Part 4: SeaWorld killer trainers would make great politicians

Originally posted on Educating people about killer whale captvity:

It is my last day in Orlando and I still don’t have any footage of me asking some forbidden questions to a SeaWorld killer whale trainer.

I cant come all this way and not leave without even trying to talk to a trainer. I decide to go back to SeaWorld one last time in the hope that I have the courage to get some footage.

I arrive at Shamu Stadium to watch the rehearsals for the ‘One Ocean’ show. For the first time I see Tilikum. He is in E pool with his grandson Trua. The size of him his heartbreaking. He is is 22.5 feet long and weighs 12,000 pounds and is in a pool which around 25 feet deep. What a horrific way to treat a magnificent animal like that. The main pool where the whales perform is only 36 feet deep.When the show starts he just watches through the…

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Part 2. My visit to SeaWorld Orlando – I come face to face with trainer Holly Byrd

Originally posted on Educating people about killer whale captvity:


My father and I arrive at SeaWorld Orlando a day after we land in Florida. We are tired, jetlagged and overwhelmed by SeaWorld’s appearance: The park is spotless, the trees and grounds are maintained to perfection. I feel intimidated: I am not a journalist and I already feel nervous and out of my depth at attempting to talk to the killer whale trainers.

There is fast ‘happy’ music playing – to get all of the family in the mood of having a great day of seeing animals up close and personal with some great rollercoasters and ‘educational’ shows thrown into the mix. As it is the parks’ 50th anniversary of being in business there is a lot of self promotion evident. The words ‘SeaWorld Cares’ logo is throughout the park on posters and even on trash cans. The propaganda is amazing.

As we enter the park there are beautiful flamingos…

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SeaWorld Bogus Critique Of Blackfish

Originally posted on Tim Zimmermann:

Despite insisting that Blackfish is having no impact on its business, SeaWorld continues to invest heavily in a PR counter-attack on Blackfish and the former trainers who appear in the film.

It’s latest minute-by-minute critique of Blackfish was perhaps the most detailed, and most tediously off-base, critique it has issued yet.

Below you will find the Blackfish production team’s rebuttal. What’s notable is that SeaWorld continues to massage and manipulate the facts even as it tries to accuse Blackfish of mis-representing the facts. What’s also notable is that SeaWorld continues to try and distract and divert from the core issues raised in Blackfish about the wisdom and morality of killer whale captivity, without ever directly addressing those issues.

I guess we can keep going round after round on this, but the facts simply are not on SeaWorld’s side. And it seems clear that the public is beginning to understand a…

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Some background history at how I got interested in killer whale captivity

Originally posted on Educating people about killer whale captvity:


I never considered myself to be an animal activist. Sure I love animals but I was never passionate about trying to protect or educate people about the mistreatment or neglect of animals. I have three cats whom rule the roost, come and go as they please and who are spoilt rotten but I never put my head above the parapet with regard to animal welfare, until I saw a documentary called ‘Blackfish’ at the London Sundance film festival in April 2013.
I had seen ‘The Cove’ back in the summer of 2010 and I got educated about the plight of dolphins in Taiji, Japan whom are killed or selected for a life in captivity.

I found ‘The Cove’ harrowing and started to think back to all of the times I had visited America and had visited marine parks like SeaWorld…

In 1991 I was 13 when I had my first encounter at SeaWorld. I remember…

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Meet Pixie the Manatee

I have heard about Blue Springs, winter home of manatees, for years.  Even though it is late in the season, on a whim, we decided to go visit last weekend.  I had seen the list of some of the tagged manatees, monitored by Sea to Shore Alliance, before we went.  I was hoping for a sighting, but was not getting my hopes up since the weather was warmer.

As we got into the park, there were rumors of one manatee in the area.  Moving on to the end of the walkway I saw an infamous tag floating in the water.  There she was! Slowly moving among people swimming was a lone manatee.  Others in the area said her name was Pixie.


