On air: Should animals be kept for our entertainment?

This would have been our topic yesterday if we hadn’t had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Prof Sandel. And it hasn’t gone away as a talking point. Here’s the original post:

Hi I’m Ed, I’m an International Journalism Masters student at UCF helping produce today’s WHYS show.

It’s one of the most popular stories on our BBC website right now and it’s being reported right around the world as you can see here, here and here.

A female trainer has died after being attacked by a killer whale at Sea World in Florida.

It brings up the question is it right to keep animals, particularly wild ones, in captivity for our own entertainment?

PETA, the leading animal rights organization claims there are thousands of animals being kept in cages around the world.

And it’s not just zoos and circuses; animals are being kept in all different types of environments.

Are we saving these animals from extinction?

Is it justified to keep a whale used to swimming through vast oceans in a small aquarium so that it can perform tricks for children?

This blogger h8orated grew up in San Diego, another Sea World city, and was wondering how long it would take before such an incident happenned.

There is already much online comment about the use of animals in circuses and whether it should continue in this day and age.

But in Malta the Animal Welfare Department director Mario Spiteri claims circuses are not cruel to animals.

Should animals be taken out of their natural habitat for our entertainment?

148 Responses to “On air: Should animals be kept for our entertainment?”

  1. 1 James Loudermilk
    February 25, 2010 at 14:23


    • 2 SUMMER
      February 26, 2010 at 19:39

      From going to zoos and safari’s all around the world, I’ve found that the animals are treated poorly. Especially in the U.S., living in the Pacific Northwest I’ve found that the animals are usually kept in a small cage. I went to a Bandon Wildlife Safari on the Oregon coast and they had two fully grown black bears kept away from the public by a simple electric fence. The cage was maybe 20ft by 15ft. is that enough room for two black bears? No. Every zoo I go to or wildlife safari I find disgusting, the animals are poorly treated. We have to understand that these animals have natural instincts that we will never understand, they need to be kept in their natural habitats, and we should do everything we can to help maintain their natural habitats. However, animals that are endangered I feel that it is our responsibility to keep them in captivity and breed them until their numbers thrive again. Any animal that is kept in captivity where food is given to them where they do not have to hunt for their food should not be released back out in the wild because they do not have the ability to hunt. Its like they are domesticated. For example Keiko, he was released out in the wild and he died a year later he had no experience hunting for food in the wild. If we have to keep animals in captivity they should have to hunt for their food and be given live food.

    • 3 aviatorbdm
      February 26, 2010 at 20:05

      Unfortunately for every SeaWorld who try to educate the public there are zoo’s and other organizations similar to SeaWorld that do NOT treat their animals very well, or simply keep them in very poor conditions.

  2. 4 strawbean
    February 25, 2010 at 14:45

    they should never be used. fact.

  3. 5 K.Vishwanath
    February 25, 2010 at 14:46

    I fully endorse the view that animals should be kept out of entertainment. Animals should be allowed to grow, live, breed and die in their natural habitat and we humans have no right to imprison them. All zoos, circus which restrict the freedom of animals should be banned. We can know about all animals through channels like National Geographic, Animal Planets, etc. Also birds which have the God given gift of flying should never be caged. I being a vegetarian feel strongly against animal slaughtering. I am of the opinion that animals should be given some sort of anasthesia if they have to be butchered for food.

  4. 6 Peter Gizzi UK
    February 25, 2010 at 15:08

    It is the public who go to be entertained who make this practice worthwhile. It should not happen. I have no pets as I’ve given due consideration to having one. Many do not.

    With the exception of animals bread in captivity to be realeased into the wild I question the keeping of any animals. I do though eat meat but hope those are cared for during their lives.

  5. 7 Kate M.
    February 25, 2010 at 15:22

    No. No. No. Circuses and shows like the ones SeaWorld put on are awful. The negative effects on the animals are well documented. I suggest everyone go to the Humane Society website and see for themselves.

    • 8 DKing
      February 26, 2010 at 19:08

      My family went to Seaworld in San Diego, once. The reason you could “pet” the dolphins was they couldn’t get away from you. They were in a tank and you could reach about a foot into their tank and touch them. How horrible not to be able to escape.

      We saw the killer whale show. My husband, who was not a member of PETA or another “animal” group asked me if I thought there was a way we could get the whale out of the tank and back into the ocean. Not as an act of terrorism, not physcially, but through writing campgains and other political pressure.

      I don’t think Aquariums keep killer whales. I’ve visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Long Beach Aquarium and Vancouver Aquarium. It was a completely different experience, one in which respect was shown for the animals and they weren’t treated like trained dogs.

      I don’t think these beautiful whales should be anywhere but the ocean. They need a much larger space in order to live like whales. Unless a zoo or aquarium is serving as some kind of “ark” to preserve them – let them be wild.

    February 25, 2010 at 15:25

    I would prefer animals to live in their natural habitat. This though is not possible for some animals in the mordern world due to poaching and other vises subjected to animal world.

    It is okay to have animals entertain people as long as first the welfare of the said animals is provided and supportive bearing in mind that such animals can no longer make it in the wild again without getting endangered. On the other hand there should be protection for both handlers and audience.

    One death should not cause alarm. Probably this was an overzealous handler. Even people are not safe to handle.

  7. 10 patti in cape coral
    February 25, 2010 at 15:25

    I don’t think animals were meant to entertain us, but a lot of zoos are involved in conservation work. I do keep pets, a cat and a dog. My daughter was involved in a group when she was in high school that looked for people who would adopt animals before they were put to sleep, and she begged me to take a dog who was two days away from being put to sleep. The cat was a very young stray that was in pretty bad shape when he followed my niece home, but she is allergic to cats. I felt that adopting them and giving them a good home was the lesser of two evils. Do I wish I could just let them run free? Absolutely, but I live on a very busy street, and I’m pretty sure I live in the road kill capital of the world.

  8. 11 SAAD
    February 25, 2010 at 15:37

    Entertainment at the cost of live could be an act of foolish.

  9. 13 steve
    February 25, 2010 at 15:43

    By keeping some in captivity, it can create an interest in the animal, so that if it were becoming endangered, people would have exposure to them and be more likely to do something… Rather then them hearing about something they have never even seen before. It’s called a Killer Whale. That’s why it has that name. There are risks, and unfortunately she was killed.

  10. 14 gary indiana
    February 25, 2010 at 15:53

    Once I went to a very large zoo, where I saw orangutans. They acted in a way I’d myself acted. After a minute or two it dawned on me. They where unmistakably embarrassed. I turned to my wife and said “Let’s go from this place and never return.” We never have.

  11. 15 Colin L Beadon
    February 25, 2010 at 15:54

    First of all, I’m very Pro Life. All Life, that is. All. All.All.
    But humanity faces a problem. As our world population expands, and it is expanding exponentialy, almost all other wild species will shrink the same way. The bigger the human water, food, and agricultural land demand becomes, the deeper the plight of the natural world. This should be obvious to everybody who has ever sat down and thought just a little bit.
    So, if we really love wild life, and never want to live without being able to live amongst it, then we need to keep it in the largest parks and zoos we can manage, and shoot any poachers we find.
    We are going to have to be absolutely resolute about this control. If you don’t believe this, then you are not listening to the far too frequent wild life reports on species decline, animals, birds, fish, and plants.
    Other than that,… and we are coming to this point very soon enough,… there won’t be any wild nature in most of the Earth.
    Luckily, I’m old enough never to have to see that.

  12. 16 Jennifer From Albany, NY
    February 25, 2010 at 16:21

    There is a difference between a sideshow Zoo, that keeps a few animals in cages and never allows them to be free, or in a natural habitat and Sea World. I grew up in South Florida, and have been to Sea World many times. As my animal rights knowledge grows, I have read literature and seen pictures of what happens to animals that are kept in Zoo’s. I have also seen what a Sea World team is capable of when they show up to assist a beached whale, or an injured manatee. Sea World is not a typical Zoo. It is also a research facility. A rescue team and a marina wild life advocate. Do they make money by keeping animals confined for entertainment YES. Is that a sad fact, Yes. I’m not sure they would be the institution that they are, if they didn’t.
    Steve is correct…they are called Killer Whales. Also, they are animals and should never be treated as anything else, even the best trained domestic dog, can bite, if given a reason. Any animal is capable of that, and it is sad that this trainer was killed. But she chose that profession. She knew the risks, and, if she is anything of an adventurer, which she must be to professionally work with Killer Whales, I’m sure she would rather have died that way, than sitting on her couch. I think Zoo’s are not necessary in this age in intelligence and technology…….. But Sea World is so much more than a Zoo. I do not have the answer here. I protest and campaign for the liberation of Zoo animals. (Btw…zoo’s are also different from Circuses, which are cruel and barbaric, and should never be attended by anyone that cares about animals) But, Sea World, as an institution, does a great deal for marine life, I’m not sure they should be lumped into the Zoo category. Should we get rid of Zoo’s, absolutely, Sea World, I’m not so sure.

