I’m thrilled to introduce you to Cody Angeles today. Cody worked as an Educator/Narrator with additional assignments as a Camp/Sleep-over Counselor and Lifeguard at SeaWorld San Diego from March/April 2008 through January 2009. As a surfer, he had a passion for educating others about marine animals and wanted to give back to the ocean and make a difference. He, as with so many, was under the impression that the benefits of conservation and education that SeaWorld advertised were for the greater good of marine animals and our oceans.
Cody describes his training as daily lectures which provided information regarding various animal facts such as physical descriptions, height/weight, swimming speeds, eating habits, etc. I wonder how these facts were obtained since swimming speeds in a tank are hardly comparable to those in the open ocean and eating habits vary depending on where pods live in the ocean. He also says that Educators were required to include a section of the presentation regarding conservation and what role SeaWorld plays. Can you imagine standing at the orca tank talking about conservation as orcas behind you were snatched from their families in the wild?
“Educators were given additional information to use in response to specific questions guests might ask regarding animal captivity, bent fins, animal treatment/nutrition, and animal well-being. We were also taught to avoid certain key words while presenting over the microphone; anything with a negative connotation regarding SeaWorld or related to animal captivity was taboo”, Cody stated. At the time, he never questioned any of the information given to him. He viewed SeaWorld as a huge entity that cared for the environment, and he was told that the animals in captivity were living better than most people. Cody felt that any park guest who questioned animal captivity were weird, “hippie” or misinformed, but he has now come to realize that he was the misinformed one. He now regrets not validating those questions, brushing them off, because of what he was instructed to say.
He personally remembers that bent dorsal fin dilemma while he was employed, stating that seeing the orcas daily with their fins bent didn’t sit well with him. Even then, Cody said that due to mis-information, exclusion, and the manipulation of facts, the educators set responses made sense. His feelings towards captivity were neutral at the time, because he was under the impression that animals at SeaWorld were either rescued or could not be released in the wild due to illness. In the meantime, SeaWorld was continually breeding orcas using those who had been captured from their families as young calves.
Cody states that his turning point regarding animal captivity was after watching “The Cove”. After watching the movie, he began to question and research where SeaWorld receives their animals since they seem to be so fully stocked all the time with no shortages. Now he is a proud supporter of Sea Shepherd and Earth Island Institute.
He states, “I personally believe that the biggest conflict to overcome would have to be the misinformation that the public has been given. If the truth is made more readily available, then the public can make a more educated decision behind what they, as consumers, want to continue to support.”
Cody Angeles has a B.A. in Medical Anthropology from California State University, San Marcos. He currently works as a surf instructor where he is able to educate and show people the animals in their true setting. “Being able to see dolphins and seals out free has a much better impression than swimming in circles in a tank.”
Huge thanks again to Cody for speaking out. To contact Cody, comment directly on this post.