So there have been a few questions and issues raised over the past day or so given the expected but still devastating news of Tili's passing yesterday. I didn't want to clog the SWO thread up with all this so I decided to put it in here instead.
ThemeParkCrafter raised a concern about struggling to find non biased information online.
I'd largely agree that it's very tricky to find non biased information. There is some to be found if you know where to look though. For example, on the issue of lifespan you can find peer reviewed papers by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center which is not affiliated with SeaWorld or extremist (in my view) groups such as PETA. Another good website that has a lot of good articles about a range of marine biological issues and stories is awesomeocean.com . They do support SeaWorld and other accredited zoos & aquariums however they are a completely independent organisation. I must say though that I think the very best way to make your mind up is to visit the parks, speak to the trainers, vets & animal care staff, perhaps even do a behind the scenes tour and then decide. Personally, this is how I made my mind up after seeing animals that were healthy, interactive and stimulated.
Owen & Jack raised some concerns about the size of the Orca habitats. Before I start I think it is important to note that it was activist groups who effectively blocked proposals to double the size of the Orca habitats.
Shamu Stadium is not the ocean. Plain and simple, no way of denying it or getting around that, it's just a fact. However, just because it is different doesn't necessarily mean it is worse. Like humans, Orcas are some of the most adaptable creatures on this planet and thus have adapted excellently to this environment. This is shown by the fact that prior to March 2016 (when SeaWorld decided to end their breeding programme) the Orcas often bred naturally and gave birth to healthy offspring. This is an indicator of mental health in almost all species; if an animal is not happy, it will not breed.
We often say that it is not an issue of quantity of space, but quality of space. By this we mean that if we constantly make changes to the environment, be it with EEDs (fancy talk for toys), social groupings, training schedule, diet etc, we can keep the Orcas mentally and physically stimulated. It works. Slightly off topic but I think this video of Amaya perfectly demonstrates that the Orcas do enjoy interacting with their trainers: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ffUciV1rIRE
I feel as if my thoughts on the Blackfish """"documentary""""" can probably be easily predicted so I'll leave that at that.
Lastly, I saw someone (I can't remember who) post in the SB last night that, "it's just an animal". Maybe for most. But for those of us who know each whale by name, have seen each of their vastly different personalities and have spent hour after hour learning about and interacting with them, it is truly heartbreaking. They become a member of your family, I can't quite even describe it. When you're around them you get this most incredible feeling and days like yesterday are some of the very worst days for us. I can't imagine what it is like for trainers, vets & care staff who have known Tili over the course of 25 years in Orlando.
Anyway, I hope that helps but if you want to discuss in more detail you can always post in here or contact me via twitter @SeaWorldVisions if you'd prefer.