  13. 17 Barbara
    February 25, 2010 at 16:26

    What if was the other way around? Would anyone out there want to be captive and trained with cruelty to perform? I think not. I do hope this whale will not be put down. Just because they have no voice to speak their feelings, doesn’t mean that animals don’t have feelings. Until humans respect Mother Nature, this will continue to happen.

  14. February 25, 2010 at 16:29

    Come on guys! This is a loaded question! A rather “humerious” one at that!

    Of course Animals should not be kept for our “Entertainment”! But we are not playing dress up and house with these Animals, we are going to Zoo’s to learn about them, to understand them. Seaworld teaches kids and adults about Whales, Dolphins and marine life. Zoo’s teach kids and adults about wild life. This is about understanding our world, understanding the creatures we cohabitate this world with.

    Should kids go to africa and go up close to a lion? Should kids go swimming with Killer whales?

    Being close to these creatures humanizes them for children, makes them more real so that they grow up more tolerant and compassionate to these animals.

    As long as these Animals are well cared for, I see no problem. Especially seeing as most of these Animals know only that life, and are usually animals that would have been dead if not for these places.


  15. 19 Andrew in Australia
    February 25, 2010 at 16:56

    Why do we feel that we have the moral right, the exclusive right to do so, animals for entertainment or experimentation, for fun or convenience?

    OK if we must then let us eat them, other species do predate, but must we torment them as much as we do and for what, so that the ignorant out there can gain some entertainment from them. That encapsulates what Peter Singer says describes as our specism.

    We have a dismal record of respect for non human species.. well even with humans (look around) and we should make ammends.

  16. 20 Andrew in Australia
    February 25, 2010 at 17:02

    As for zoos, they provide some value, but why were they initially created… not for very altruistic reasons and now they lend some legitimacy for their existence by the education and conservation apsects they purport. Those involved with them no doubt believe in what they do, but face it, they derive their funding from displaying non human animals for our entertainment and what will kids learn… it is OK to treat animals as specimens and objects of fun. Less than us they don’t deserve to live their lives free and unmolested.

    There should be no need for zoos, we should not be destroying their habitats for our greed and exploitation.

  17. 21 landshark
    February 25, 2010 at 17:04


    It’s selfish and cruel to cage animals! When an animal needs to be cared for by us, we should do so and return that animal to the wild as soon as possible. If that can’t be done then they should be put down. It would be less cruel than keeping them caged for years.

  18. 22 Denise in Chicago
    February 25, 2010 at 17:43

    Using animals for entertainment (or sport) is obscene. Author/civil rights advocate Alice Walker said it best – “Animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”

  19. 23 Anthony
    February 25, 2010 at 17:44

    Oh please, all these people’s points are just liberal hypocrites. You’ve never taken any medication or products that were tested on animals? Please. Thank a dog who died for your grandpa’s heart surgery.

    As far as the entertainment aspect, do you think anyone would care about the whaling, and destruction of natural habitats if they didn’t see and hear about the destruction at Sea World or the Zoo? Think back as to why you care so much, it’s because you at some point saw one of these majestic animals up close as a kid, and decided that they are worth saving.


    -Anthony, LA, CA

  20. February 25, 2010 at 18:01

    ‘The Whale apparently felt imprisoned and the trainers were the guards. They gained each others trust, but for different reasons. Whales are smart and when he realized this wasn’t a game, and couldn’t leave, plotted an escape. The whale did not snap–the whale felt the trainer was blocking his freedom.

    Killer Whales should not be kept in cages and placed on display. News reports indicate that three people have now died as a result of this whale being kept under these conditions. therefore, human life for profit should not be used under these conditions. Many animals can be trained, but a killer whale is not one of them. The whale should be returned to it’s natural habitat immediately and Sea World should find another source of entertainment.

  21. 25 teej
    February 25, 2010 at 18:10

    Well, lets face it, we are not treating the animals in a much different way from the way we treat fellow humans. Many in the public eye are indeed in a gilded cage, forced to live unnaturally in order to provide entertainment.
    No we should not, though like many above i have benefited by observing animals in Zoo’s and safari parks as a child and do believe it is those intimate experiences that have contributed to my empathy and respect for other species.

  22. 26 Alan in AZ
    February 25, 2010 at 18:37

    I spent my early years in Florida a 100 meters from the shore and we went to the Gulfarium ( a small Sea World type park) regularly and I loved the shows and the Aquarium. I was so innocent!

    After a couple of years in the Military I ended up in Juneau Alaska. During certain times of the year you can see whales breaching just off the shore on the inside passage. They are so beautiful!

    Since then I’ve had the chance to visit the Sea Worlds in San Diego and San Antonio. Both times I was heart broken watching the animals perform. Yes it’s great for the kids, but so wrong for the Animals. It’s one thing having a small fish in a huge tank that may seem as big as a ocean. It’s another to put a huge mammal in a small pool and say “Back Flip Please”! I would imagine it would be like playing acting in a glass enclosure in downtown London for years on end, when life was meant to have you exploring London and it’s surrounding areas.

    No matter how good the food is, a pool is still a prison. If they will not free them at least give them lots of room.

  23. 27 tektwo
    February 25, 2010 at 18:45

    @Andrew in Australia

    First off, i have great respect for your opinions. But, I dont think Zoo’s are teaching kids its ok to treat animals as “Specimens” and “Objects of fun”… The people who show kids these Animals in zoo’s are usually students of these animals and have the highest of respect for these creatures. I do not know what Zoo you have visited, but in my experience the Zoo’s first and foremost priority is study and research and supports this by displaying them for people to view and learn from them.

    These Animals are not just puled out of the wild, taught to play fetch and sit… They are usually Animals who would have died, or are on the verge of extinction if not for the Zoo taking care of them.

    These are museums for the living, teaching us the value of our world and the value of all life that inhabits it.

    Andrew From NY (Not the one from Australia)

  24. 28 subra
    February 25, 2010 at 18:54

    Animals in open zoos are kept in almost their natural habitat. and they are protected and fed decently. They are treated in the best way possible.
    In the wild they would be torn to pieces, especially the gregarious ones where the strongest becomes the troup’s leader. When they are old they suffer a lot and they can’t hunt for their food.
    Not many can go and admire the killer whale in the deep sea so at sea world many can see them by paying a small fee.
    In Africa we can go in a safari park for admiring lions, elephants but at what exorbitant costs.

  25. 29 tektwo
    February 25, 2010 at 19:07

    @Alan in AZ

    I understand your point, believe me i do. I love Animals, i cringe at having to keep my dog in a crate under the seat on a airplane. I feel really guilty. But those performing tanks are not always the same as the tanks those animals live in. I also think there is a bigger picture here. These places, Seaworld, Zoo’s are the places kids go to want to become the Animals Conservationists, the Marine Bioligists etc. This is where research is done, where we learn how to help these creatures.

    The people who train these animals and ask them to perform love these “huge mammals”… They often dedicate there careers to just a handful of them. I have seen the playful glint of Dolphins and even some killer whales expressed to these people. I do not think the Whales or these mammals see it the way you do.

    You will always find the exception to these rules, or the odd abuse that occurs, but nature is far crueler then we can ever be. On the whole these Animals live longer, are fed better and live better than natures counter parts.

    This is about knowledge, knowledge that tomorrow will help save the very species we are studying today.


  26. 30 Renfreu Neff
    February 25, 2010 at 19:24

    Can’t say Sea World & other “entertainments” like them weren’t warned. They don’t call them “killer whales” for nothing.

  27. 31 MEERA
    February 25, 2010 at 19:41

    There are two ways of looking at this

    1 Animals which are badly treated, kept hungry unless they perform
    this should be banned. But how? Quite a few circuses as well as
    performers trying to make money out of animals do so;

    Should be penalised, fined and banned from handling animals.

    2, The cats, dogs, birds etc and many other animals abandoned or
    living in misery – if someone who loves animals and makes them do
    a few tricks for pleasure without inflicting pain – why not?
    Hopefully people may give some donations etc to look after them

  28. 32 Alan in AZ
    February 25, 2010 at 20:15

    @ Andrew

    I agree with the research aspects as long as they are humane. Unfortunately there are abuses. It is sad when we cage our animals that are use to having the run of a larger area.

    I do think that a creature as large as an Orca, should have much more room to swim. It’s just not financially possible to close off an entire bay, though it would be the best thing.

    As for the people who care for all of the animals. I know they love them as much as I do my animals. But they have little control over how funds are spent on the animals for show or research purposes. If they did, I’m sure many things would be very different for the animals.

