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Even though SeaWorld’s Light Up the Night show has little educational value I think it’s awesome to see the orcas performing these great high energy behaviours and having an extra show/enrichment to enjoy in the evening. Also if it makes people happy and make them appreciate the killer whale, that’s a plus.

Honestly I just want SeaWorld to stop thinking about the activists, who will never come to the parks or ever support them no matter what they do, and focus on their visitors.

The double-think in that last sentence is honestly part of the problem, though. There’s no hard line between “activists” and “guests” anymore with regard to cetaceans. Between “hardcore ARA’s” and “guests”, maybe. 

The people who come to Seaworld now have been affected by the rhetoric of Blackfish - That fact is not going to change. Even if they love the facility and the whales, they’ll be cognizant of the fact that cetacean husbandry is not perfect. (Fun fact: It’s not. No animal husbandry is, because it is a field informed by new scientific discoveries and therefore can always continue improving). Most guests, though, they have a lot more questions. And whether people who prefer showier shows like it or not, the force of public opinion is turning away from that type of entertainment and towards more educational things. 

Does that mean the animals get to do less high energy behaviors? Yup. But gate take keeps the company in business, and therefore Seaworld needs to supply what the guests are willing to accept. After Blackfish and due to the current AR propaganda, traditional style animal shows are no longer publicly acceptable. Does it suck, if you’re used to and love the old ones? Yup. Does that mean it is wrong? Not necessarily. 

The zoo world is incredibly resistant to change - even for welfare purposes - because it is built on tradition. It’s only in the last few decades that scientific assessment of protocols has really become thing. The zoo industry is in a super critical transition period, though, and facilities have to go with it. Public opinion is changing. There’s very little to no pushback against propaganda that discounts the current practices as detrimental to welfare, which means that what the public - the guests - think of as acceptable is changing. Currently, places are rolling with that and finding new ways to rework what they do to fit that current schema of acceptability. If the field can’t find other, more acceptable ways for their orcas to get the same level of enrichment or exercise as they get with high-energy behaviors during a show, there’s a much larger problem out there. I don’t think that is the problem - I think that change is just hard, especially forced change that happened because the greater organization and associated accrediting body did not have their pants on when the shitty messaging hit the fan. 

If Seaworld stopped listening to that and went back to what is traditional, they’d be out of business in half a decade flat. I sincerely doubt we’ll ever see the old type of orca shows again. I don’t know how I feel about that - I don’t know enough. I do know that some things that were wonderful and appropriate to their time period are no longer extant in the industry because we’ve moved on. The public, or the keepers, or a combination of both decided that a practice wasn’t what they were willing to support, and they phased it out. Change happens. Evolution happens. The end of an era does not mean the world is ending. 

(Seaworld could benefit from doing some proactive education and outreach, though, because it’s important that the guests who do have questions have more information than the company is currently providing.)

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