Reassurance from SeaWorld

Facing a public backlash arising from a trainer's tragic death and accusations stemming from a highly publicized documentary, SeaWorld has launched emotional ads prior to the summer tourist season.  In these commercials, employees of the company stress their commitment to the killer whales, placing emphasis on their high level of medical and nutritional care; they also indicate that none of their orcas have been taken from the wild in recent decades and that the longevity of their captive killer whales matches that of their wild relatives.

Of course, the commercials do not mention the fact that most captive animals, removed from the stresses imposed by predation, malnutrition, disease and natural disasters, tend to live longer than they do in the wild.  Neither do they acknowledge that these large, intelligent creatures are confined to giant bathtubs for the course of their lives.

While modern zoos and aquariums play an important role in public education and place emphasis on conservation, the confinement of intelligent animals such as primates, elephants and cetaceans raises humanitarian concerns.  After all, as members of the animal kingdom ourselves, we humans are inclined to choose freedom (with all its uncertainties) over benevolent captivity.  Killer whales and dolphins deserve no less.