Hello again from the
place where it never stops snowing!
The Blizzard Fence is
finished!! Hooray! Hooray!
Now we just have to get
through the “Snow Deck” and all our outdoor work is finished (for now). Sigh.
Our life, at this
juncture, involves waking up, slurping down coffee/tea and porridge, schlepping
out to the freezing cold job site, hammering, sawing, and nailing until dark
(which arrives at 4:30), dragging our icy butts back to the Shagalicious rental
pad, stuffing food into our gullets, showering (if we have the energy), and
falling asleep at some ungodly early hour. That is to say, we are supremely
uninteresting humans right now.
In this cold, Prez’s
knees send him constant reminders that he was once a stuntman and did hideously
painful things to his body on a regular basis. As a result, he can often be
found staring wistfully at the PADI dive magazines we receive twice per month.
As I write, he is on Expedia checking on airfare to Curacao or some other
tropical locale. It doesn’t help that the Ripster and Mountain Momma just
returned from Costa Rica with tales of waves and jungles.
So, seeing as our lives
are so pitifully dull right now (although I did have a fabulous dream about a
dancing hippo) my thoughts this past week have been on a whale of a tale I saw
on the news. It seems one of the marine mammal “slaves” at Sea World tried to
drown one of the trainers. During a routine Kasatka, an Orca, held a trainer underwater twice, almost
drowning him. Call me cruel, call me insensitive, but when I saw the report I
gave a silent cheer for the whale.
I love animals, that’s no
secret. People are great on an individual basis but the human race as a whole
leaves much to be desired. That’s not to say that I favour animal welfare over
human welfare, not at all. My feeling is simply that humans create their own
mess – messes that often victimize the other critters we share this planet
So, let’s talk about zoos
and aquariums. Here’s the argument most people will give you in favour of
places which keep animals in captivity: “Seeing animals at zoos/aquariums makes
people love them and want to protect them, therefore, a few animals must suffer
for the greater good”. To this I say: “Hogwash”. Yes, some zoos and aquariums do some
good for some animals. There are
species in real danger of unnatural extinction and these facilities provide
safe habit for them. And, yes, they do provide some educational programs and
I’m always a fan of education. But the hard truth is most zoos/aquariums – I’m
talking globally – provide small, substandard facilities bordering on abuse. As
long as I live, I will never get the image of the black bear I saw at a
Japanese zoo, stuffed into a cage so small he almost couldn’t turn around, out
of my head.
But nothing is as heartbreaking,
to me, as a marine mammal in captivity.
I’ll come clean with you,
I used to loooooooove going to the zoo or the aquarium. As a young girl, I
begged to stay up past bedtime to watch Jane Goodall on TV, and dreamt of
perhaps becoming a zoologist or a marine biologist when I grew up. And yet, it
wasn’t until the day I first saw dolphins in the wild that I started to
really care, to really speak out for the wild things of this world. No
aquarium, no matter how large the pool, can show you how truly magnificent
dolphins and whales are. Only in their natural habitat, jumping and flipping
for sheer pleasure, can you begin to understand the beauty and power of these
creatures. Once you’ve seen them interacting socially (dolphins sometimes
congregate in the thousands), hunting for prey, playing, protecting their young,
traveling hundreds of miles at a time; once you’ve looked into their eyes and
seen not the blank stare of a fish but the knowing gaze of a highly intelligent
mammal; you see how barbaric it is to pen them up and make them do tricks for
To put a marine mammal in
a pool, well, just imagine spending the rest of your life in a broom closet
that should give you some idea.
I know there are those
who will say we were given dominion over the animals, we are the top of the
food chain, and we shouldn’t be wasting our time worrying about animal problems
when there are so many human problems to contend with. I’ve heard people
complain about animal rights activists and that if they had their way we
wouldn’t be able to build anything anywhere because of one poor spotted owl. To
which I say, again, HOGWASH.
We should be judged, not
by how we treat our equals, but by how we treat the lowest of the creatures of
this earth. If some entity has given
us dominion over all the creatures of this earth, then don’t we have a
responsibility to take that job seriously and make sure no undue harm comes to
those creatures as a result of our greed, ignorance, or anger? Humans swarm
over the earth like locusts, we push animals out of their habit, we enslave
them, we genetically modify and mass-produce them for consumption – we’re
pretty crappy caretakers if you ask me. Animal activists (the non-crazy ones)
only want balance and fairness and those qualities are good for all animals,
even the hairless ones who walk around on two legs.
So, back to the rebel
whale. Orcas are known as “Killer Whales”, this is a bit of a mix up from the
native description of them as “Whale killers”. You see, an Orca’s favorite prey
is the Grey whale. What they do is hunt down a sow and her calf, get between
them, and then drown the calf by grabbing its fins and holding it underwater.
Drowning prey is completely natural behaviour for an Orca. So why is anyone
surprised when an Orca tries to drown a human? I don’t care how much “training”
these whales have had, they are wild animals and anyone who climbs in with a
wild animal takes a risk. Yet, the spectators I listened to who had witnessed
the incident, were shocked, horrified, one woman even suggested the whale
should have been killed.
The whale should have been killed? For behaving naturally? Did this
whale ask to be caged up for our amusement? Did the whale ask some stupid
biped to hop on its back and go for a ride? No. Lady, you don’t like seeing a
giant predator doing what it has done for thousands of years then stop
supporting Sea World.
Sorry, hackles are up.
I will not EVER go to Sea
World or any aquarium with marine mammals. I will not EVER go to any “Swim With
the Dolphins!” operation, anywhere, under any circumstances. I will ALWAYS
speak for those who have no voice no matter how unpopular that makes me.
And I will always cheer
for the whale.
QUESTION: Would you go to Sea World?
Great links: Orcas in Captivity
Marine Mammals in Captivity
What’s Wrong With Swimming With Dolphins?
The Truth About the Violent Capture of Dolphins
Until next week, I hope
this finds you all, no matter how many legs or fins you might have, healthy,
happy & lovin’ life!
Hey, haven\’t checked out your site in ages! I agree 100% Can you believe that the Vancouver Aquarium is aggressively pushing for an extensive expansion and it looks like there\’s a really big chance it\’ll go through. Not only we lose more of Stanley Park, but instead of reducing captivity (like the polar bear pen now dormant) in the park, they\’ve decided to step it up a notch. Ridiculous.
It\’s amazing, isn\’t it, how many people support cruelty as long as it\’s entertaining. So sad about the Vancouver Aquarium. Weren\’t those polar bears that saddest creatures you\’ve ever seen?Hey, thanks for stopping by!Kristene
Yup, Long live the bloody colliseum I guess. I was actually lucky enough to never have to see the polar bears in person… definitely not a fan of seeing the Belugas captive, I went with my girlfriend Candice and it really just sickened me. I\’d never seen such animals, but I most certainly didn\’t want to see them that way. I don\’t know if you heard about all the trees getting windblown in Stanley park, but its brutal… thousands are down! my favorite part of the park too 😦