Just a heads up, this might be long, and really incredibly biased, or at least I think it'll be. If you don't want to read it, go right ahead. I don't usually post opinions like this anymore, but I just don't know where else to express this.
No, I don't think I'll do a tl;dr.
It seems to me that in recent years Sea World has come under attack more and more. It's come at the heels of the death of one of their trainers back somewhere around 2010 (don't cite me on that). The incident caused massive backlash because it occurred during one of their Orca shows, and if I'm correct, it was the Believe show, so that's just adds a bit more of an ironic edge for me to this tragedy. I'm not going to pretend I know Dawn, or how her family feels, but shortly thereafter a movie called 'Black Fish' was released. No, I haven't seen it, I don't think I ever will. Still, one of my best friends ever saw it, and was trying to explain to me what happened in it. Personally... I couldn't believe a single word she said. I can't believe that there was abuse going on in that park, in any of the parks for that matter.
For me, I know it's probably denial. But, telling me that the trainers abused the animals is... it's not something I can comprehend. It's like being a child and being told that one of your parents is the scum of the earth and a terrible person when they've been nothing but sweet and kind to you for your entire life. Or that your role model, someone you've always aspired to be is really a dirt bag who kicks puppies.
It's just something I don't think I could ever come to terms with, or accept as real. Am I saying that none of it ever happened? No. I can't prove one way or another. But I don't think I can accept testimony from people I've never met before in my life and could just be butt hurt, or paid to tell what they want to.
There have only ever been three incidence of animals harming people in the Orlando Park, admittedly two of which involved a death. I can't say for sure in the other parks, but I couldn't find anything on them. Two of them involved the single largest Killer Whale in captivity, who I think should have been released into the wild a long time ago. He's massive, I've seen the largest in the San Antonio park Ulisses, and he's massive
if the other guy is larger than... damn son. One incident I can't even call an incident, a little kid broke the rules with her tray of fish, which the dolphins know means food, and tried to go after the food and she got bitten. It's an animal, it doesn't know the common courtesies that humans use. They expressly state at least a dozen times do not lift your tray above the wall, so that's completely on the kid. The second one that I think is honestly blameless involves the largest orca, who I don't honestly feel like naming because I think there's a stigma against him. A homeless man, who I believe had some mental issues as well, hid in the park until it closed and then jumped into the orca's tank. The autopsy declared he died of hypothermia. If you've ever been splashed by that water, it's freezing. I used to know what temperature they hold it at, but I can't remember anymore. I know it's at most around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. When they found the young man he was on the back of the largest orca, which, if you know anything about their behavior in the wild, the orca was trying to help him breathe.
The few of you who have read this far probably wonder why I'm so adamant about defending the park. I probably should have put this at the beginning too. Oh well, what's done is done. I always used to be afraid of the ocean, but I loved ocean animals. No, I didn't see Jaws or anything, it was just a healthy fear of the unknown. But, the love came from Sea World. My parents have been taking me to those parks since before I could walk, there are pictures on my mantle to prove that. There's even more where that came from. You can watch me grow up through those pictures. The latest is from January of this year, where I went every single day I could for a week, and loved every second of it.
When I was in 4th or 5th grade my parents started taking me to day camps down at the San Antonio park. I knew that place better than the back of my hand. Some of my absolute fondest memories are from there. The only ones that are better are from San Diego's park, where I was finally old enough to do the full sleepover camps where you got to live in the park for a week. Hell, two of the people I watch Himeno24
I met at one of those camps. I don't know if they remember me, but I certainly remember them.
The best memories I have by far were at San Antonio again where I trained to be a camp counselor one day, at the kind of camp that I went to as a kid. That was one of the most rewarding things that I've ever done in my life.
At Sea World I've gotten to experience so many things. I've cleaned out the star fish enclosure, I've sorted fish and measured out portions for the orca's diet. I've seen the entire back lot at two different parks. I've touched sharks, rays, starfish, and many more things. I've ridden the rides, I've spoken with the people. I've played a huge game of what amounted to hide and seek where they always asked if we could see the sky tower, the answer is yes, you can ALWAYS see the sky tower (except that one time we couldn't). But most importantly, I've learned and helped teach conservation.
What most people seem to forget is that a large part of what Sea World does is conservation. They fund that through the park. They've saved more than 20,000 animals, rehabilitated them, cleaned them, saved their lives, and ultimately released them back into the wild.
Everything I know about treating the world better comes from this place that people are trying to demonize. (And, admittedly hippy camp, but Sea World did it first, and better.)
Sea World was the one place I could rely on to be happy, special, and educational when my home life got hard. We were privileged, I know that much, but that doesn't mean that it was always happy. Sea World was an escape where I was just another kid enjoying my time in a place that was truly special for me.
Recently I read an article about how Sea World is going to disappear in a few years because they don't address the allegations made against them. Personally, I don't think addressing them would do them any good. The more you try to fight shit like that the more it sticks. If you ignore it, it stays stuck to you, but you don't become completely consumed by it. The more you defend yourself against something terrible the more guilty you look, even if you didn't do it. People always say things like, well if you have to defend yourself THAT MUCH, then you must be guilty.
So you can hate on Sea World, you can dislike it, you can be indifferent, or you could still like it. For me, it's something special, something that I will always hold in my heart.
Thank you if you read this far.