Although SeaWorld Entertainment has decided to phase out stunts that involve trainers riding on dolphin’s dorsal fins and snouts, it denies treating dolphins like surfboards or bowing to activist pressure.
SeaWorld has been courting controversies ever since a 2013 documentary highlighted the miserable plights of dolphins, seals, sharks and polar bears that were held at the park.
The Blackfish documentary exposed the company’s exploitation of its animals in captivity and the resulting backlash from activist groups and bad press has apparently made the marine park consider changes to salvage its reputation.
In a recent announcement, SeaWorld said it was going to scrap ‘The Dolphin Days show’, in which performers ride two Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins at the same time by standing with each foot on one of the animal’s snouts or “rostrums.”
“[SeaWorld] no longer demonstrates ‘surfing’ at any of its locations, and plans to phase out the demonstration of standing on rostrums within the next few months, despite its belief that neither of these behaviors are harmful to the animals in any way,” said attorney Niyati Roy in a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Physical and emotional abuse
Peta, who is also a shareholder in SeaWorld, has been on the marine park’s case for subjecting animals to ‘circus style shows’ and presented a veterinary report and other evidence that confirmed how stunts physically and emotionally damaged these magnificent creatures.
“It’s unacceptable for smart, sensitive dolphins to be used as surfboards and launch pads in these cruel and demeaning stunts,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a statement.
“The very least that SeaWorld trainers can do for the miserable animals in their custody is not stand or ride on them, and PETA is taking action to end this practice immediately.”
After seaWorld announced its intention to end dolphin shows, PETA celebrated stating that it had succeeded in pressurizing the marine park to do away with its cruel performances. “Victory! SeaWorld has stopped treating dolphins like surfboards,” wrote PETA on its website.
People quoted PETA’s statement: “Following a months-long PETA campaign that included a damning veterinary report, a shareholder question asked by Alec Baldwin, numerous local ads, and more, SeaWorld admits in response to PETA’s latest shareholder proposal that it has stopped making trainers ride on dolphins’ backs and will soon end their practice of standing on dolphins’ faces in abhorrent circus-style shows. In response, PETA has withdrawn its shareholder proposal calling for an end to these cruel practices.”
While PETA claimed credit for the move, SeaWorld denied being influenced by the activist group and accused it of maligning the park in a statement: “SeaWorld is continually evolving its animal presentations to create the best experience for both guests and our animals.
“As an accredited zoological facility, our leadership solely determines the content and format of our presentations and is not influenced in any way by the actions of ill-informed activists, who are seemingly more interested in their profile and fundraising that they are the welfare of animals.”
However, animal lovers lauded the animal rights group and took to the group’s official account to celebrate the news.
“Amazing news! We can’t wait till they are completely free!’ wrote one user.
“Yes victory at last no more standing on dolphins,” commented another.
“Am super proud of you guys ??,” said a third.
- Read: Hong Kong theme park ends shocking dolphin and sea lion shows thanks to pressure from activists
Was PETA responsible behind Seaworld’s decision to stop dolphin surfing stunts? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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