or a cat or someone who could benefit from the time you're spending being heartless to complete strangers, some of whom actually know what they're talking about? 

I Would Never Let You Near An Animal If You Are Really As Mean IRL As You Are On Facebook

For realz

Seriously? Are we, the marine mammal care industry supposed to hand over our facilities and the animals we care for to you, the people who are telling us to kill ourselves?  Uh, what.  I don't think so.  If I ever considered having you people build a so-called sanctuary for the animals you know absolutely NOTHING about, then I'd deserve to be charged with felony animal cruelty.   

What do you guys do after you post this ridiculous crap?  Do you feel really good about yourselves, because you just love to punish a total stranger?  Do you actually think that you, with 90 minutes of a documentary under your belt, are an expert in this topic?  Seriously?? Are you like that person who tells doctors that their diagnosis is wrong because, unlike their years and years of medical school and real-world experience, you spent 20 minutes reading bullet points on WebMD?

Or watched a documentary (or TWO, even)

Personally, I have nothing to hide after 10 years of being in this field.  I have never lied to a person who's asked me about the marine mammal training field in the United States.  I don't believe in that.  I take my job very seriously, not just for the animals I'm privileged to care for and know, but for the bigger picture impact it has on animals in the wild.  

I'd like to invite all the unoriginal, obnoxious, socially unintelligent human beings of the internet realm to go to a marine mammal stranding event, when they have to look into the eyes of a perfectly healthy baby dolphin who is being euthanized because some feel it's better they're dead than in a zoo.  Yeah, that happens.

Or spend a month working alongside marine mammal trainers to see what the job is actually like, including what horrific things guests tend to say to us (so you realize that most people don't care one bit about animals or the environment).  I'd also like it if you'd come say to our faces all the stupid stuff you slather all over the internet.  Are you really that brave?  

I can't imagine a single scenario where I'd say, even jokingly, to someone "go kill yourself".  The good news is, you're just a bunch of cowards who give the impression of having no heart.  So let's look at the final numbers here:

Number of Orcas You've Helped: 0

Wow, looks like all that time on the interwebz really paid off.  I bet all animals everywhere are so grateful you're out there, being jerks.

Do some research, and not just the ones that support your opinion.  Maybe start with learning how to form a good argument.  Vet your sources, and if you aren't sure that what you're reading or hearing is unbiased, then canvas both sides of the topic.  For example, you guys have a lot of information saying how awful cetaceans lives are in captivity.  I'm telling you, from the bottom of my heart, that most of that information is factually incorrect.  It's not a conspiracy, I get paid nothing for my views or this blog, and I actually work with these animals year-round.  I have no reason to lie to you, because lying is WRONG and eventually the truth comes how does that help animals if I distract from something that could help them?  

Or, if you think I'm full of crap, that's okay, too.  But lay off the holier-than-thou, awful commentary that does nothing but stroke your ego for ten seconds while you house an entire bag of Doritos and binge watch Whine About It Wednesdays*.  Go live your life and do something nice for someone.

* Stick with that kind of content instead of commenting on issues you know nothing about, Buzzfeed.  Seriously.


  1. You sir, deserve a round of applause! Thank you for posting the facts, because there are many who preach about Blackfish as being factual; and it makes me sick that people believe a 90 minute documentary without researching the topic first

    1. Thanks!! Documentaries based on facts these days are hard to find. That's why I just stick with Arrested Development

  2. I am one of those who do not agree with keeping any cetacean in human captivity but I am constantly appalled by people who threaten and are rude to others. To those people I say yes we may not have the same opinion but as rational adults we can agree to disagree based on sensible arguments. Sadly rational adults seem to be in short supply these days.

    1. I think you're right about the seemingly dwindling number of rational people. But it's refreshing and encouraging to read your comment! There is so much more positive change to accomplish and that'll only happen if people can work together and not be crappy to each other.

    2. yep you are very right we are now breeding humans that have no common sense period. I wonder why these people instead of help marine animals don't as she said they are still killing whales in Japan and Denmark. The person about the dogs about adopting them where do you thing quite a few of them come from they steal them from overseas and ship them to the US and they do not have certificates of health and they bring new virus to the dog population in the US there has already been outbreaks, so leave the dog breeders alone and quit pushing your ideals on to other people that have more common sense than you people that sit at your computers and think you know every thing when you don't know nothing about the real world.

