Monday, April 28, 2008

It’s All Fun And Games Till There’s A Mid-Air Collision

If you haven’t heard about this yet, here’s the link to the story about the dolphin death at Discovery Cove yesterday. Discovery Cove is a smaller, “more intimate” theme park across the street from Sea World where tourists pay $280.00 to swim with dolphins and other less exciting creatures of the sea.

As you can see, it’s being dubbed a “freak accident,” apparently on the authority of

[This portion of the post is experiencing technical difficulties.]

It’s a wonder I’m still alive.

I realize this just happened, and I’m sure there will be follow up articles, but the only other one I could find as of this morning was this five sentence gem. The key sentence being:

The accident was apparently a freak accident.

I’m gonna step out of character here and say Sharky could’ve composed a more intelligent sentence.

Sea World will investigate the incident, and will be “looking into training protocols to make sure it doesn't happen again.” What they won’t be doing is contemplating the philosophical and moral implications of holding allegedly intelligent animals in captivity for the purpose of entertaining [reference redacted]. Look, I don’t rate animals above humans on the importance scale, but let’s not bullshit ourselves here. It doesn’t matter how cute they are, how friendly they appear to be, or how much you anthropomorphize them, dolphins are not magical water people. They’re wild animals and therefore unpredictable. Sea World knows this. That’s why they make Discovery Cove visitors sign a dolphin waiver before ever setting foot in the water.

I’m not saying Sharky was on a suicide mission or anything, but who knows? They’re animals, so we’ll never know. This or other “unusual” behavior can just as easily happen while people are swimming with them.

And I don’t care how much good Sea World has done over the years, they’re the biggest perpetrator of the dolphin myth, but even so, I don’t blame them. I blame everyone else who believes it. I don’t even have a problem with animals in captivity performing tricks as long as we don’t dress it up and pretend to be pursuing some loftier goal, like “awareness,” or “conservation.” Call it what it is. It’s entertainment, plain and simple. Dolphins are the A-listers of the animal world and they keep the money flowing. It doesn’t matter what kind of scientific research Sharky’s remains will be used for, that dolphin died in the name of showbiz and any other rationalization is just a lie.

Okay, I’m rambling, so enough of that. Tomorrow we’ll discuss something way more uplifting: Truck Nutz!


pjd said...

I don't even know where to begin. Though I am very much looking forward to truck nutz, about which I heard only the tail end on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on Saturday. From what I caught of the story, Floridians are, happily, expanding outside the realm of voting to prove how ridiculous they can be in many cultural areas.

Speaking of Floridians, are you in the Orlando area? I'll be there next week.

As to the whole dolphin thing... regrettable tragedy, and you're 100% correct that Sharky died in the name of showbiz. I'm fascinated by the media implications in this, which you point out: "’s being dubbed a 'freak accident,' apparently on the authority of park visitor Sean Gilligan...."

This is the kind of subtle erosion of the press that people barely notice. The reporter asked a non-expert for a quote. Non-expert said "freak accident." Reporter quotes, and suddenly it's in print and therefore Truth. What if Sean Gilligan had been the first person quoted in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001? "Just a freak accident, man." Actually, that might have been good for the world because I bet our Fearless Leader would have believed him and would have had to find some other justification for invading the wrong country, like Saddam Houssein being responsible for voter fraud in all the blue states.

I think I went off topic there, sorry.

Anyway, once again you've mixed biting social commentary with fearless and insightful wit, and I for one laughed my ass off.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Love your POV. And your insight. Or are they the same thing? It's Monday morning after all. And I haven't had any caffeine yet.

I love the animal rescue and rehabilitating dolphins and such that have been injured in the wild and need time to heal before being released. Or even the ones who can no longer live in the wild and get to 'retire' in captivity.

The penguin who got his form fitting wet suit is a great example. Here's a 25 yr old guy who's going bald and that damn water is too cold for his little pink butt. So they get a wet suit made just to fit him. And he's swimming more and his feathers are growing back, so they're weaning him off the suit.

Now this particular breed of penguin usually lives to be 20. So he's a really old geezer getting the special treatment. And he deserves it.

I support the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. They're not putting these beauties on display. They're giving them a wonderful place to retire to and roam the pastures and play in the ponds until they're ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. There's a webcam setup so you can see them if they happen to be in the area, but it's not like the elephants are aware of being put on display and doing tricks on command.

So why can't the same thing be done for marine life? Why are we allowing them to exploit an intelligent species of wild animal for personal profit?

And why can't some of the millions being spent on this damn presidential race be put towards some of these wonderful charities?

Geez. I think I should go back to bed.

ChrisEldin said...

BT, This is really sad. The story as well as the reporting.

This is the kind of subtle erosion of the press that people barely notice. The reporter asked a non-expert for a quote.
Couldn't have said this any better.

I feel like going on a soapbox. There's a lot of erosion of a lot of things. We now have the Homeland Security monster--is it really true 80 percent of the FBI is now being used to investigate H.S. issues? Neglecting organized crime, etc.

I think one of my upcoming writing exercises will be about a dystopia. The U.S. in five years.

I hope we get our country back.

Okay, off the soapbox. Sorry...

blogless troll said...

This is the kind of subtle erosion of the press that people barely notice. The reporter asked a non-expert for a quote...

I agree with Chris. You nailed it. That's what I was trying to get at, but couldn't find my way there.

Sarah, don't get me wrong. Sea World/Anheuser-Busch definitely does more good than harm, by a long shot. I guess it's a fine line as far as getting people interested in animal conservation and overselling the majesty of dolphins.

blogless troll said...

And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm getting an unusual number of hits from St. Louis, MO.

McKoala said...

This is a shocking episode, even without the disgraceful media input.

However, there's one thing missing from your hilariously harrowing report. 'Sharky'? What kind of a name is that for a dolphin?

Robin S. said...

I feel bad for Sharky. And I agree.

The hype hype hype is bullshit- call it what it is - entertainment and revenue-stream-bringer. Just be honest.

Does make me wonder if this was suicide of some sort - a sort of a pre-conscious thing.

Anonymous said...

These parks do a tremendous amount to open the eyes of so many people to the needs and concerns of so many animals. The people that work at these parks truely care for the animals they work with and take none of what happened lightly. The majority of the Sea World dolphins are now born there, not taken from the wild.
Do you realize how few people never even knew what a manatee was or how endangered it was until they visited the Orlando Sea World? Our country needs these parks to educate people even if it is through the "backdoor" method of entertainment.