Thursday, May 3, 2012

Changing Styles. Some Folk's Like It, Some Folk's Don't

I get asked all the time why I am against captivity of orcas and dolphins, but not against the captivity of dogs. This analogy is illogical. Dogs are not cetaceans. Not even close.
    If dogs were free ranging, migratory, ocean-dwelling animals, I would be against their captivity. 

'Dog are not cetaceans, is the only correct statement that I have found on this entire site.  That is a fact, "not even close."  Dogs were free ranging, migratory, land-dwelling, pack animals, then they were "captured" and through thousand's of years of  handling/training domesticated.'

'The advances that have been made are brilliantly illustrated in "Seaworld's Reluctant Progression."   Regardless of why, allow them to continue by learning from history.   If "time out" is an endorsed punishment for misbehaving children, with no physical or psychological effects, why is it improper for an animal, claiming they are of equal intelligence and emotions?  If you have a plate of 25 french fries and you don't eat 5 of them because they are soggy, are you starving, or do you "anticipate" the next plate of 25 french fries more, hoping they are all crispy.'


A cetacean activist, fighting against cetacean slaughter and captivity


     Many people who stand against captivity will argue that Seaworld is uneducational and disrespectful like a circus. I recently came across a Tumblr post regarding this issue of Seaworld vs. the circus. Truth be told, I have already created a video comparing and contrasting the two. But it appears that I have a wider audience here than on Youtube.
     This captivity supporter frowned upon the blasting music of the circus, the costumed performers dancing around, and the animals made to look like clowns, yet praised Seaworld! This seems a bit hypocritical and unfortunately for the Seaworld fans who are against circuses, the same can be said for Seaworld’s shows. At the Shamu Show trainers are often dressed in colorful or themed wetsuits, doing dances around the stage. The Blue Horizons dolphin show is the same, and even features acrobatic stunts with circus performers flying over the dolphin tank in costumes. The sea lion trainers seem to be the most theatrical, dressing up in wacky costumes on elaborate stages. Aside from these facts about the trainers and their circus acts, the question still remains as to whether or not the animals are also performing circus tricks and made to look like clowns.
The animals at Seaworld are there to entertain. That means making the audience laugh, and pulling at their heartstrings as they execute funny or cute tricks; even thrilling stunts set to dramatic music. A dolphin flips over a rope and jumps through a hoop. A sea lion juggles a ball on its nose as a walrus shakes its behind to a silly song. The orcas give adorable ”kisses,” and even dance on stage. They twist and spin around their enclosures, splashing the audience giving trainers rides, and tossing them into the air… then they return to center stage at the sound of a whistle to receive their reward. The animals are trained to behave as actors. They are called “performers,” who perform on “stage,” in “shows.” They rehearse the show in the show pools, and there are even certain segments, just like in actual theatre. Everything is entirely theatrical and scripted. Very little is genuine, which is why it is so difficult for me to call Seaworld employees animal “trainers.” They are more actor less trainer and are even required to have good acting and public speaking abilities for the job. When an audience comes to a show they are not seeing animals behaving as they were born to behave, but are seeing animals “act” on command. Drawing a connection between circuses and Seaworld I sometimes refer to the ‘trainers,’ as “whale tamers,” or “dolphin tamers.” Their role at the theme park is not unlike the role of a lion tamer at a circus. To tame the animal, and display your dominance over it- even dancing with it, or cuddling it, strengthening the audience’s idea that these animals are cute teddy bears that have been mastered.
    These shows encourage people to view these wild animals as clowns. They become reduced to silly creatures who do comedic stunts and “act” on stage. This image is not just blatantly disrespectful, but it is also very dangerous. The presenting of wildlife as cuddly animals is so enthralling and entertaining that people refuse to look “backstage.”  For a corporation active in the trade of live dolphins and whales, this is vital for business. The information in the shows, is carefully moderated so as to not present captivity in a negative light.
    Seaworld’s dolphin show has an uncanny resemblance to Berdyansk’s dolphin circus act, a dolphin circus in Ukraine. As well as the Indonesian traveling dolphin circus. The only difference between these is the name. And the fact that Seaworld is a stationary facility.
     What educational value is there? If the show features a short commentary on the animal’s size, capabilities, etc.  it is rarely, if ever, acknowledged by the audience. Like circuses, Seaworld is frequented by tourists. Usually families with young children who simply want to be entertained and splashed – not educated. In addition, the information gathered from the commentary portion of the show can be gathered online, or in a book. Watching Seaworld’s shows is not necessary for education on the animals. In fact, there is no science within the shows that you could not receive somewhere else. This Cirque Du Soleil is a veil of propaganda covering the animal’s true nature. We now have whale watching and swim with wild dolphins programs that present the animals without this veil and in their purest form. In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that Seaworld’s animals are living their lives doing choreographed circus tricks to blaring music as the trainers (or even circus performers and acrobats) dance around on stage. Seaworld is an aquatic circus.

