Should Whales be Held Captive?
We have very mixed feelings about keeping wild animals in captivity. Part of us love to see whales, part of us hate it. You?
This commentary started as a simple link to a one story about raising money to keep the Vancouver Aquarium's Whale Attractions open. It turned into much more. It turned into a personal story about a personal emotion.
I was probably ten years old when my feelings about keeping animals in captivity started to be evident to me. It was maybe the fifth or sixth timeI had been a Ringling Brothers Circus. The tents, the smell of the animals, the sounds, the light, and the smell of my uncle's cigar smoke combined to create an event that was so astonishing to me that I could not wait for next year.
The Smell Changes
It was on that last time I ever went to a circus Uncle Eddie and I passed by a guy getting a few horses to move from one pen into another. We both knew horses, me and Uncle Ed. We had them in stables on the property. We named them. We also didn't ever hit them on the shins to move them; we didn't poke them. We did not treat them the way that circus hand was treating them. He almost seemed to displike them. My uncle said "Hey! Don't let me see you do that shit again." The guy looked at Eddie, Eddie looked back, and the guy backed away. He was not poking that horse anymore (at least while we were watching).
That entire night I watched the animals. Every one - every elephant, every horse, for that matter every trick dog - were miserable. I could not stop seeing it. I remember that night like it was this past weekend - maybe better in some dark ways. The thing I remember most is the smell changing from cigar smoke and horse flesh to fear. And I stopped ever going to the circus again.
Many years later, I went to a Bullfight in Cali, Colombia. It was some famous Matador I remember. I also remember the smell of the anmial. That bull knew he was entering onto a dirt pen from which he would be carried dead. He hated us - but most of all he hated that matador. Of course the animal was heavily - heavily - drugged before the brave Matador bleed him out in that sand.
Whales in Captivity
The interesting thing to us is that while many people are fighting for the rights of the whale to be free, there is another equally active group trying to keep the Vancouver - and other Marine Aquariums - alive. Why? Research.
SeaWorld is a bid deal to us here in Florida. Shamu was the big draw. The Killer Whale (there were more than one of them actually) seemed happy to tourists. Behind the scenes, captive marine mammals attempt hard to kill themselves. If they were not contained tightly, they would run their heads into the walls until they died.
The Vancouver Aquarium;
This brings us to the Vancouver Aquarium. First, it seems that whales in captivity in Canada is coming to an end. The Vancouver aquarium is only one - they are all the targest of people that feel a lot like I do. That locking those ocean mammals into tight little pools is insane - and drives those beautiful conscious beings insane too.
The future of captive whales in Canada: From the Hufington Post Canada: The Sun Is Setting On Whale And Dolphin Captivity In Canada
The Vancouver Aquarium Bans New Whales: From the BBC: Vancouver bans whales and dolphins at aquarium
The Opposition enters the argument. From The Ottowa Metro Report: Vancouver captive whale ban a blow to conservation efforts: historian