It’s turning out to be a very messy Christmas for beleaguered attraction SeaWorld. In response to the theme park’s open letter published last Friday in newspapers across the country, the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) – an organization made up of individuals responsible for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove – is this week circulating a much longer rebuttal.
The Boulder, CO-based group warns that “no amount of advertising will counter the Blackfish effect.” Rather, OPS is urging SeaWorld to change its harmful, bottom-line ways:
SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales in the wild — it now has other people capture animals for them. The genetic diversity of orcas in captivity is low, often resulting in inbreeding. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act prevents SeaWorld from capturing wild animals directly without federal permits, it resorts to creative ways of introducing new animals and fresh DNA into the system.
One recent example of this involves an orca named Morgan. Documents filed by SeaWorld in April 2013 establish that it claims ownership of Morgan, who was rescued as an emaciated young animal off the Netherlands in 2010. Morgan should have been returned to the wild after rehabilitation, but was instead sent to Loro Parque, a marine mammal park in the Canary Islands where SeaWorld holds several young animals in its corporate collection. Morgan is the subject of ongoing litigation to return her to her family.