    • 33 subra
      February 26, 2010 at 18:53

      Broadly speaking, even if you are keeping an animal at home may be argued to be detached from its natural habitat– your pet dog isn’t free to hunt for its food chasing its prey or the cat demonstrating its killer instinct, playing with the mouse cruelly before killing it.

  29. 34 T
    February 25, 2010 at 23:46

    No, and for a few reasons.

    How would YOU feel if you were in a cage and on display all day long? Also, there are some animal therapists that are treating them for depression by giving them various meds. Let them be free and happy in an open environment. The cost of vet care goes down. And everyone benefits.

  30. 35 Kindi Jallow
    February 26, 2010 at 02:17

    Animals said to be kept for entertainment ended up sadly with a horrible aand tragic scenaro. The lessons to be learnt from this scene is that Unpredictability. Such risky things In opinion should not be licenced.

  31. February 26, 2010 at 12:10

    We humans have always been fascinated by other animals. It is bred in the bone. The first mesmerizing web cam was a watering hole in Africa.

    I believe in the (perhaps distant) future, when we all realize how amazing it is to have A LIFE, we will learn to treasure every living thing.

  32. 37 Vijay Pillai
    February 26, 2010 at 12:18

    It is a like asking should cats and dogs be kept in homes as pets and for people’s use? or abuse as the case of animal fight watched by people?
    should WHYS be there at all for others around the world to make comment at all?
    Man has used animals all their life either for entertainement or any other use.Humans have learned from animals.I observed many variety birds hunt for food in pairs,just like humans walk in pairs after marrige or a lovers or other normal reasons? Wrights brothers learned to fly watching birds.
    Many poor would be starving if not for the entertainement they bring to tourists in india for instance earning a living.
    Cruelity to humans caged for labour and prostitution need more exposure than occational accidents which the trainer know that it was a dangerous job knowing from the name-killer whale. sorry for the mishab but we humans need humility by learning the astonishing variety of skills these animals bring to the children of the world as well as the adults.
    cruelty to animals need to be monitored but educational value of entertainement should be weighed in favour while safety of those emplyed must be improved.

  33. 38 Maxine
    February 26, 2010 at 12:23

    I have been several times to Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Park in Australia. Steve was a most passionate Wildlife conservationist, recognized world wide for his ethical, passionate and educated care of wildlife. At the Wildlife Park you can see many animals from Koalas to elephants. One of Greenpeace’s ships is named the Steve Irwin in honor of this man’s contribution to promotion and care for all animals. Sadly he was killed in an accident three years ago and Australia mourned him with our Prime Minister attending his funereal along with many thousands of other people. I will take my stand with Steve Irwin regarding what is best for our precious animals.

  34. 39 Vijay Pillai
    February 26, 2010 at 12:33

    Life in india or for that matter in africa would be at an end if we dont use animals fro food producion,transport or milk or whatever.Dont kill animals for meat. More people killed in a day by bad driving in india than occationaly mishap in a pool killing by animal ? Have humans stoped driving or flying just because there were few accidents? Life is full of risk whether crossing a road or climbing up a ladder if there are no safety rules observed but risk to humans by these animals must be low .

  35. 40 Nigel
    February 26, 2010 at 13:31

    We must remember that regardless of what we as humans want to think, and no matter how good we feel when we “bond” with wild animals, these are animals who have not been able to intellectualize their instincts. They have no human emotions and fire only by instincts that we cannot control. This is a sad affair but has its roots in the good and honest belief of the trainers that these animals are their friends and they “share” something, and of course the old need of the theme parks to make huge amounts of money. Send the animals back to their natural environment.

  36. 41 patti in cape coral
    February 26, 2010 at 13:56

    Zoos don’t appear to abuse their animals, although there doesn’t seem to be enough space for the bigger animals. The one thing I would like to ban, however, is animals in circuses. I have seen first hand the abuse these animals suffer and there is no way to justify it.

  37. 42 Frank in the USA
    February 26, 2010 at 13:58

    Animals belong where nature put them, and that extends to pets. Large dogs don’t belong on a leash and locked up in a house all their lives, fish don’t belong in a bowl, birds don’t belong in a cage, same with rabbits, hamsters etc. We humans need to evolve and start respecting all forms of life, Living things are not toys. This is a Neanderthal mindset that should have gone out with the 19th century.

  38. 43 Roy, Washington DC
    February 26, 2010 at 14:14

    Keeping someone (or something) as a slave for 25 years might not be too good for its sanity. Tilikum was a slave. This is different than, for instance, a cat or dog that you mutually bond with. I also don’t buy the argument that this sort of thing is for “conservation”; the fact that crowds of people flock to watch the animal do tricks negates that.

    Last night, someone on CNN mentioned that Tilikum was captured in the wild in 1983, and they likened it to confining a human to a bathtub.

  39. 44 Subhash C mehta
    February 26, 2010 at 14:18

    If we can spend billions on the study/researches/ protection/cure of various species of animal, we certainly are entitled (with discretionary limits) to use a small portion of those species for entertainment and/or educational purposes of children, animal-lovers and tourists.

  40. 45 patti in cape coral
    February 26, 2010 at 14:51

    I think I saw this in a movie once, but instead of making zoos and aquariums, why don’t we just make impenetrable clear tubes that extend into the wild, or the oceans, and we could walk through these tubes to see the animals? Of course, this means we would have to travel outside the inner cities to see them, but wouldn’t it be worth it?

  41. 46 edjkiernan
    February 26, 2010 at 14:53

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you so much for your comments. Many interesting points being made here.

    A lot of you are opposed to animals being kept in captivity for any reason.

    How do you feel about animal sanctuaries that help to save and rehabilitate animals? Many charge fees for visitors to come and watch, feed, and touch these animals.

    Is this entertainment? The fees help to fund these sanctuaries allowing them to continue their work. Is this acceptable as long as the animals are released back into the wild?

  42. February 26, 2010 at 15:39

    I think we should all read Colin L Beadon’s post.A lot of people want animals to run wild,a very noble sentiment.But the way things are going there will be very little wild left to roam.Agriculture is advancing rapidly,bio-fuels will use more wild habitat of poorer quality.The people who run a zoo do care for their animals,and very much so.Circus I could well live without.The alternative is bigger wild life parks,with the inevitable cull,zoos and sanctuarys and a lot more education.How do you tell someone he can’t grow food because the animals need to run wild?

  43. 48 Guido, Vienna
    February 26, 2010 at 15:42

    We should talk so much about the reason, food is at least in Europe not a better reason then entertainment. Important is how we treat animals. In my opinion pets are acceptable as long as they are treated “humane”, most ways to produce meet definitely not.

  44. 49 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 26, 2010 at 15:43

    The animals we eat (cows, pigs, poultry, etc.) and that we keep for our amusement (dogs, cats, guinea pigs, etc.) are not endangered. Virtually all primate species (our closet animal relatives) are endangered, as are many thousands of non-primate species.

    Keeping animals in the wild, not keeping domestic pets and not eating meat will not protect endangered animals as long as humans continue to destroy their habitats, and as long as humans poach endangered species for the illegal pet trade.

    As for K.Vishwanath’s statement above that he is of the opinion that animals should be given some sort of anasthesia if they have to be butchered for food, he has obviously never heard of Dr. Temple Grandin, who has revolutionized slaughterhouses in a humane way. A large (over a third) and growing number of new slaughterhouses in the USA were built to her design. The animals are channeled in a way that causes them no fear and when they are killed they literally don’t know what hit them.

    I am an animal lover myself (I’ve had my tortoises for over 35 years and they are thriving, thank you very much) but it’s time for people to get real. Anthropomorphizing animals will do them no good, nor will hand-wringing. Until humans change their behaviour towards animals (like building humane slaughterhouses) the extinction rate will continue to grow and animal diversity will continue to decline.

  45. 50 John in Salem
    February 26, 2010 at 15:59

    As others here have noted there are different reasons for keeping animals in captivity. Injured or orphaned young that are rescued and cannot be returned to the wild can be kept in accredited zoos and displayed to educate people. Species like the California condor have been saved from extinction by being kept and bred in captivity and successfully reintroduced to the wild.
    But training animals to perform tricks for our amusement – including those that have been born in captivity – only teaches disrespect. It reinforces the anthropocentric attitude of “higher” and “lower” forms of life – with it’s implication of relative values – and the notion that we have somehow been “put” here and are fundamentally unique and unrelated to the natural world.

    • 51 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
      February 26, 2010 at 17:09

      @John, what you say here reminds me of something that happened during our cruise to Alaska.

      While we were in Sitka, we visited the Alaska Raptor Center, which rescues and rehabilitates bald eagles, owls, and other wild birds that have been injured . The public is allowed to view them under very controlled conditions; what a thrill to see these amazing birds from so close.

