The obvious choice for S is also one of San Diego’s most hotly debated attractions: SeaWorld.
As you probably already know if you’ve seen Blackfish (or, let’s face it, Free Willy), SeaWorld has recently been taking a lot of heat about their treatment of orcas, and their true intentions behind keeping them in captivity – particularly in such close proximity to killer whales swimming free in the Pacific Ocean.
Even Portlandia has gotten in on the act, with the return of the ineffective Ecoterrorists from season 4:
Skewering San Diegans’ predilections for fish tacos, beach parties and waterfront housing secretly funding more of SeaWorld’s evil empire (wait, is that one really a thing?), as well as the Ecoterrorists’ own ineptitude, the episode is hilariously spot on. Go stream it on Netflix right now if you haven’t seen it yet.
In the meantime, if you do still want to bring the family to SeaWorld, I guess it’s worth asking the question, “Are zoos and other edutainment facilities like SeaWorld helping animals or hurting them?”
Aquariums, for instance, typically have a more educational/research component to their collections. Does SeaWorld fit that mold, or is their interest in animals more exploitative – particularly with dolphins and orcas performing in shows on a daily basis? Are the animals at SeaWorld being nurtured or exploited?
I don’t think it’s quite as black and white as the orcas’ own skin, but it’s definitely a topic worth exploring. And if you feel that SeaWorld ought to end its program of orca captivity, please do sign this petition at Change.org.
SeaWorld is located at 500 Sea World Drive in Mission Bay.