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An Open Letter to Artists Playing at SeaWorld

UPDATED 3/16/15

I hear that you are going to be playing at SeaWorld’s Bands, Brew and BBQ this weekend. I’m sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding the park after the documentary Blackfish was released in 2013. You probably already know that for last year’s event, nine acts cancelled their performance. Perhaps this doesn’t bother you or maybe you don’t feel a film has any lasting effect, but the lies, abuse, mistreatment and controversy carry on beyond the film.

I have no doubt that you will be given a VIP tour while you are there. I can only imagine how it will go.

They will probably tell you about the 24,000 animals they have rescued. They might even show you the pilot whales they “rescued” in Dolphin Stadium. What they won’t tell you is that the adults in that rescue were euthanized when they could have potentially survived and cared for the little ones in the wild, who are now performing shows at SeaWorld. Check out the tiny tanks and flopped dorsal fins. They are only a few years old.

There was a dolphin death at the park a couple weeks ago, the second death in only a couple weeks. Ironically on the same day, SeaWorld announced they were temporarily closing the updated Dolphin Cove in order to fix a faulty pool surface. Was it coincidence? Was the faulty pool surface the cause of death for this poor dolphin?

Dolphin Cove is supposed to reopen this week, where SeaWorld will charge over twice as much for an interaction, but guests don’t feed the dolphins. Since you are a VIP, you might be able to feed them. Be careful, they bite! They have bitten at least two children in recent years, and both humans and dolphins have potential of contaminating each other.

Just because they look like they are smiling doesn’t mean they are happy. That is the way their mouth is shaped. Look into their eyes.

A typical trip to the Dolphin Nursery will display mothers-to-be and new mothers and babies swimming in endless circles. They might even fly up on the ledge in the middle of the pool for you because…what else do they have to do? It breaks up their day. The pregnant mothers are probably incredibly uncomfortable with nothing natural to rub on and ease their pain.

I’m sure they will show you their newest attraction, Antarctica, but they won’t tell you that they stole baby penguin chicks from their families in Antarctica as recently as 2011.

They say they don’t capture animals from the wild anymore and don’t have anything to do with the horrors in Taiji, but they were issued a permit for a Pacific White-Sided dolphin who was captive bred from Japan. Although the dolphin was captive bred, the parents are thought to be from the Taiji fisheries drive. Check out The Cove for more about the drive.

Wild Artic will be quieter than usual during your visit. After two polar bear deaths within a year they have finally given up that idea, but you can still watch the walrus do endless circles in the water while the small one chews on the rocks. Again, what else is there to do?

They have a shortage of belugas in Wild Arctic these days too after Nanuq died last month. They probably won’t tell you that he died from an infection after breaking his jaw in an altercation with another whale. I’ve never heard of that happening in the wild, have you?

And finally your big finale to Shamu Stadium. They might point out Katina, the matriarch female of the stadium, with her two calves. They won’t tell you about Katina’s five other calves. Three have already passed away and there is one each in their other parks in San Antonio and San Diego. They will neglect to tell you that killer whales stay with their mothers their entire lives in the wild.

They might tell you about their upcoming Blue World Project with bigger killer whale tanks, but they won’t tell you that killer whales in the wild swim up to 100 miles per day. The only appropriate Blue World is the ocean. They also won’t tell you that Blue World Project is a fancy way for them to breed more of their whales so they can supply the parks in their overseas expansion.

I’m sure SeaWorld will boast about how most of the killer whales in the park were born in their successful breeding program, but they won’t tell you about the 6 stillbirths, 2-3 miscarriages, 5 mothers who died during or shortly after giving birth, and their inbred calf. I’m sure they also won’t point out the fact that they are cross-breeding different subspecies which has no conservation value to wild animals.

They will probably tell you about their excellent veterinary care. I’d like to ask you to take a good look at the orcas teeth during your visit. Most have been hollowed out after being broken from chewing on the tanks and gates. Now they have to be flushed several times a day to prevent infection. Sure, killer whales in the wild don’t have veterinary care, but they don’t need it for this.

And you probably won’t see the stress the whales are put under to get a urine specimen.

You might hear them tell audiences that by being there today they are helping wild animals. They might even tell you they are giving money to help wild orcas. I’d love to know more about that because they never reveal details.

I’m sure SeaWorld is grateful to have you play there after having nine artists back out last year. I’m sure you are making six figures for only a one hour show. I’m not asking you not to play because I have no doubt you are in a strict contract and have been probably fed all the lies that SeaWorld tells their guests. I just want to ask you to go into the experience with an open mind.

For more information, you can listen to a radio interview that I did last year after so many other bands put their music before SeaWorld's shady practices.

Thank you for reading,

Heather Murphy

Editor, Ocean Advocate News

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