Last week Sea World Australia and its parent company Village Roadshow publicly confirmed they will not stock wild caught dolphins or whales in any theme park it operates – including parks planned in China, South-East Asia, and Russia.
The announcement came after hundreds of people from Action for Dolphins (previously Australia for Dolphins) and Animals Australia emailed the companies, asking them not to buy into animal cruelty overseas. When it became apparent Village Roadshow and Sea World still had plans to take whale sharks from the wild for the project, the park again came under pressure.
In what appears to be a further turnaround in the face of public protest, yesterday Sea World and Village Roadshow made the huge announcement they would be pulling out of the Hainan project altogether. A media statement made yesterday confirmed, “Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) has recently ended the agreement to manage the proposed marine theme park development in China on Hainan Island.”
This announcement is a huge testament to the power of public pressure, and represents an important sign of progress. While the Chinese marine park project will likely still go ahead without the involvement of Sea World or Village Roadshow, Sea World are now very aware they cannot escape public scrutiny by taking business overseas. Especially when those business activities would be illegal if undertaken here in Australia.
SeaWorld U.S has been experiencing mounting public backlash since the release of Blackfish. As public awareness grows, SeaWorld’s bottom line has tanked, evidenced by the drop in profits since the documentary’s release. Further, U.S Congressman Adam Schiff this month introduced legislation that could see the prohibition of breeding captive orcas, end the capture of wild orcas and stop the import and export of the killer whales.
It is clear that there is a growing shift in the United States and globally, that it is not acceptable to imprison intelligent animals in tiny chlorinated pools. Sea World Australia has attempted to present a public face that aligns with ‘conservation and education,’ but they’ve got a lot further to go if they want to convince animal welfare advocates. While other aquariums in the U.S are retiring their dolphins, Sea World and Village Roadshow are trying to revive the captive entertainment business.
But as we have shown Sea World and Village Roadshow, an ever-aware public no longer want to see this archaic form of entertainment.
Sea World and Village Roadshow’s recent pledge not to purchase wild whales and dolphins demonstrates the power of public force. Your help has thwarted their access to the wild hunt industry, reducing demand and the overall need for this barbaric activity to continue.
Without the power of our combined voices, this commitment from Sea World would probably never have come about. Our voices showed Sea World it simply can’t export animal cruelty overseas and the company’s future actions will be held to account.