This spring I travelled south to Mexico to be in a friend’s wedding. It. Was. Fabulous. The beaches, the sun, the food, the friends- it all added up to an amazing vacation.
In addition to the wedding events, the hosting resort also offered a number of fun excursions and on-site activities, including a Dolphinarium. Although the new Dolphinarium was apparently a huge draw to this particular resort, I couldn’t in good conscience partake in the experience.
My Facebook feed has actually hosted dozens of friends and family photos of their own dolphin swimming experiences from their various tropical vacations and I’ll admit: it looks rad. Dolphins are incredible creatures and it seems like fairy tale-fun to actually be able to join them in the water, receiving kisses and having them propel you around the… tank.
The Dolphinarium at my resort didn’t use a tank per se. It was more of a netted barricade off a pier in the ocean. Apparently “dolphins don’t need that much space” and “they enjoy being together in that environment.”
Yeah. I remain skeptical.
The new documentary Blackfish, which exposes a tragedy at SeaWorld, is raising eyebrows and awareness about the issues of holding sea creatures in captivity for our entertainment. All I keep thinking is “Um, hello? Am I the only one who remembers Free Willy?” That movie scarred me for life. Don’t you guys remember the ending? His hump never goes back to normal! We ruined it forever.
Since growing up in a small town in Southern Ontario, I, like just about every person in Niagara, can still sing the theme song for Marineland. It was a popular spot for the elementary school’s end-of-year trip and the shows and rides were tonnes of fun when I was little. Yet by the time I saw Free Willy in grade four, I was mature enough to question the issues and decide that it wasn’t a place I was interested in visiting again. And when my family had a Florida vacation when I was in grade nine, SeaWorld didn’t make the agenda. However, on a spring break trip to Chicago a few years ago, my pals convinced me to go to the Shedd Aquarium. Though I was reluctant, I tried to enjoy the experience by focusing on Shedd’s education and conservation efforts.
For the record, I fully support rehabilitative facilities for animals. I even support teaching and research zoos and aquatic centres. I’m clearly not an expert on the needs of animals and don’t claim to be. What I can’t get behind is the pure entertainment aspect.
Can someone please explain to me how it’s okay? Because I don’t get it.