      Later in the afternoon, as we strolled around the lovely town of Sitka, we noticed a raven sitting beside a nearby tree. As we approached, he flew up to a branch overhanging the sidewalk. Out of sheer silliness, I called out, “Hello!” to him, and to our surprise, the raven croaked back, “Hello!”

      From rescued bald eagles to self-taught speaking ravens, it was quite an experience, and one that reinforced for me the connection between humans and animals.

      Every day, humans entertain the animals, and they entertain us, without a zoo or aquarium in sight. It’s part of the natural cycle of things.

      The real issue for me is, should human beings exploit animals? It’s a much bigger question than a single orca in a theme park.

  46. 52 Alex-Nairobi
    February 26, 2010 at 16:15

    On the surface, i find it easy to say that it is ok to keep animals for entertainment provided they are kept in conditions as natural as possible. But then i realize that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to provide the animals with an environment similar to the natural. Think of the food, the landscape, the freedom and all. We just can’t provide the animals with anything similar to their natural environment. Maybe we should keep them for entertainment. Or maybe we shouldn’t.

  47. 53 Linda from Italy
    February 26, 2010 at 16:23

    Humans have always exploited animals one way and another, hunting for food then selectively breeding for farms and for transport. That that can be justified as necessary for survival when there were no other options, as is livestock farming (within humane organic/free range limits) today.
    However, killing animals for sport, zoos that cage animals, and above all, circuses of any description, and these sea-life places are nothing more than a variation on a circus, are inexcusable.
    Do we not we live a high-tech world of virtual this that and the other? Our human to human relationships are increasingly conducted online, so why on earth do we need to get up close and personal with wild animals just to learn about them? I’ve never been within miles of a whale, but what I have read and seen on film about these amazing animals is enough to engage my imagination, interest and awe. Let the poor whales loose, (but out of the hands of the Japanese and their “scientific” murder) as apart from anything else, they are social animals that belong in a natural group not cooped up in isolation.
    BTW before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy, I do eat meat and dairy products (in moderation) and share my home with 33 cats, all abandoned strays and all neutered to prevent more unwanted kittens.

    • February 26, 2010 at 18:24

      Linda,it’ a good job that someone got “up close and peronal with animals”.If they hadn’t you would not be able to read about them or watch videos and learn;would you?

      • 55 Linda from Italy
        February 26, 2010 at 19:11

        Point taken David, but the occasional naturalist of the Attenborough variety is not quite the same as crowds of baying popcorn stuffing morons.
        Also, like time I looked, naturalists don’t imprison the wild animals in question, althougn of course the film crew may frighten the horses on occasion!

  48. 56 Linda from Italy
    February 26, 2010 at 16:27

    Once upon a time circuses included human “freak shows” (The Elephant Man anyone?), which we eventually grew out of, how about affording the same dignity to animals?

  49. 57 Kate M.
    February 26, 2010 at 16:30

    There are quite a few zoos and aquariums that do rehabilitation work. I live in Florida and we have had an unusually cold winter. The marine life here cannot handle the cold for long. Zoos and aquariums all over the state are taking in sea turtles, manatees, etc. in hopes that they can be brought back to health and sent back into the wild. That is an example of a zoo or aquarium helping. I find nothing wrong with charging the public to view these animals. It gives us a chance to see animals we might never see.
    However, taking a healthy animal from the wild and keeping it in a tiny tank or cage where it is forced to perform tricks all day for profit is very different. They way animals are abused in circuses is not justifiable.

  50. 58 Guido, Vienna
    February 26, 2010 at 16:48

    As some of you see the protection of species as an example, I would ask you to think about the difference between protection of species and animal rights.

    To protect species it is often necessary to kill all animals that are not native in the habitat, this is unacceptable in terms of animal rights.

  51. 59 Tamatoa from Zurich
    February 26, 2010 at 17:13

    I’m not sure. But I want to share some thoughts with you.
    On the one hand looking at animals in the zoo is educational, entertaining but also very humbling. Realizing what wonders God or nature has produced. and staring at it in awe. I think that’s a good thing.

    Keeping animals in the circus is not appropriate anymore.
    But I’m not sure how far we can go in zoos. Especially birds or tigers need a lot of space. I don’t know any happiness-scale for animals.

    We could also say that animals in zoos can raise awareness so that we can protect them. So we could say that a few suffer for the good of the whole species.

    What about evolution? If we believe in the survival of the fittest we dont have to or even should care about other animals/inhabitants.

    We must always keep in mind that they are animals. We can’t treat them “humane” because their not humans. They don’t think about themselves and are emotionally and intellectually extremely limited compared to humans. Humans made civilizations in 6000 years. Animals virtually nothing.

    As a footnote: They built a two-footballpitch long komplex for animals of the Madagaskar-rainforest in the Zurich zoo. It’s a great reproduction of that rainforest. Animals should feel at home. But now, I can’t see them anymore because they usually only come out at dusk or else stay hidden….what’s the point of that?

  52. February 26, 2010 at 17:33

    If humanity wants to save whales from extinction it’s really quite simple, we need to stop living in the destructive way we live. Corporations and big business need to stop dumping toxins into the seas, plastics need to stop being produced, greenhouse gases need to stop being emitted. If humanity does that they will save the whales. Putting whales into giant pools and calling it conservation is a big joke. Especially when you look at all of the pavement surrounding the pools and the fact that the whales are ‘trained’. These are no longer whales that are being “conserved” they are money making slaves that are being kept alive for profits, no more, no less.

    If Sea World really had the good of the environment and sea life in mind they wouldn’t run a theme park that is inherently horrible for the environment.

  53. 61 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 17:45

    The main problem with this is those who do care little about the animal’s welfare. To them they are a resource to be used until worn out then discarded. More often than not their animals are kept in terrible conditions, abused as most animals kept in captivity are not done so by zoos, but entrepreneurs or private citizens who can easily find replacements. When you have that attitude life means nothing.

    Your dancing bear dies, you have to train another one, but you can poach another from the wild. So to view animals as objects, merchandise cheapens them. Zoos may justify themselves as being educational or as a service for conservation but it a dubious one. Many zoos with less funding do not keep their animals in good conditions and you cannot replicate their environment.

    I remember the last time I went to my zoo with their ‘exceptional’ primate enclosure only to see apes exhibiting overt, obvious abnormal behaviour often associated with stress and depression. Of course the kids there thought it was fun and roaring with laughter at the ‘funny monkeys’. People will never learn not under these circumstances.

  54. 62 Anthony
    February 26, 2010 at 17:49

    I wonder if all these people complaining about whales would be as upset if they saw someone riding a horse they owned. Or how about seeing eye dogs, how dare they train dogs to do humans bidding.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 63 Linda from Italy
      February 26, 2010 at 18:08

      But Anthony guide dogs and horses bred for riding are not wild animals, so humans have already intervened in their evolution, by “domesticating” them.

  55. 64 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 17:54

    Perhaps the time has come for severe sanction against those who use and abuse animals. Wildlife documentaries show cruel and vile people who profit from the misery or animals, gypsies with dancing bears, Chinese with tiger shows where farm stock are torn apart for fun, animals trained to perform tricks etc.

    Often they escape punishment or continue once they have paid a fine or bribed an official. A good solution would be to subject these people to the same level of abuse as their animals… but of course we cant be uncivilised can we? What a contradiction!

    Make examples of animal traffickers or ‘entrepreneurs’ harsh severe and final examples and I guarantee a lot of this will stop and for those who wont be intimidated, at least they wont be around to do it again. Problem solved. But since we don’t value non-human animals above the welfare of these deplorable individuals nothing wil change.

  56. 65 Anthony
    February 26, 2010 at 17:55

    Just curious, is anyone here Dr. Doo Little? Do any of you talk to animals? No, so how do you know they don’t like it? How do you know they aren’t happy doing what they do? Those animals live a very comfortable life with plenty of food and less stress since they aren’t stalked by predators 24/7.

    So, please provide me ANY PROOF AT ALL that these animals don’t like their situation.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  57. 66 Elias
    February 26, 2010 at 18:01

    If the animals are treated right and not forced to do anything that may bother them then its Ok, otherwise no.

  58. 67 patti in cape coral
    February 26, 2010 at 18:03

    When I was a kid I went to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and there was a spot in the lion exhibit where there was nothing separating me from one of the male lions but plexiglass. I was literally inches away from him. He was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, truly heart-pounding. He looked so noble and lordly, and seemed to be totally bored and uninterested in me. It made me feel like a lowly peasant!

    Maybe as stated above, we could only house animals in zoos that need extra care or would otherwise not survive in the wild, such as injured or deformed animals.