When I returned home, I looked up her profile, which states:

Pixie was rescued as a very young orphaned calf on July 24, 2010.  She was found in Daytona in the Halifax River, Volusia County, when she was 110 cm long and weighed 42 lbs, and brought in to SeaWorld in Orlando for medical care.  She also spent time in Columbus Zoo to grow and gain weight before being moved to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.  Pixie was released at Blue Spring in the St. Johns River in January 2014. 

After reading her story I was concerned.  What if she didn’t know how to leave the springs?  What if people harassed her in the spring?  What would happen if she didn’t leave?

All these questions were weighing heavily on my mind, so on Tuesday I decided to call.  First I spoke to Buddy Powell, Executive Director of Sea to Shore Alliance.  Buddy has worked for more than 40 years conserving manatees starting at Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1970s.  He co-founded Sea to Shore Alliance in 2008.  He said that occasionally a rescued manatee will imprint on people and not join the other manatees in the area.  He said they were looking for volunteers who would monitor her at the springs to ensure swimmers were keeping a distance from her.  I gladly volunteered and was then referred to Melody Fischer.

Melody, Manatee Field Biologist, instructed me to tell people to ignore her and stay 20 ft. away.  My first “shift” was to be Saturday, March 30.  She said worst case scenario, Pixie would be returned to captivity and put on a program to make her less reliant on humans.  I was looking forward to Saturday to do my part for Pixie to remain wild.

Thursday morning I received a heartbreaking email from Melody.

Fish and Wildlife Service has made the decision to bring Pixie into captivity as soon as possible for her safety and for the potential safety risk she could pose to swimmers after noting some of her more aggressive pursuing behavior.  A capture attempt is scheduled for today at 10 am. 

I was able to speak to Melody later and she explained that Pixie was becoming even more aggressive when she ignored.  She would most likely be returning to Lowry Park Zoo and would be a candidate for re-release next winter.  The concern is that if she chases after people, it would put her at a higher risk with boaters when/if she were to leave the spring.  For her safety, it is best to try to desensitize her to humans.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Pixie was successfully moved to Lowry Park Zoo on Thursday.  Melody told DBNJ that Pixie will undergo “a behavior conditioning program to wean her off human attention and encourage her to socialize more with other manatees.”

I’m incredibly grateful for the work done by Sea to Shore Alliance, and hopefully I can see Pixie at Blue Springs next winter.  For more manatee updates, check out their partner’s page Save the Manatees Club and sign the petition to give manatees sanctuary in Kings Bay.  I’ll continue to post updates when available.

UPDATE 4/2/14

From Lowry Park:

Pixie arrived safely and is settling in to their Manatee Hospital and Aquatic Center. Her weight and body condition are in the normal parameters, so that is not a concern at this time. She will likely gain weight while she is there, since she will not need to find her own food. She is eating normally and has begun to socialize with other manatee patients. Their team will be working with her in the coming weeks and months to prepare her for another opportunity for release.



SeaWorld Makes A Big Splash In Worst Company Competition Debut; AT&T, Citi Also Move On

SeaWorld Makes A Big Splash In Worst Company Competition Debut; AT&T, Citi Also Move On

Originally posted on Consumerist:

wcia2014header In the nearly decade-long history of Worst Company In America, we’ve noticed that newcomers — especially those who make the bracket because they’re in the news a lot — either flame out in the early rounds (like Lululemon) or take the tournament by storm (like past winners EA and BP). This year’s out-of-nowhere surprise comes courtesy of the folks at SeaWorld, which swam to an easy win in its WCIA debut.

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Demonstration For Blood Dolphins To Take Place at The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Headquarters In Switzerland

Originally posted on Champions for Cetaceans:

By Kirsten Massebeau

On March 28, 2014 Save the Blood Dolphins and dolphin advocates from all over the world, including Ric O’Barry star of “The Cove” and Director of the Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project, are planning a huge demonstration at The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) headquarters in Switzerland. The demonstrators are demanding WAZA end their silence and cut ties with the cruel dolphin drive fisheries in Taiji, Japan, and the captive industry that cannot sustain itself without the infusion of wild dolphins: “The number of dolphins bred in captivity does not replace the number that die. They suffer from high mortality rates, low breeding success and often endure physical and psychological disorders. Cetacea are frequently captured from the wild and sold into captivity.”(source)

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