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Should We Stop Taking Our Kids to Animal Parks?

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The tragic death of a trainer at Sea World has us thinking ... should we stop taking our families to watch wild animals perform?

Sea World

Forty-year-old Dawn Brancheau died yesterday while working as a trainer at Sea World in Orlando. A massive 12,000 pound orca named Tillikum grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail and thrashed her to death in front of a horrified audience -- an audience that included kids. This particular whale is known to be aggressive, and has been responsible for two other deaths.

Tillikum was captured in the wild in Iceland back in 1983, and has been kept in small tanks for most of his life. Many marine biologists believe that he was under serious stress. "I'm sure it was a high stress situation," says Nancy Black, lead marine biologist at California's Monterey Bay Whale Watch. "Being kept in a small tank like that, especially because he was originally from the wild. I'm sure he had a hard life, kept in a holding pen, not getting a lot of exercise." The whale was used as stud in Sea World's breeding program since 1992. His frequent breeding -- he has sired at least 17 calves -- and high hormone levels may have also contributed to his aggressive behavior.

We've all been to zoos and wild animal parks to see up close and personal the wonders of nature. Sea World and other parks do great things for the environment and animal habitat -- they rehab sick and injured animals, and do research on how to save endangered species. But this seems as if it is a recipe for disaster -- capturing a wild animal and forcing it to perform three times a day, seven days a week for an audience of popcorn eating parents and families? No wonder think whale was aggressive! It's not in their nature to be jumping out of the water to the delighted oohs and aahs of an audience.

What do you think? Are these wild animal shows safe to take your family to?





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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Robin February 25, 2010, 12:01 PM

Yes, I will continue to go to these parks. This is such an unfortunate incident, however, it is a risk you take when you choose to work with animals that are not meant for captivity.

matt February 25, 2010, 12:36 PM

you failed to realize that the animals are in cages and tanks so unless you put your child in said cages and tanks then there is no harm

Mousuke February 25, 2010, 2:21 PM

The thing is that these are wild animals, and most species of whales are meant to travel great distances. A pod of orcas will travel 60 miles per day in the wild…take an animal out of their element and place it in an aquarium, and you are going to get a lot of built up aggression and boredom (which leads to aggression). No matter how large the tank, it will still be too small for an orca. I feel bad for the whale and feel that something should have been done after the first casualty.

tennmom February 25, 2010, 7:21 PM

Humans are the most arrogant creatures on Earth. God did say we could use animals as a protein source but I doubt he meant for them to be used as a source of entertainment.

Sherry February 26, 2010, 5:18 PM

It is not ” family fun ” for the sad creatures forced to perform for selfish humans.I am ashamed to admit that years ago I used to patronize zoos & circus’s. When I became properly informed I no longer took my children to such places. Most people will justify anything in order to avoid facing uncomfortable truths. It is easier to live life coasting through, not really THINKING. Because if you REALLY THINK about confining a giant whale in a swimming pool, then you start to feel guilty and gee..then your conscience won’t allow you go to Sea World anymore…and being selfish humans, you want to satisfy yourself . Even if that pleasure comes at the price of an innocent animal that cannot speak for itself………


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