SeaWorld set to “talk through the issue” of captive orcas

SeaWorld orca

Orcas at SeaWorld. Only in captivity are the fins on their backs folded over – another sign that something’s very wrong. Photo by Josh, flickr

Seems there’s a breakthrough in the making. As pressure increases on SeaWorld  since the release of the film Blackfish exposing details about its captive orcas. As the park continues to see serious drops in revenues from artists and tourist cancellations, it has decided it’s time to speak up. It announced that on June 5th a representative from SeaWorld will take on two prominent critics of the park to “talk through the issue” of keeping killer whales in captivity, according to Voice of San Diego, organizer of the unprecedented event that’s to be held at La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

“As far as we’ve seen, this will be the first time SeaWorld answers questions and offers its perspective directly to the public,” says Voice of San Diego’s website. Members of the general public will have an opportunity to grill a company rep and  two captivity critics: Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, and Susan Gray Davis, a former UC San Diego professor who wrote the 1997 book Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience.

Rose says the event offers an opportunity to contrast the two sides – one based on “ad hominem attacks and emphasizing jobs (when the debate is about animal welfare) and rhetorical flourishes” and the other based on “facts, empirical evidence, and ethics, in front of an audience that is directly affected by the economics involved.”

Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis and Lisa Halverstadt will co-moderate, and they’ll be taking questions from the audience by text. Save the date. This is an event to watch.

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