David Kirby, author of Death at SeaWorld, recently reported an interesting twist in the world of captive cetaceans. Blackstone Group, who recently acquired SeaWorld, is one of the world's leading private equity firms. SeaWorld continues to celebrate, promote and profit from the confinement of whales and dolphins for entertainment purposes and criticizes the thought of retiring any of these animals to a coastal marine sanctuary.
In direct contrast, Merlin Entertainment group, another Blackstone holding, and it's aquarium division SEA LIFE, is adamantly opposed to keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. SEA LIFE aggressively supports the development of retirement sanctuaries. They have been outspoken in opposing the recent efforts by SeaWorld to import the 18 beluga whales for the purpose of public display.
Merlin is a UK-based attraction operator. Does that mean that Europe has more progressive views of releasing these animals than in the US? It surely appears to be so.
Janine DiGioacchino, divisional director of Merlin Entertainments (Midway) USA has bluntly stated that cetaceans are not suited for captivity. All leading authorities in the field, as well as the majority of American citizens, agree.
The National Aquarium also opposes SeaWorld's efforts, citing it's policy against capturing wild cetaceans "for any purpose".
Despite it's own policy, Merlin does have three marine parks with cetaceans in captivity, however they are making plans to develop a natural sanctuary where their animals and others from around the world can be re-homed, retired and if needed rehabilitated. They are working closely with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and Humane Society International to select a suitable warm waters sight for dolphins and eventually a suitable cold water sight for orcas and belugas.
Check out David's full article HERE
Do you think SeaWorld will feel pressured by opposition by it's sister company? Do you think Merlin should force change to SeaWorld?