Showbiz for orcas is facing extinction in Orlando after SeaWorld yielded to public pressure this week in California, said Louie Psihoyos, the dolphin activist and Oscar-winning filmmaker. "SeaWorld stock will be like owning shares of a buggy whip factory as the automobile gained popularity.”
On Monday, SeaWorld moved away from killer whale performances, ending “theatrical” entertainment by captive orcas in California. The decision does not affect other SeaWorld venues, including Orlando, according to reports.
“Almost all social and environmental [action] arise out of California and spread,” Psihoyos said, answering an email from The Daily Fray. “The rest of the U.S. lags a few years behind. SeaWorld’s parks in Florida and Texas will fail, too, as the movement grows."
Psihoyos said, “Owning SeaWorld stock will be like owning shares of a buggy whip factory as the automobile gained popularity.”
Psihoyos won an Academy Award in 2010 for “The Cove,” a searing analysis of dolphin hunting in Japan. “Racing Extinction” is scheduled for a global broadcast debut Dec. 2 on Discovery Channel. "Blackfish," a 2013 documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwait, also indicted SeaWorld and sparked public outrage.
“We will break out the champagne only when [SeaWorld] empty their tanks for good.”
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“I'm heartened by the news that SeaWorld may be retooling its circus act for Orcas but it remains to be seen what [orca] tricks they deem 'normal,' ” Psihoyos said.
Psihoyos said California's SeaWorld “was of course reacting to falling attendance and impending legislations that will eventually condemn all their dolphin acts but their announcement was cause for cautious celebration.”
Psihoyos was in Monaco last week for the Blue Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit, an annual eco showcase that alternates with St. Petersburg. Last year in St. Pete, Psihoyos sparked a debate on captive dolphins that included Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s David Yates.
At the time, Psihoyos said, “I think when you take any dolphin out of the wild, when you teach it to do tricks for our amusement, it says a lot more about our culture than it does theirs.”
In San Diego, SeaWorld execs project new orca “experiences that are more natural,” SeaWorld boss Joel Manby reportedly told Wall Street analysts.
“SeaWorld management have been forcing behaviors on Orcas in cramped tanks that have led to the deaths of trainers and caused orcas to mutilate and kill each other and their management claims this is normal,” Psihoyos said. “We will break out the champagne only when [SeaWorld] empty their tanks for good.”
» Captive breeding may be the last chance to save Florida's grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird. (Via Audubon)