  3. Unfortunately, social media has become a forum for mean people to spread their venom about anything and everything. There are a lot of angry people in this world who might feel so much better, about life and themselves, if they did volunteer work or in some other way gave back to the world. I volunteer at a marine animal hospital/aquarium and see firsthand how dedicated the people there are to the animals and how much they love them. Don't let the meanies make you crazy. They're not worth it.

    1. You're totally right, Annette. I just hope ONE person who has ever commented horrible things reads this and realizes there's a better way to express an opinion

  4. This is great. Despite the vastly differing opinions on the subject, I have never understood why people reduce themselves to name calling and threats. That's generally how I know I've "won" the argument, because they have nothing intelligent to say.

  5. It amazes me that those who spew the venomous comments don't understand how doing so reduces the strength of any of their arguments. It's bad enough that they can't cite facts. Being hatemongers obliterates any legitimacy they might have been able to achieve. Cat, as always, your blog is brilliant. I'm sorry your friend, as well as friends and colleagues that we have at our facilities and around the world, are subject to these comments. No matter how thick-skinned we are, they are tough to hear and read.

  6. A survey of supporters of animal rights revealed that they like Justin Bieber and do not work full time among other things that indicate they are 15 years old or so. They don't understand the use of their anonymity on the internet and they probably believe what they say....this week.

  7. I agree that social media has made monsters out of us. I also admit I've gotten a bit braver about posting replies to comments that lack knowledge or fact behind them. Yesterday, someone posted a short video featuring a walrus doing dance moves to Michael Jackson's "Black or White" and so many commenters were saying how the walrus was tortured, starved, and abused to get him to perform. I couldn't help it, I responded to several of them asking them if they tortured, starved, or abused their pets to get them to do things. And if they didn't, why on earth would they make such a giant leap that a paid professional that works closely with each animal in his or her care would need to use those methods to train an animal? Another commented asking "How do you think they trained that walrus?" And I had to reply "How DO you think they trained that walrus?" and then proceeded to give as short of an explanation of operant conditioning through positive reinforcement as was humanly possible (it's not possible for an animal behaviorist to give a short descirption of operant conditioning, btw).
    But, as awesome as this post is, I do feel it's important to point out that it's not just the Animal Rights people I have seen be cruel and inappropriate on forums. Again, hiding behind the computer screen makes us all braver than we really are, and some of us meaner than we really are. I've heard pro-zoo folks profess that PETA supporters should die, be castrated, fed to animals, and other inappropriate suggestions that do our cause no good, either. So, I take this post as a warning to everyone, but especially animal care professionals. Kill them with kindness, folks.
    When I worked with elephants, we had a VERY strong and active animal rights group that would sometimes try to get information out of us by asking seemingly benign questions, or even asking rude outlandish questions in front of other visitors. I wouldn't play their game. If I spoke the truth, they would either twist it or scoff at it as a line that we tell visitors to make ourselves feel better. So, instead, I started answering EVERY question they asked the same exact way: "I'm sorry, I can;t help you, but thank you so much for supporting our elephant program here at our Zoo." It pissed them off so much, for many reasons. They couldn't get me riled up. They couldn't get a sound bite. And I was right. By visiting the zoo, either as a member or paid guest, they were supporting our elephant program. They stopped bothering me very shortly after I incorporated my uniform response.
    Kill them with kindness. Show by example how great zookeepers are. If we treat our "enemies" with such compassion and dignity, then how must we treat the animals we claim to love?
    Just my two cents.

  8. Zoos actually help scientists and marine mammal experts save animals in the wild. Because of the amazing research that takes place in these facilities. I'm so sick of people saying release animals back into the wild. What's happened to Keiko (free willy)? He died shortly after being released. Yes unfortunately most successful zoos are run like a business and employers are only in it for the money but I can tell you the trainers are there to give those animals the best possible life and to educate people about how they can help our environment. It is unfortunate that the only way to inspire people is through entertainment.

