SeaWorld is evolving. Responding to public pressure, SeaWorld is no longer doing big flashy killer whale shows at its San Diego facility. And it has just announced that it will no longer breed killer whales, often called orcas, in captivity.
I’m evolving, too. About a decade ago I responded to a friendly invitation from a SeaWorld employee to visit one of the company’s facilities. The employee had enjoyed something I wrote and wanted to meet. There was no agenda. I was delighted by the various creatures — especially the flamingoes’ surprising friendliness — and I didn’t have strong feelings about the captive orcas. It all seemed interesting. It seemed clear to me that the folks who trained killer whales had deep respect and empathy. But the basis of captivity is rooted in, at best, a compromise: our interests over theirs.