  59. 68 Concerned Parent
    February 26, 2010 at 18:09

    I was going to go swimming with dolphins with my children this summer – but the recent fatality at Seaworld has made me reconsider. Could a dolphin kill a child? I for one am not going to take the risk and find out

    • 69 Linda from Italy
      February 26, 2010 at 18:58

      @ Concerned Parent
      I’m so glad about your decision, for the dolphins’ sake; can a child kill a dolphin?
      Wild animals are, or rather should be, just that – wild.
      Buy your kids a book, talk to them about such animals, show them a film if they can’t read, I thought we were supposed to be such superior animals precisely because we have developed language as our primary means of communication.

    • 70 patti in cape coral
      February 26, 2010 at 19:18

      @Concerned Parent – I think a dolphin could kill a child if it wanted to, but I have never heard of it happening. A group of dolphins can attack and kill a shark and have been known to do so. Dolphins in captivity are also known to often try to have sex with their trainers. In general, the dolphins need to worry about us than we need to about them.

    • 71 Tim
      February 26, 2010 at 19:53

      You should worry about male dolphins and their desire to show their maleness to you!

  60. 72 rob z.
    February 26, 2010 at 18:17

    Places like Sea World do more than entertain;they educate and do research.With out such organizations,we would not know as much about animals as we do now.
    As far as the shows,there will always be a risk of bad behavior.Even with humans there are problems.
    Places like Sea World,Busch Gardens, and the many zoos & preserves around the world are doing good things.As with any industry there will be accidents;does a construction accident or car accident always make global news?
    The people who work in animal research an preservation be given more support.After all they are the ones who keep the world from over fishing the seas and animals around the world from being wipped out.
    Robz in Florida.

  61. 73 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 18:19

    Come on Vijay.. many poor would be starving in India if not for using animals for entertainment.

    This is what I am talking about. Why don’t Indians tackle their population problems? Starving Indians is a problem entirely of their own making. By using animals to solve this problem that should not occur is a dismal point to make, to justify animal cruelty in this way is contemptable.

  62. 74 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 18:22

    @ Tamatoa

    They don’t think about themselves and are emotionally and intellectually extremely limited compared to humans. Humans made civilizations in 6000 years. Animals virtually nothing.

    really and you know this for a fact, even those involved in research are finding now our preconceptions of how non humans perceive the world are wrong. You talk of civilisation… let’s see wars, destruction of our own habitat, slavery of children for sex.. yes I can see how civilised your superior human race is now!

  63. 75 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 18:27

    @ Vijay

    Perhaps the Indian government should stop wasting billions on their space programme, or building sports venues and the incredible amount of money an their army and nuclear weapons to feed those starving people?

  64. February 26, 2010 at 18:28

    This whale has been associated with three deaths. The cause of each is not relevant. One situation and the whale should have been released. Ego and greed killed this trainer.

  65. 77 DrR
    February 26, 2010 at 18:42

    True animal sanctuaries should never allow the paying public to pet and interact wth their animals. Those that do are clearly only interested in income generation. They are worse than poor zoos as the public is duped into supporting them thinking they are helping the animals. The Tiger Temple in Thailand is a prime example – the monks might have started off with good intentions but it soon all became about the money and animal welfare suffered. http://www.careforthewild.com/files/TigerTemplereport08_final_v11.pdf

  66. February 26, 2010 at 18:48

    Keeping animals out of their natural habitat is the surest way to destroy wildlife. This is tantamount to cruelty to animals! Caged animals are in unfamiliar surroundings and unleash their ferocity when released from captivity. Their stress has been bottled up. Just like human beings, animals express stress and depression. Taking animals from their natural surroundings and using them in circuses is selfish to the core. The animals are forced to perform acrobatic acts. Animal rights have to be respected.

  67. 79 DrR
    February 26, 2010 at 18:52

    Has Dolphin Assisted Therapy been scientifically proven to work? I heard one of the pioneers of DAT now actively campaigns against it and the benefits are no greater than stroking a household pet! There are potential health hazards to……. dolphins belong in the sea and if kids want to interact with animals they should get a cat!!

  68. 80 Alan in AZ
    February 26, 2010 at 18:55

    I posed some of these issues to my Master’s. 2 wiener dogs, 1 cat/dog ( cat raised by dogs ) and her 2 offspring.

    These are their views!

    Animals kept for:

    Entertainment – BAD
    Animals Medical Research – OK if done Humanely
    Medical Research for Humans – BAD
    Big Zoo’s with lots of room – OK
    Little Zoo’s with no room and few facilities – BAD
    Game Preserves for Endangered Species – Very GOOD
    Game Preserves for Hunting – Very BAD
    Circus’s – BAD
    Small Animal Petting Zoo’s for Child Education – OK
    Dog’s and Cat’s for Food – No way in Hell!

    When they finished their list, I was instructed to Love them, Feed them and Scratch their Bellies. Then they let me watch the Olympics.
    I am such a lucky Slave. And here I was thinking they took care of me.

    • 81 Linda from Italy
      February 26, 2010 at 19:14

      Alan, I took a scientific sample and surveyed my 33 cats and the general concensus is that we are great entertainment for them 😉

  69. 82 Chintan in Houston
    February 26, 2010 at 19:00

    If you can keep animals for milk, eggs, meat, leather, horns, horse/dog races etc. its perfectly fine to keep them for entertinament as long as they are treated humanley while they are captive.

  70. 83 Mr. Kawakubo {PORTLAND}
    February 26, 2010 at 19:07

    In a world where so many devour animals every day by eating their cooked flesh, the minimal animals in zoos or places of entertainment is the least of our concerns. Not to mention all the animals in our homes and farms, that are essentially in captivity, that we label our ‘pets.’ Our concern over animals as entertainment is inane.

  71. 84 August
    February 26, 2010 at 19:07

    Freedom is a natural thing to all life. No being should be born into captivity – nor should it be placed into such a position to entertain other “species” because we believe we may “never get to see it.” If you want to see these creatures in person, then spend the money to see them in the wild. You would spend twice as much to see them in a place like “sea world”. I find it quite ironic how we boast that the human race is the smartest, yet we think this is ok ?

  72. 85 resopmok
    February 26, 2010 at 19:08

    Like the lion tamer that couldn’t hold his ground, anyone dealing with wild animals must understand that’s what they are – wild, and, for the most part, they do. Perhaps for some their ego gets too big, routine leads to carelessness, they don’t take all the precautionary measures and then someone is surprised when they get eaten? It took thousands of years of interbreeding and generational training to make the “domestic” animals like cats and dogs, horses and pigs, etc., and even still we see that these animals can behave erratically from time to time. So should anyone really be surprised this happened? I don’t think so.
    Whether animals like this should be kept in captivity for the public’s viewing pleasure is another issue. Of course they would probably be “happier” in their natural habitats, but in many cases these habitats are shrinking or nearly gone altogether, and the animals held in captivity often have it “as good” as those in the wild.

  73. 86 Larry Cohen
    February 26, 2010 at 19:10

    What do we do when we want to keep animials in danger of extinction in our zoos? viz a viz, the Panda Bear, among others? What are our choices?

    • 87 Tim
      February 26, 2010 at 19:59

      What do ws do? Stop killing animals. Hunt down poachers. Punish Asia fir shark din soup , bear paws and tigers testicles. Stop it nowp

  74. 88 Anthony
    February 26, 2010 at 19:11

    @ John Jenkins
    February 26, 2010 at 18:28

    “This whale has been associated with three deaths. The cause of each is not relevant. One situation and the whale should have been released. Ego and greed killed this trainer.”

    The cause of each situation isn’t relevant? So if someone pulls a gun on me in my home, and I kill him, the situation doesn’t matter? Should we treat me like a serial killer? That just doesn’t make sense in real life.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  75. 89 A.J.
    February 26, 2010 at 19:17

    It is wrong to capture animals and have them put on display purely for the entertainment pleasure of humans. If an animal is hurt or dying, is it man’s responsibility to nurse it back to health or should we let nature take it’s course? The excuse for keeping such animals afterwards is, “They wouldn’t survive in the wild”. We saw with Keiko, after so many years of captivity, being unable to catch and eat fish on his own. His re-introduction into the wild was long, hard and expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. He died. The educational aspects of animal “shows” in captivity can arguably be seen as worth while, but for instance, keeping a huge beast that migrates thousands of miles a year in a tank of water? Highly questionable. In the end, Keiko’s survival was dependent upon on the Orca being weened-off of contact with people. That says a lot.

  76. 90 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 19:18


    I have given money to agencies to help the poor in the past..

    So am I entitled to have them dance and do tricks for me… is this what aid money is for? Subject to entertainment returns?

  77. 91 Nicole in Indianapolis
    February 26, 2010 at 19:19

    I think this would be a valid issue if the habitats of wild animals were not gradually being destroyed.