  9. I am someone who cannot accept that Dolphins and Whales have to be in captivity! I do not agree with what happened to your friend Cat! Common sense is NOT that common these days unfortunatley! If the best argument you have for a cause you believe in is " go kill yourself " then forget it, go back to bed! Personally I prefer to do some research before forming an opinion and I too find it difficult to know what to believe! Thankyou for acknowledging it happens on both sides. Only yesterday I witnessed a ex trainer at a park in Australia hurl some wicked abuse at a lady who only showed him respect and answered all his questions in a reasonable and intelligent way. He made threats against her kids and ended up being reported to the police! You say you have always answered questions honestly so I have some if thats ok?
    My research tells me that some dolphins can swim up to 100 miles a day in the ocean and are capable of hunting for their own food. They live their lives similar to humans and some experts believe they are more intelligent than humans! How can you justify keeping intelligent sentient beings in pools,having them perform tricks to be fed dead fish?
    Ric OBarrys Dolphin Project believes their is direct link to what happens in the Taiji Cove and the captivity industry! It does not matter that dolphins captured in the cove are no longer going to Marine Parks in the USA it is the demand for dolphins in captivity all over the world that fuels those fishermen in Taiji. They can get up to $100,000 for one dolphin! The demand for dolphin meat has declined drastically over the years because of the mercury content,so there is no money in hunting dolphins for food! What would you as a trainer say to him?
    There is no doubt that marine parks like sea world do excellent work in rescue and rehabilitation and thankyou for it! But why are turtles, sea lions and manatees worthy of R and R but dolphins and whales are not?
    Where do you find your information on Keiko? Any research i have done says his rehabilitation was a success! He lived in the wild for 5 years, yes they tracked him but surely that was a good thing, it enabled them to be sure he was thriving. Its inconclusive what he died from?
    Finally, not a question. During the summer months here in Europe on 2 different occasions, 2 large pods of Pilot Whales were seen off the Faroe Islands [ not Denmark ] and 2 separate Grinds were called. Sea Shepherd intervened both times and diverted both pods back out to sea. Pilot Whales were saved in the Faroe Islands this year!
    I am genuinely interested in your opinion. These questions are sincere and are not about attacking you in anyway!!

    1. Hello! I'm not Cat but I think maybe I can answer some of your questions :)

      1) "some dolphins can swim up to 100 miles a day": yes, they can, but that doesn't mean they need to. They swim that far to find food. They wouldn't swim that far for "fun," wasting valuable calories. Imagine people in third world countries who have to walk several miles each day for water. Would it be cruel to install a fresh water source in their house, because that would take away their need to walk all that way?

      2) You're right that Taiji dolphins are no longer being sent to U.S. parks ( I think everyone who supports captivity in the U.S. believe that the parks around the world that still do take animals from Taiji need to stop.

      3) Cetaceans are rescued, rehabbed and released by SeaWorld and many other captive cetacean facilities. A few examples:
      If you mean the whales and dolphins in shows, they can't be released. They would likely die from one of many things. For example, today it was announced that Valentin, a beautiful young male killer whale at Marineland France, has passed away due to a bacterial infection. Marineland France was recently hit by severe flooding which put the filtration systems out of working order. This likely caused Valentin's bacterial infection. Valentin, like many others, had an immune system which was not equipped to handle bacteria. If captive cetaceans were released, they likely would die from bacterial infections, like Val.

      4) The information I have on Keiko comes from many sources both pro and anti: "Freeing Keiko", "Killing Keiko", and several websites. Keiko died from pneumonia (which can be caused by bacteria). Part of Keiko's five years was spent in a sea pen. Then he swam from Iceland to Norway and showed up in a fjord seeking human attention.

      That's awesome about the pilot whales!

      As for your first question, I'll get back to you on it. :) I appreciate respectful antis!

