Posted by: Shark Boat - R/V Sea Watch | September 17, 2014

Animal Care Angst

When I was a kid…. I went to Sea World with my family. I learned to love these amazing sea creatures, I became connected to them. I saw trainers and wanted to be them. I said the words out loud. I want to be a dolphin trainer when i grow up….
fast forward.
Here I stand today laying my life and I all have on the line to save and protect our oceans as well as the animals that call it home.
How many similar stories are in the world? This debate – it is not a cut and dry thing. Not everyone can go to the ocean. Some will never in their life see it. Some will never gain those connections or interest. Some will never build that passion. Some never would have. They will never have a chance to smell the scent, feel the salt on their face, see the animals in their natural environment.
For those that choose to cast stones – do you still go and eat a nice sushi lunch? Open a can of Tuna to make a sandwich? Buys the Shrimp Fajitas? Ahi poke with cocktails on friday night? Looks down to see the lobster at market price and wonder if you can afford it or deserve it that day decide on the Swordfish or Salmon instead?…..These things cause much greater death and destruction with zero educational return to anyone. The ironic nature of our world baffles me.
Cats and dogs have been domesticated and transformed. How many of you own pets? What is the difference there? These animals have been an evolved at human hands and will from a wild animal to a working animal – to now – simply a pet to please it’s human master and be a companion. Share with me the difference that makes one thing ok but not the other? Because that transformation happened before our time? Because owning a dog or cat is socially accepted? Is a dogs natural environment a plastic house in your back yard? Chained to something so that it will not run away while you are at work?
Talk the talk… Walk the walk. If the human race as a whole did this… We would not have the issues we do today.
I am no longer in the animal care or husbandry world. I am proud of what I did and the lives that I changed. The kids I inspired to do more than just play video games and sleep on the couch at moms house. The budding marine biologists I trained. The perceptions that I have changed. The learning that was achieved from my efforts – these things came at the expense of low wages, long hours, lost family time, lost relationships, along with lots of my own blood sweat and tears.
Sadly – the all mighty dollar and push to grow revenues while we each gain more material things is evolving the world as well. Not just in the corporate world but yours and mine. Don’t you want that raise – the nicer house – the better car? That tropical vacation? Don’t you think you deserve it? That you have earned it?
Not sure that captivity has ever been done right – I have extreme doubts & very skeptical that it will be or even could be.
That said – it is not as cut and dry as those with narrow vision may try to portray. I can personally say – I very much doubt I would be doing this if it were not for building those connections so long ago, that my dreams/passions would have developed another path and followed another direction. Maybe an doctor or attorney. Maybe I would manage a retail store. Maybe I would be a astronaut.
But I am not those things…. I am a Marine Biologist and Ocean Advocate. I am a protector of our oceans.
Captain Chris Wade
R/V Sea Watch – Shark Boat

Tim Zimmermann

AC HortonNursing

Over the past month I’ve been digging into the lives of former SeaWorld Animal Care workers, and publishing their stories (here, here, and here). Many of their experiences seem shocking to people unfamiliar with animal care work, and how difficult it can be. And it is easy to see how the stories can fuel an anti-SeaWorld sentiment.

Jim Horton, one of the three former Animal Care workers I interviewed, was troubled by the vehemence and hardcore anti-SeaWorld nature of some of the comments he saw posted to social media in the aftermath of the stories (big mistake, to read comments, I explained). And also by the fact that many of the stories published in the Animal Care series focus on the negative aspects of the lives of the workers and the nature of managing animals in captivity.

Animal Care obviously includes a lot of positive experiences…

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