'Alluding to the fact that if something is "circus", it is somehow tacky or tawdry is very offensive.  I shouldn't have to point out the false statement's in the above "editorial".  A reasonably intelligent person can find them on their own.  "The orcas give adorable ”kisses,” and even dance on stage......."   "Dance on stage!!!!!!"  Boy, would I love to see that.  Hell of a piece of training.'

Marineland and Game Farm  1975

Marineland and Game Farm  1978

King Waldorf Theater  2006

Story courtesy of King of Aquaria  Pictures added.

My personal observations: 'I have to admit, I quit going to and enjoying marine show's in the early 90's when they started with the "feel good"  Born Free/We Are The World theme in their show's.  Schmaltzy/cute and charming isn't my cup of tea.  I have noted two major changes in "marine park shows" in addition to the "schmaltz".  One,  I have  noted what I perceive, and correct me if I am wrong, a decline in training/handling skill level.  I, myself am an animal trainer and I want to see something.  I want to see that Orca "dancing on stage" cetacean activist mentions.   In the 1975 photo we see Trainer Bill Roberts(mentioned in past posts) singly working 3 dolphins and an Orca.  There were actually 4 dolphins in the show, but one was cut out of the photo to include Bill.  Impressive, from an animal trainers point of view.  In the 1978 photo, we see two trainers working 6 dolphins, and an announcer on the far left.  Still pretty impressive.  In the 2006 photo at the bottom we see 5 "trainers/presenters", 4 females and one male working 5 dolphins.     From an animal trainers point of view, and what I have witnessed in the past, all I can say is "what's up with that?"   Which brings me to the second major change I have noted, and it may po some folks, and I would gladly be corrected with facts.   The vast majority of trainers/presenters today seem to be women.  Why?  Are they more skilled then men?  Of course not.  Less skilled then men?  Of course not.   Politically correct equal opportunity?  Of course not.  What is it then, why the majority of women in training/handling show positions?  Simple, they have "tits and ass" and look a lot better then men is a wet suit  and fit in perfectly with the "Born Free/We Are The World Schmaltzy/cute and charming" changes that started occurring in the early 90's to address animal activism.    Early day's of marine parks used women in bathing suits for publicity pictures, feeding the "Flippers" a fish, or posing with a macaw/cockatoo on their arm.  Marine parks returned to what worked in the past.  Think I am wrong?  How many males are holding the most skilled Head Trainer positions and how many females in marine parks around the world?  How many males are trainer/presenters and how many females in the less skilled, work your way up positions?

1 comment:

Greg May said...

As everyone knows, KING OF AQUARIA is very pro-aquaria as far as maintaining cetaceans in captivity! The Bible reads, "God gave Man dominion over all animals". And for these so-called 'animal rights' activists' to harass aquaria because they exhibit killer whales, they can crawl back under their algae-infested rock! These ignorant people should channel their efforts to more worthwhile causes like stopping the wholesale slaughter of dolphins in Japan. They have already closed one marine attraction in Florida - Ocean World- and put a lot of people out of work. To bring attention to my articles, I 'cross promote'. For example, I would go on YouTube and blog under the videos of Lolita performing at the Miami Seaquarium to get viewers to read my article about how well the Seaquarium has taken care of her. After all, this September will mark her 42nd year in captivity. That speaks volumes as to how well they have taken care of her. And to release her would be her death sentence. Look what happened to Keiko! The comments from these so-called 'activitsts' suggests a low-caliber mentality'.