    2. Hi, just to add onto what was already talked about, if you watch the Cove (movie by Ric O'Barry) VERY carefully, and ignore the 30 minutes discussing anti-captivity campaign, they actually do discuss the true and real reason the continue to have the dolphin hunts, which is what they consider "pest control". The film-makers asked those who do the hunts if they were paid the amount of money they make from selling the live dolphins, would they still do the hunt, and they responded with "yes". They believe that the dolphins eat their precious (and also endangered) fish catch (tuna), so they kill them for "pest control". This is actually stated in the film. But how many of us remember this part? No one. Know why? Because Ric spent literally two minutes to throw it in, but makes the rest of the 90 minute film about captivity. So everyone assumes that this hunt is driven solely by captivity, when it would still be happening if captivity was completely abolished.
      Hope that helps.

    3. Thankyou both for taking the time to answer my questions i appreciate it! C.. I have been following what happened in Marineland, Antibes, France Bless you Valentin, your with your mother now! xx..Over the last few hours I have heard people ask the question " if Valentin had been given a natural life would he still be alive today?" I wonder myself? Its a valuable question because it involves a life!
      So there are valuable arguments on both sides about Keiko, The fact that there are experts who believe it was a success gives me hope for the future and what it might bring. I also found an article about 2 dolphins found in the mountains of Guatemala, named Turbo and Ariel who were successfully rehabilitated back to the wild {} Granted they were not in captivity for long but, again it gives me hope!
      Patti.... I volunteered with the sea shepherd cove guardians about 3 seasons ago in Taiji. I heard them fishermen give different answers to the question " why do you do this?' So its hard to know what the honest answer is? Ric OBarry is in Taiji every season, maybe he sees a pattern of behavior or something else that allows him to call it? I dont know?
      From my own personal point of view, those 2 weeks in Taiji changed me and left a mark i will have for the rest of my life!! I witnessed a level of emotional intelligence in dolphins i have never seen in humans in my 50 years on this earth! I loved dolphins before i went to Taiji but i left with a deep respect for them! The reasons why it happens are not the priority for me, whats important to me is that it comes to an end!!!
      Thankyou both again for giving me your time!

    4. Anon,

      I really appreciate that we can have opposing views on this and learn from each other through this kind of discussion!! And thank you for being boots on the ground in Japan; that must've been really hard on so many levels.

      As Patti mentioned about dolphins swimming 100s of miles out of necessity, I also agree with that. Depending on the species and the population, some dolphins have very comparatively small home ranges (especially coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins). They follow the food, for the most part. But when we as marine mammal caretakers say that, we aren't also saying, "Therefore we don't want to build bigger habitats for the dolphins in zoos and aquariums." I think if any trainer had a magic wand, they'd create really large, naturalistic habitats. The problem is, that stuff costs tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. That kind of money is really hard to come by, unless you have very wealthy donors or are a major corporation.

    5. However, because most of the dolphins in the U.S. zoo and aquarium world were born there (the others were taken in the 70s and 80s from U.S. waters when that was still common practice, or are non-releasable rescues), where they live now is the world they know. I think in that sense, it's comparable to humans who have never had to hunt for their food, who live in houses and do not forage for miles and miles to find food and shelter. Some humans may crave going back to their wild roots, but most of us are pretty comfortable in our canned-life setting.

      I think this is a matter of perspective when it comes to Keiko. In some ways, I get confused about the message on the anti-captivity side. Not saying this in a mean way whatsoever (it's so hard to convey emotion on the internet!!), but on the one hand, people claim that orcas in SeaWorld don't live as long as their wild counterparts and then say wild orcas live to their 100s. But Keiko died much, much younger than that. And he never re-integrated with other orcas....he was alone. And he went searching for human company, because that's what he knew. So while some skills were successful, like swimming in the open ocean and he had the ability to hunt fish, he lived in isolation, got sick and died. I would consider Keiko's release a success if he actually lived like a wild orca, but he didn't.

      When it comes to experts declaring something is success or not, that's tricky too (on both sides of this argument). For example, did you know that if a wild dolphin in distress drowns in the net of the government agency trying to save it, they consider that a success? Like that's actually what they officially record. That is so messed up, I don't even know where to begin. And I have no idea how to fix that problem. But I was totally horrified to learn that. And I think it's the same thing with Keiko: why do we call it a failure or success? I guess it depends on the parameters you're looking at. I feel like he had many more years of life, and that when it was clear he CHOSE not to live like a wild orca, we should've gone, "Okay, this isn't working. For Keiko's well-being, let's let him live the life he is choosing." But instead, because people with egos got in the way, Keiko paid with his life.

