I have written about this subject before. I am writing because the conversation seems to keep going on and as painful as it is for me, I know that there are many other people who must be far more affected by it than I am. I am deeply empathic to other people’s situations, but there is nothing like living through speculation of oneself, nothing can compare. I am also a very loyal person, and a bit of a mother hen when it comes to the individuals that are part of my tribe. Though, I know that I am quick to jump to the defense of my family, I always try to do it with clear and educated intention.
Imagine all of the people that you know, and pick out two of the kindest and most generous of them. I watched this couple get married. They are people who have been through their fair share of hardships, but regardless greet every single day with positivity and enthusiasm that they can’t wait to share with other people. They have been my neighbors, and mown my lawn just because they had their mower out. I have entrusted them with the care of my children. So try to put yourself in my shoes, for a moment, and imagine my emotions when public criticism is coming down on my friends, what they do, and what they have worked their whole lives in pursuit of doing.
I remember making a frantic call about three years ago, to my friend, because at that point, all that had been released to the public was the fact that a female trainer had been killed at Sea World. Hearing the sound of her voice on the other end of the phone was one of the biggest moments of relief in my life. As much as we love our friends, we live with the possibility that there could be an accident every single day. So do their parents and families, just as the family of the lovely woman who lost her life did. We accept it, because our friends are living out their dreams. They are highly trained and very capable. They absolutely understand, as do all of us who support them, that they are putting their lives at risk, in however small a way, to do the job that they love. They willingly take that risk because they have wanted to do this job since the time that they were children.
Not many people in the whole world get to do the jobs that my friends do. Few people ever get to have the sorts of relationships that they do with the same magnificent sea creatures. They have worked and long and hard, and sacrificed, to get themselves where they are today. They adore the jobs that they do, and the animals that they work with. They do not do their jobs to seek fame, and certainly not fortune. No one in the crowds of people who watch them perform every day ever remembers their names, if they happen to hear them. Neither of my friends would still be working for the company that they have worked for since they were teenagers, if they thought that any of the animals they loved were being harmed.
I have watched my friends perform. I have taken my kids to see them, and those are some of our fondest memories. My children cannot understand in the least what the controversy is with Sea World. I think that this is because my children see what I see; happy animals performing with the trainers that they love. You can call me crazy, but when I look at them, I see joy in their faces. People insist that the enclosures are too small. I agree that it is nothing like the wild. Consider the lives of our pets, however. Many peoples’ dogs sit alone miserable all day long, waiting for their owners to get home. This is why they lash out and tear up the garbage, or chew up the drywall. Animals who depend on people are unhappy when they are not getting attention from the people that they love. It can be very difficult to give the animals that we care for ideal environments. It can be insisted that it is much different with whales because they are wild animals, but most of these whales have been in captivity for generations and generations…they aren’t really wild anymore.
Before I knew any of the deeply disappointing information that I now know about the making of the film Blackfish, I had no interest in watching it. I knew that I would never believe in a bit of it, because I believe in my friends. Now that I know more about it, it saddens me even more deeply that it was made. My personal belief is that it was created more for profit and film accolades than for the protection of animals, but that is my opinion. It hurts me to know that not only did my friends lose a fellow trainer who they loved like family a few years back, but that her death was used as a stepping stone to attack her own life’s work. I find it so disrespectful that it makes me want to cry. I hope that even people who were strongly affected by the film can see that there is always more than one side to a story. It is important to remember that.