  78. 92 August
    February 26, 2010 at 19:21

    What is the difference is between seeing these animals in a “safari park” versus what you would see, say on the National Geographic channel? Why must we inconvience other creatures because we think we have the right to “entertain” ourselves? Why has the human race done away with slavery? Our descendants can tell you living in captivity – now matter HOW WELL you are fed and treated – is NOTHING compared to freedom.

  79. 93 Julia in Portland
    February 26, 2010 at 19:25

    I volunteered for a few years at a zoo. I’ve always been an advocate for keeping animals in their natural habitats.

    Unfortunately, due to human error we have created environments that are harmful to animals, bringing them to the edge of extinction. Zoos aren’t ideal we all know that, BUT:

    Although zoos originated as forms of entertainment, they are now incredibly important in the preservation of species through breeding programs and educational programs. The wolves that are now back in Yellowstone wouldn’t be there except for collaborative efforts of zoos.

    Someone once said (paraphrased):
    You only can love what you know and you will only protect what you love.

    The zoos provide many many many millions of people the opportunity to learn about and love animals which in turn helps to protect them in the wild.

  80. 94 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 26, 2010 at 19:26

    If all captive whales were released tomorrow, I wonder how many of them would wind up on Japanese dinner tables, the result of Japan’s so-called “research” into whales?

  81. 95 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 19:26

    I have to say that all of what I have researched or learnt about animals has not been from zoos. I don’t need to see an animal in a zoo to learn something valuable about them. This can be gathered from a myriad of sources. Just as I don’t need to cut my wrists to know it is going to cause me problems.

    And why is the best argument pro commentators make is to label those who are concerned about other forms of life, ‘bleeding heart liberals’. This simply proves the point that many have no idea what animals go through.

    To say (on air) that animals have a good life in zoos. I really resent this comment. Apart from not being able to know directly, just behaviourally anyone with any intelligence can see they are not. Look at prisoners in jail for one.

  82. 96 Eric (san francisco / KALW)
    February 26, 2010 at 19:26

    Sad to see Jack from Columbus zoo acting as unpaid spokesman for this corporation……
    There’s a difference between keeping an animal as a forced performer and keeping it generally.

  83. 97 Ronald Almeida
    February 26, 2010 at 19:26

    If humans can live in cubicles and eat out of cans why not animals?

  84. February 26, 2010 at 19:27

    I’m so sick of hearing the argument that keeping animals in cages is good for education. It’s not. It’s good for the pocket book of the person with the cage. Sure there are some things that can be learned by locking an animal up, but that does not inherently make it right. Locking any living being up against their will is wrong. These whales and dolphins committed no crime but surviving in their natural habitat as they have for thousands of years. For this crime of life they have been kidnapped and imprisoned for the remainder of them. People claim it’s for education, but that’s just to mask the fact that it’s for profit. If it were truly about education we would take our children to the forest, to the sea, or to the prairie instead of to a pavement covered amusement park complete with a roller coaster (as is the case with Sea World). No, Sea World is not about education, it’s about profits, plain and simple. The education aspect of Sea World is merely a fallback when calling it a business won’t quite suit.

  85. 99 Robyn Lexington, KY USA
    February 26, 2010 at 19:29

    Bottom line is we humans are destroying the natural habitats of all animals. If we have any chance of saving some of these animals we have to learn has much as possible to save them and their habitats. So to the people who say we should not have them in captivity for any reason best be saying goodbye to them because humans are destroying their natural world. Well run zoos and marine research and display parks are going to be the only way to preserve some of these animals.

  86. 100 Anya
    February 26, 2010 at 19:30

    I think it depends what kind of animals we are talking about. Different animals have different levels of intelligence and emotions. Some animals are more comfortable in captivity than others.

    My goldfish seems to be happy in my fish tank as long as the water is clear and they are fed regularly. But the people who work closely with dolphins testify that dolphins are unhappy and even depressed in captivity.

  87. 101 John
    February 26, 2010 at 19:30

    Point 1: Seeing animals in captivity helps people understand why we need to ensure that we do everything we can to ensure that these beautiful animals will always have a safe and protected natural habitat. (It’s not possible to fully appreciate Rome by watching television, nothing will ever compare to being there in person. The same goes for animals.)

    Point 2: Because we can’t be trusted to ensure that these animals will always have a safe and protected natural habitat, it’s important for us to be able ensure the continuation of the species through breeding programs in captivity. The alternative is extinction and that’s just not acceptable.

    Thanks, John

  88. 102 Lisa S
    February 26, 2010 at 19:33

    There are far too many exotics in captivity and many are kept in horrid conditions and exploited for money. The places that allow human interaction are just doing it for the money. Not only is it bad for the animals but it puts an unsuspecting and gullible population at risk.

    We have no right to take them from the wild or breed them for our amusement and entertainment.

    Zoos are only as educational as the people who visit them are willing to pay attention to the animals at the zoo and study them and read about them. Not to go from exhibit to exhibit to exhibit after a moment at each. If people actually stayed put at an exhibit for a while they would see, in some cases, the boredom and stressed behaviors such as pacing, over grooming, hiding and the like.

    To the man who thinks that the USDA are on top of the conditions that animals are kept in is wrong. They don’t have the money or the staffing to see each and every place that has animals. He would be horrified at some of the conditions that animals are rescued from. Check out the documentary The Tiger Next Door and see what happens to exotic cats in this country!


    Also check out http://www.911animalabuse.com/

    They should release the whale from Sea World to a marine sanctuary immediately!

  89. 103 Mike from Seattle
    February 26, 2010 at 19:33

    There is no way that “Orcas” should be kept in captivity. If anyone has ever seen how Orcas look and act in the wild they would immediately know that Sea World animals are not normal.
    These animals roam hundreds of miles and are socially dependent on their families. It is a joke that Sea World provides what these animals need. Just look at their animals dorsal fins, they are completely “flopped” over, they are forced to swim in circles, they don’t have true family units anymore (pods). If people want to see and help Orcas they should go see and support them in the wild. Go see them in Puget Sound USA or Johnstone Strait in BC, and support the efforts to help these great animals.

  90. 104 Tom D Ford
    February 26, 2010 at 19:33

    @ steve
    February 25, 2010 at 15:43

    “By keeping some in captivity, it can create an interest in the animal, so that if it were becoming endangered, people would have exposure to them and be more likely to do something…”

    I rarely agree with Steve but I agree on this entire post.

  91. 105 Jason
    February 26, 2010 at 19:33

    Have you ever considered that we discriminate completely by what animal is being kept. The world isn’t in an uproar over farms and animals being kept as livestock. I live in San Diego and the zoo here has done remarkable work returning endangered animal populations. The care being given to the animals is unquestionably top notch and in some instances better than that given to people. Although wild animals do not have a voice they are cared for in a manner that insures they healthy lives. Where do we cross the line where the actions taken by people in the wild are held as accountable as the actions of people caring for animals in zoos. Awareness is a much more powerful weapon in defending wild animals and it is best instilled in the youth of today by the tangible connection zoos represent.

  92. 106 Malaika
    February 26, 2010 at 19:34

    Wild Animals should never be kept for entertainment or pleasure. I know that those who work with them are very passionate about them, but my childhood experience from my one visit to a major zoo left me feeling disturbed. I remember thinking how depressed the lions and tigers looked. These are animals used to wide open spaces. Their instincts demand that they run, swim – whatever it is – over vast tracks of land and water. No matter how gilded a cage may be, it’s still cage and like humans in capitivity, I truely believe that these animals would prefer to live wild and free rather than have the best vet care.

  93. 107 Julia in Portland
    February 26, 2010 at 19:34

    In regards to the money issue with zoos……I would bet that the majority of zoos get by – barely . They are not money pits, they are not getting rich from this business. Zoos rely on donations from individuals and corporations just to maintain their facilities. From my experience the majority of people involved with zoos are incredibly concerned with conservation and preservation of species, not in getting rich.

  94. 108 Alan in AZ
    February 26, 2010 at 19:34

    One incident should have been enough to see this mammal released back to the wild. Is it’s offspring worth the life of 1 Human?

  95. 109 Lauren Marie Fleming
    February 26, 2010 at 19:35

    I grew up in Southern California going to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The money I spend there goes directly to conservation efforts all around the world, and the animals are treated wonderfully. Yet, I turn around and go to Sea World, and see large animals in too small of cages used for entertainment purposes only. I think the important difference is animal conservation versus human entertainment. There should be quality standards set with the sole purpose of conservation.