      Ric O'Barry is another tricky story. Right now he is doing good work to raise awareness in Japan, but if you do a little research you'll find some disappointing things about him. There are a lot of people out there doing great work who agree with your opinions, anon. Those people are not in it for the money. I know a few people who used to work with Ric back in his Miami Seaquarium days. One of them (who is neutral on this topic and is not a trainer) told me he saw Ric about ten years ago. They started catching up, and Ric said to him, "Yeah, I switched sides on the dolphin thing. There's more money on this side." :( Both of our "sides" have some great people, and some not-so-great people.

      You're right about dolphins who haven't been in human care long having successful release stories. Echo and Misha are another one of those. But again, that's not relevant to U.S. facilities. But the bigger picture about how marine mammals are cared for in other parts of the world where there are little to no regulations (or they are not enforced), that's incredibly important.

    6. Hi Cat,
      Yes I appreciate that i can have a civil discussion with you and the others that commented too! I have had enough of the aggression and hatred that exists on both sides! There is knowledge, expertise and experience on both sides and the only way forward is to come together. Why is that so hard for people to grasp? It seems logical and rational to me! Already i have learned from you and the others after a few short paragraphs! See, its easy! The more i speak to people around me in everyday life the more i realise that most people do not care!! I have read articles that predict are oceans will be empty by 2048! The fact that most people do not care saddens me but, makes me angry too!
      What you said about the baby dolphin being euthanised rather than go to a zoo or an aquarium really bothered me! What? Seriously? Where has common sense gone?
      I am disappointed about Ric. I knew he began his career in the captive industry and have wondered what changed his mind? I would hate to think he was in this for money! He is very active in trying to stop what is happening in Taiji and i respect him for that! Indeed there are plenty rumours about Paul Watson too, the founder of Sea Shepherd!
      Whether Keiko was a failure or success i hope they do not stop trying. The chances of success might increase if they came together, learn from the mistakes and try again!
      Thanks Cat.

    7. You're right about so many people, it's not an issue easily divided into "good" and "bad". There are probably people I admire a lot who would disappoint me if I found out their true nature, or their motivation behind something. It's such a complicated situation. I feel like it's the people who aren't really in the limelight who are doing work purely because they feel it is the right thing to do, not for publicity or money or whatever. I mean, we all need money. And publicity raises awareness. There's a balance somewhere...and if I were the person to figure all that out, I guess I'd have no problems of my own (ha!).

      Yes, it is true that perfectly healthy baby dolphins are euthanized. It's standard practice in the U.S., because the babies are dependent on their mothers. If their mothers have died, then the idea is there is "no use" saving the babies, because they will have to go to an aquarium. It's "too much money" trying to rehab a baby dolphin, knowing he or she will never be deemed releasable. I think that really, really sucks. I feel like that's treating an individual life like it's worthless.

      Or, in some cases, there aren't enough resources to do anything other than basic triage on the animals. A veterinarian told me that she responded to a big stranding of dolphins in New England. I think they were Atlantic white-sided. Anyways, because of the location they stranded, it impossible to get trucks or any vehicles down to them to move them. That meant they'd need to be hand-carried out. But there were a) not enough people to do this, b) no where to put them to rehab them temporarily, and c) no long-term rehab facility. So she had to euthanize every single one of them.

    8. I think I read something about O'Barry owning a Jaguar E Type during his Seaquarium days which I think is a load of bull. I mean dolphin trainers would barely be able to afford a decent new car let alone a fancy British sports car.

  10. EXCELLENT article Cat!! I know people on both sides of this debate can be guilty of this awful behavior and it needs to stop! Telling someone to kill themselves is most likely going to make them unwilling to hear any argument you or your side has to offer... it does absolutely no good. I'm looking at both "pro-caps" and "anti-caps" right now. We HAVE to stop!

