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Friday, March 25, 2016

A Letter from SeaWorld

I saw this letter circulating among some zookeeper online communities I follow earlier today.  It's the response of Joel Manby of SeaWorld to a concerned correspondent who was expressing her discomfort with the announced partnership between SeaWorld and Humane Society of the United States, most recently evidenced in SeaWorld's announcement that it would no longer be breeding orcas.  I'll just leave this here...

Thank you for reaching out to express your concern for our recent announcements. While we're confident of the steps we are taking for the future at SeaWorld, we want you to know these were difficult decisions. We also want you to understand why we made them. Ultimately, the issue is: do we want a SeaWorld without whales over time, or a world without SeaWorld?

We love our whales and we know you do, too. That's why our whales have always received the highest standard of care from the most dedicated professionals in the world. And that’s something that is not going to change. In the months and years to come you will still be able to experience the orcas. But instead of seeing these majestic animals as you once did, we're creating new, exciting and more natural looking habitats and experiences that will inspire the next generation of guests to help protect orcas in the wild. These experiences will continue to build love and appreciation for whales – as our current shows have done for you.

Once we made the decision on the future of our orca program, we felt it was important to work with a former adversary, like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who would support our decision and agree that our killer whales are not suitable for sea pens. In addition to supporting our decision, HSUS also recognizes that SeaWorld's rescue facilities and expertise are incredibly important to save and house the thousands of marine mammals stranded a year. Based on our experience, having a third-party voice confirm our point of view is critical to driving the narrative about the dangers of these so-called sanctuaries and the important work SeaWorld does on rescue and conservation.

SeaWorld and HSUS also agree the oceans are in crisis and so are the marine mammals that live there. Commercial whaling and seal hunting, and the deplorable practice of shark finning must be stopped. These are things HSUS and SeaWorld can agree on. And, while we may disagree on other topics, if we can put those other differences aside, we can do a lot of good together – on these subjects and others.

We want every guest to our park to continue to be inspired to take action to help protect animals and wild places. We understand that our loyal fans like you might be surprised at our news, but our core mission and purpose will remain the same – to bring people and animals together for meaningful experiences that educate and inspire.

Though some things are changing, so many things at SeaWorld are not. One of those is our need for your continued support – like you’ve shown so loyally in the past by signing petitions and sending letters. We have an exciting future ahead of us and you are an important part of helping us succeed. Thank you for continuing to stand with SeaWorld as we work to inspire guests and protect animals and the wild wonders of our world.

-Joel Manby

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