>> Friday, February 26, 2010
In the wake of yesterdays bombardment of the news of an orca attack on a trainer at SeaWorld, Orlando, the conversation came up many times about the purpose of keeping these large mammals in captivity. While animals have been held in captivity for thousands of years for the simple sake of enjoyment, showcase, and pride of ownership, many a conversation has been had about the reasoning behind this. This sort of thing is perfect for the now rare and occasional Debate! series.
Too many times, the presence of non-native wildlife in an area, no matter how contained the plants or animals may be, the organisms end up becoming invasives and manage a way into the wildlife in the surrounding areas. This destroys the biodiversity in many areas and since this is the Year of Biodiversity, an appropriate debate as well. That is what happened, if you recall, with the Vervet monkeys in St. Kitts. There is also a very serious problem with invasive lionfish in the Caribbean. There is even a bounty out for these guys. The lionfish ended up in these waters as wayward pets. People buy exotic animals and instead of properly disposing of, selling, whatever, they release these animals into the wild. Now the lionfish is destroying reef systems simply by not having any natural predators. We'll get into that later, though.
On a larger scale, however, killer whales (Orcinus orca) and other dolphins are not your average pets. Many of these animals start out as rescue animals or are bred in captivity. The rescue animals, such as those found at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, are rehabilitated for release. Many of the seriously injured ones, like Winter, would never make it being re-released in the wild so they are used for educational purposes. Many of these amazing mammals, however, actually are captured for use in entertainment shows, suffer various pathologies, and have a decreased life expectancy.
So, dear readers, on what side of the argument do you weigh in on here? People do die of pig related accidents all the time, and this was a bit of a freak incident, but should animals of this nature be held captive? There are a lot of angles one can take here, so happy debating!