  96. 110 Leslie
    February 26, 2010 at 19:36

    It is incorrect to argue that no animals should never be kept in captivity for any reason. I grew up near the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, and many of the animals there are endangered or even extinct in the wild. I realize this is not a typical zoo, but I do believe that they do a lot of good there. They have world-class breeding programs for endangered species as well as many opportunities for research. It is not the best situation, but if the animals are extinct in the wild or would be hunted there or have no habitat left, it is necessary to put them into captivity in order to try to save the species. Until we learn to conserve the world around us, these kinds of programs will always be necessary. Using the animals in captivity for entertainment by accepting money from visitors is necessary, as they would otherwise be unable to fund their programs, or even feed the animals. Not enough people will donate money to these organizations without something in return – so again, a necessary measure.

    However, orcas are not endangered in the wild and there is no reason for keeping them in a tank. I see a difference between these scenarios, and I disagree with keeping large marine mammals in such a small space. These animals, however, can likely never be released into the wild, as they would not survive or would be killed for their attentions to local people.

  97. 111 Martin Stoddard
    February 26, 2010 at 19:37

    Watching animals on TV or the internet does not free them from harassment. Does anyone really think animals in the wild with cameras and helicopters trained on them feel less stress then hand-fed animals in captivity?

    • 112 James Ian
      February 27, 2010 at 07:34

      I do, that would be temporary stress not long term like in captivity.
      I get just as motivated after watching a a documentary on tv or I-Max as I would at sea world or the Zoo. Doesn’t smell as bad either.

  98. 113 Andrew in Australia
    February 26, 2010 at 19:38

    It really gets my ire up to hear how well captive animals are kept in.. There will always be problems.

    CAPTIVE that’s the point… no one can be happy under that condition. I am sure those who kept slaves fed many of them well and gave them clean beds. Don’t be so quick to equate food and enclosures with a great life. You may be trying to ease your guilt by thinking this, but you are wrong.

  99. 114 Victoria
    February 26, 2010 at 19:39

    Is everyone who is against keeping animals in captivity for entertainment/education purposes saying they have NEVER been to see an animal in captivity and enjoyed it or taken a child and educated them at the zoo or aquarium? I am guessing most have and are not taking a hypocritical stance.
    And for those who say they should be filmed and be seen that way – how does that help the animals and allow them to be in their natural environment? WIth men on boats chasing them and following them, not only distressing the animals in the wild and also contributing to global warming and destroying their natural environment.
    Yes seeing and animal in the wild is very different and far more exhilarating but not all of us have that opportunity. Those who don’t have that opportunity should not be looked down on for wanting to see them.

  100. 115 ingrid
    February 26, 2010 at 19:40

    those who are so concerned about the care of a tiny percentage of whales held in captivity – are they as concerned about the conditions that so very many people live in in some of the world’s poorest places? there are billions of children on the planet living in utter poverty – i’m certainly not going to spare energy worrying about several dozen whales who seem to be very well cared for in the rich world.

  101. 116 Tom D Ford
    February 26, 2010 at 19:44

    I like the idea of up close and personal experiences with animals for educational purposes. And if that can be enhanced through making it entertaining, well, that’s OK by me.

  102. 117 Sophia
    February 26, 2010 at 19:44

    Fresh Air aired a very interesting interview with Temple Grandin not too long ago, it seems relevant to this discussion. (I’d recommend both the interview or her books to people interested in interpreting animal behavior.) She basically argues that animals do not think the way humans think, and attempting to “humanize” the thoughts, emotions, or actions of animals can be disastrous. Humans and animals can certainly be companions, but we are fundamentally different – we are not wired to “follow the same rules” of behavior. It’s therefore shocking to me how often we attempt to blur the line between species, but still act surprised when animals act like animals. We are willing to use animals for entertainment, we are willing to absorb their personable characteristics, but only when we don’t have to witness the characteristics to which we are unable to relate. That seems mixed up…

  103. 118 Carole in OR
    February 26, 2010 at 19:45

    As a child (40+ years ago) I visited Sea World in San Diego and was forever impacted by this experience. My love for nature and animals was significantly changed and continues. At the time people I knew had never even seen the ocean and this was a vital learning experience. However, we know more now than we did when these parks were created. As long as we can popluate these parks from captive bred animals, they should continue. But we should no longer remove animals from the wild.

  104. February 26, 2010 at 19:46

    Initially I thought maybe we should have these animals returned to the animals but as I listened and thought about it I realized that this would be a grave detriment to the growth of environmental movement. Modernity’s penchant towards detachment, in this case detachment of animals and the earth from everyday life will just hide the issue further from the public view. Why care about something you never see, you never interact with, you have no personal connection with whatsoever. There may be an important educational value to continue to raise awareness around earthcare issues.

  105. 120 Chris Pilkington
    February 26, 2010 at 19:47

    Unfortunately in today’s detached society, keeping some animals in captivity is necessary for the following reason.

    – We (Modern society) live a life that causes Habitat loss or damage through harmful pollution to animals both land based and marine. Not through neglect or through malice but just a lack of knowledge about the way our products and lifestyle are causing harm.

    People will never change unless they can see a reason to change.
    If people are able to see and grow to respect these animals then we can start to make a difference.
    The only way forward that I can see is to bring animals to the people. This is bad for a few animals but if we go to see them in the wild then we risk damaging or causing pollution to sensitive environmental areas.

    I would hope through Education we can gain respect for our fellow creatures.

    Maybe instead of captivity or general tourism we should set aside small local marine reserves like the big game parks of Africa and offer subsidised tourism to these small areas where we can see the wildlife in their natural environment allowing us to monitor stress on the animals and pollution in the area while not inhibiting their ability swim off to some ware else.

    Aquatic animals have 9 tenths of the world surface to move within keeping these in captivity for any reason other than breading and conservation goes against the grain. No cage is ever going to be big enough for animals as truly free as birds and marine life.

  106. 121 Mr. Kawakubo {PORTLAND}
    February 26, 2010 at 19:48

    I grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida, and went to Sea World many times. It is of course questionable to keep animals in captivity, which is why I don’t own a pet, but this is a problem of scale. I think it is more offensive to go to the Red Lobster restaurant and see live lobsters in a glass tank waiting to be boiled to death for the sole purpose of food. At least the animals at Sea World bring joy to people, they perhaps educate people, and perhaps teach people empathy towards animals. What is more useful? A thirty minute meal or years of use.

  107. February 26, 2010 at 19:49

    I’m a little sad that this conversation hasn’t broadened out to cover horse racing, rodeos, circuses, animals on tv. Animals are used in entertainment in many ways.

    In terms of orcas, in the wild they might swim 100 miles in a single day with their pod. In captivity, they only have a barren pool to swim in. Their life span in captivity is only about 35 years. In the wild females can live until 70 years old.

    For those who argue the welfare of the animal should be compromised for education please understand that if a child is going to appreciate an animal, they need to see the animal living for his or herself rather than as an attraction for spectators. People already believe that animals are here for our amusement rather than for their own lives. And animals in entertainment perpetuate that belief. It cultivates it from an early age.

  108. 123 jens
    February 26, 2010 at 19:52

    I am really on the fence on this. one side says these big whales need to be out in the open, the other says having the ability to see them first hand and close up is pretty exciting. i am a diver and love to watch water live and sometimes a hugh aquarium is the next best thing

  109. 124 Tom D Ford
    February 26, 2010 at 19:54

    One part of the education is in the training of the animals.

    You cannot beat an animal into doing what you want, like King Salomon teaches in the bible with “spare the rod and spoil the child”. You have to use positive rewards, positive reinforcement of desired behaviors and so human parents can learn from animal trainers how to raise good children.

  110. 125 Julia in Portland
    February 26, 2010 at 19:58

    So long and thanks for all the fish.

    sorry…just had to throw that out there….I miss Douglas Adams

  111. 126 jade
    February 26, 2010 at 19:58

    The thing with many people is that they would rather spend their resources like time & money on entertainment or another car, and not traveling to see the world. For example, many people in the developed countries have not seen much of the world outside their borders. Now why is that?

  112. 127 Maitin
    February 26, 2010 at 20:00

    While viewing animals in the wild would be ideal, it is not always possible. Perhaps we should consider that places like Sea World expose the public to these wonderful animals; which is necessary if we wish to protect their habitats.

  113. 128 patti in cape coral
    February 26, 2010 at 20:00

    This notion that animals are for our use seems backward to me. Even the bible gives me the impression that we are stewards of the planet and the creatures on it, we are supposed to be take good care of them and their welfare. I think everyone on the show is concerned about the animals’ welfare, but could not agree what was the best way to do it.

  114. 129 Marc Mathews
    February 26, 2010 at 20:05

    many people stated the educational value of places such as Seaworld. I have to admit that I have never been to Seaworld and I wonder what visitors actually do learn after they have seen a show there, apart from the fact that they are very intelligent animals. That, you can learn from any good documentary showing these animals in their natural habitat. It would be interesting to hand out questionnaires to visitors afterwards to survey their knowledge.