  11. I don't agree with keeping any marine mammal in captivity; and I have mixed feelings about keeping any intelligent animal in captivity. But for me the difference is that zoos (the ones I've visited anyway) make an attempt to give the animals a fairly natural life. E.g. primates are given structures to climb and swing from; big cats are given a jungle-like enclosure. This, I believe, is different from sea world, because the animals there are expected to do unnatural behaviours such as jumping through hoops, balancing balls, being ridden by divers and so on. To me, this makes sea world more like a circus and less like a zoo.
    I would hope that the people who work with any performing animals do so out of kindness and love of animals, but I would think that this is probably not true in every case, and some employees will be cruel to the animals. This is sadly probably true in any caring profession; most will care, and some will be cruel.
    I've not seen Blackfish, nor have I ever been to sea world. I'm basing my opinions on a few TV ads I've seen, showing whales and dolphins performing for spectators at sea world. I don't wish to support that industry, nor circuses, nor dancing bears or horse racing or anything which is training animals for our amusement. And that's why I will never go to sea world, and I wish it would release the animals or at least stop the performances. And make the pools a lot larger too.
    But I don't think the "just kill yourself" attitude is very helpful to anyone.

    1. You have never been to SeaWorld, so you have never seen their shows. All the animals at SeaWorld perform NATURAL behaviors, but often they are extensions or "exaggerated". The sea lions do not balance balls on their noses, at least not the last time I went, but showing how they CAN do that demonstrates how flexible and durable their whiskers are. They are not actually balancing a ball on their noses at all, it's on their whiskers. Pretty amazing!
      I also want to pinpoint the origin of the "show" at SeaWorld, and other facilities that do "shows". First, I recommend looking up an animal behaviorist named Steve Martin. He has on numerous occasions spoken about how "shows" can help make a better impact on an audience. But the origin of shows is incredibly benign, but because the way it's evolved, it has negative connotations.
      When they first had marine mammals, they had to feed them. But simply throwing food in the water and letting the animals eat wasn't healthy for those animals. They were made to hunt and WORK for their food in the wild. In the wild, they have to be able to slide out of the water and work their way back in, they breach, they lob-tail, they swim super fast. So, to create a more naturalistic routine for these marine mammals, they began training them to do these behaviors for their food. And it was amazing to watch! Seeing these majestic animals propel themselves out of the water and slide across a shallow walkway for trainers was impressive. And the way they trained, using operant conditioning through positive reinforcement provided an avenue to building a positive relationship with the animals, so positive that they became friends, and were able to get in the water with them. And then the behaviors they were training them to do, the husbandry they were providing, and the friendship that developed was so beautiful to watch, they decided to let visitors and guests watch these amazing behaviors, and learn about thes amazing animals. So they created little routines and provided a rehearsed storyline and the show was born. But as time went on, they saw the animals required and LIKED learning new and challenging aspects, so they started getting more elaborate, and more sensational. It was almost a double edged sword. They needed to continually challenge the animals, and visitors liked seeing new things, but the more they changed the show and made it more sensational, the more "circusy" it became.
      I hated the Shamu show "Believe". It was a spectacle about the trainers, not conservation and learning about orcas. Now that they've changed it to "One Ocean", it's so much better. I like how they have changed the sea lion show to be comedic but also teach about conservation as well. I have mixed feelings about Blue Horizons and Azul, the dolphin and whale shows. It's a theatrical performance and showcases amazing behaviors and is very inspirational and imaginative, but because there aren't any words in the entire show, it doesn't educate the way Shamu and the sea lion show does.
      Also, the exhibits at SeaWorld are incredibly naturalistic. Dolphin Cove, Pacific Point Preserve, and Wild Arctic off the top of my head are naturalistic environments for marine mammals. And when the killer whale expansion is commplete, they too will have a naturalistic environment as well.
      My point is (I like rambling, sorry, not sorry), even if they stopped the shows, they would still be required to do these behaviors because it's actually healthy for the animals and keeps a strong bond between animal and trainer. Without that bond and without being able to train enriching and exercising behaviors, we would have incredibly unhealthy animals. And if we're going to do the behaviors regardless, why not let the public watch?