  115. 130 Colin L Beadon
    February 26, 2010 at 21:30

    From Barbados.
    There certainly are some species of animals that seem to enjoy entertaining people. Certain dogs,some cats, monkies, parrots, and others. My dogs, JR’s, certainly love ball games with me, for instance.
    Perhaps those certain animals that live in captivity would find entertaining much better than their usual everyday boredom doing nothing ?
    Most of us hate to see any animal or bird in a cage, can’t bare it in fact. If animals have to be caged, let the cages be flightable for birds, and huge enough for animals to bound about in.
    Otherwise, it is better and more humane, to treat them with lead shot behind one ear, and burry them in some wood, or beside a slow -running stream, with all your love., and tears.

  116. 131 Clamdip
    February 26, 2010 at 22:40

    Free Tilly!

  117. 132 Colin L Beadon
    February 27, 2010 at 01:03

    Animals are sentient beings. You only fully appreciate this if you have lived amongst them, slept beside them, walked the wild places in rain or sun with them. Spoken to them daily, recognised them fully, loved them will all your heart, burried them when you had to, and placed flowers on their graves, remembering what each one of them meant to you.

  118. February 27, 2010 at 02:05

    why unnecessary pain and suffering to the animals ?, for joy, pride, personnel gain, profit and greed, which is not a human act, thought even……….let us respect others to get respect for ourselves.

  119. 134 David
    February 27, 2010 at 07:28

    What animals?! People are animals and they entertain us all the time. Some are exploited by their masters. Same as the four legged animals. If we treat them well, why not?

  120. 135 subra
    February 27, 2010 at 09:00

    I spent some days at the Wankie National Park in Zimbabwe and I admired a large number of animals, elephants, rhinos,zebras lions etc. All these animals are in their natural habitat, hunting their prey for their food.
    But what surprised me most was to see them lazing under trees, dejectedly and not as happy as people think them to be in their natural habitat.
    At dusk they come to drink water and slowly move away without any display of contentment or frolicking.
    I even watched some penguins at Philips Island in Australia. These penguins swim daily hundreds of miles go hunt for their food and return late in the evening to spend the night in their nest and early morning leave again for the hunt. It’s a routine. In captivity the penguins are abundantly fed with fish, they swim, play and entertain humans. Where is the wrong?

  121. February 27, 2010 at 14:08

    Zoos are cruelty. How would any human like to be extracted from its environment and caged for the pleasure of people who are too lazy to read and research about the animals that interest them.

  122. 137 maryam khan
    February 27, 2010 at 14:14

    yes we should keep animals for the sake of entertainment.but some how the other it could be a matter of interest towards animals or pets.that is why we should keep pets with us…….they help us to b happy and can play a role of a partner in loneliness.

  123. 138 jade
    February 27, 2010 at 14:30

    the British naturalist Sir David Attenborough produces very high quality Nature documentaries. good examples of educational materials by scientists/ artists who have a genuine passion to protect the natural world, & can interpret natural phenomena with vision & objective knowledge. It’s far cheaper to get an education that way if one would just listen and watch, and reflect.

  124. 139 EBAYTKMAX
    February 27, 2010 at 15:50

    That’s a tricky one! How many of us have been to the zoo and enjoyed looking & learning about animals close-up, we could not do that in the wild! Also some animals are more safe in a zoo & would not have lived as long as they have if they were in the wild. Its a shame about the trainer & I am glad that they have decided not to let other trainers go into the water. I dont think this ‘killer’ one my name & now by nature should be in shows again for its not the same if a person isnt in the water too, I’d be gutted if I’d paid my ticket for it to be ‘watered down’ as it is now. I’m greatful too that it hasnt been put down but it shouldnt now be involved in the shows. May the trainer RIP.

  125. 140 Andrew in Australia
    February 27, 2010 at 16:56

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear how enslaved non human animals can educate people. Seriously, please tell me what some overweight, unruly, dim 8 year old will learn while they munch on their hot dog and gulp down their soda, pointing at the funny animal stuffed into an enclosure or cage?

    How can that inner city kid from Philadelphia affect worldwide treatment of animals after he has visited some dismal zoo in his area?

    That excuse just doesn’t carry any weight or does the small plaque stuck onto a stick outside some tiger’s cage impart more information than I thought possible?

  126. February 27, 2010 at 17:37

    Of course this is a tragedy! But this keeper, bless her heart, accepted the risks of working with these enormous animals and she did it out of her love for animals. So there is nothing to condemn Sea World or the orca for. Above all, we should NOT listen to the silliness that comes from the animal rights extremists. They do not care about animals — only about their own political agenda.

    Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos

  127. 142 Dennis Junior
    February 27, 2010 at 18:03

    (Should animals be taken out of their natural habitat for our entertainment?)

    Simply, NO…To the conflicting story about animals being made to entertains us as, a viewing public.

    *Dennis junior*

  128. 143 Dale from Delaware
    February 27, 2010 at 18:34

    I hear a lot of anguish about keeping animals in captivity but not so much consideration of what happened and how it happened. We can’t flip a switch and shut down the business of animals in captivity, so let’s try to understand what can happen when you do keep them so it won’t happen again. First these are not domesticated, they are ‘habituated’. Some are born in captivity, but wild-caught cetaceans are smart enough to learn to follow cues from human trainers for rewards: fish, applause, belly rubs. Trainers use natural behaviors and shape them into performances: synchronized jumps, pushing or carrying around balls, rings, or the harnesses that allow trainers to ride on their backs. It’s likely that this older, experienced individual was frustrated at not performing for those rewards. Parts of the picture fall into place. A recognized trainer is there, and she may have initiated some cues as in a performance, the belly rub for example. This orca may have seen her pigtail as a harness and decided to show her his version of a previously learned behavior. Or it may have been similar to some of the ‘enrichment’ playful activities. Orcas can’t realize that humans cannot stay underwater. To say that this orca exhibited aggressive or premeditated bad behavior is unrealistic. I have worked with wild animals for 30 years and think this was just an unfortunate series of events

  129. 144 JanB
    February 27, 2010 at 20:36

    Well, it depends. It is cruel to keep a canary in a cage, but I’m pretty sure a cat doesn’t regret living with humans for one second (as long as he’s not abused and is allowed to go outside whenever he wants to). I guess it depends on how close we can recreate the animal’s natural life, for a snake for example a small cage is enough since in nature they only move when they are hungry, which may only be twice a month. On the other hand animals like tigers and many bird species are used to roaming large territories, other animals like apes just get bored and depressed in a small enclosure because they are very active and curious. We can offer animals like cats, dogs, turtles, snakes and many invertebrates a life that resembles their natural life or something they like even better, but some animals just aren’t cut out to be pets.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have zoos: as these places could harbor injured specimens or sustain breeding programs for endangered species as well as house animals who don’t mind living in an enclosure. There is also a category of species that won’t like living in a home but may just get enough space in a zoo, such as fish who live on coral reefs (they won’t like a 1m aquarium but will thrive in a 100m long artificial reef).

  130. 145 Robin Brinster
    March 1, 2010 at 13:17

    These captive animals have no life. Maybe they aren’t dead but there is more to life than not being dead. The animals are robbed of living a life. For a concious creature living its life the way it is intended to is everything. It is to us.

    Imagine the loneliness these animals must expierence, left in a tank, the trainer spends some time and then is off, out with friends, to a movie…. living a human life.

    The animal is just left unable to pursue any kind of a life.

    If these zoo keepers, animal trainers say they love their captured animals, I would not call it love. I believe some feel attachment, but attachment is not the same as love. It’s selfish, love is not selfish. How could anybody who loves the captured killer whale think it’s okay for it to be deprived of living its life and then collaborate in that?

    The terrible thing is, in fact, there are people out there who would rob all sorts beings including humans of their lives and they do. Laws have to protect people and animals because unfortunately, some people are unable to feel or care about the experience of another living being.

  131. March 1, 2010 at 15:31

    One great book on the topic of animal captivity is called Thought to Exist in the Wild by Derrick Jensen and Karen Tweedy-Holmes.

    It is incredibly well written and researched, providing moving arguments and facts against the industry of animal captivity. Anyone interested in this issue should read it.

  132. 147 James
    March 2, 2010 at 10:48

    Sea World needs to shut down. It is all for profit, here is the Sea World equation:

    Exploitation + Research = $$cash$$

    Now some common sense – which produces the most cash? Exploitation or Research?

    We all should know anyway that Research is just a cover anyway to create more cash. It is unfortunate that the terrible tragedy occured, I hope greed of this corporation does not deter the warning signs for these tragic animals.

    Shut Sea World down and place the animals in habitat sanctuaries.

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