Vegan Homeschooling and Sea World

A sea turtle we got to meet up close at National Aquarium in Baltimore. She lost her front flipper and has been rehabilitated and now resides at the aquarium. Cases like this are what puts aquariums in the gray area of vegan philosophy for me.

Here in San Antonio we live quite close to Sea World. We can actually see the roller coasters when we drive out of our neighborhood. Many of our friends frequent Sea World or have season passes.

And yet, every time we drive past, my daughter and I talk about how it’s not nice to keep animals in small tanks for entertainment purposes. We talk about riding the roller coasters at Fiesta Texas instead because they don’t have animals there.

Sea World hosts a Homeschool Day each fall. This year it is on October 4th. There are no rides or attractions, just hands on interactions with the marine animals. It sounds like such a wonderful educational opportunity, it really does. And I do understand that Sea World is not just about entertainment but also helping marine animals and educating the public. This is why I think zoos and aquariums are a gray area for so many vegans, because there are educational opportunities and if we expect people to be moved to protect animals, we need to expose them to the animals.

We had a membership to the National Aquarium in Baltimore before relocating to Texas, and enjoyed it the few (two?) times we went. We saw the dolphin show there once as well. I think these facilities train dolphins because they are so smart, and these shows are a wonderful way to showcase their intelligence. At the time, I was unaware of where many of the dolphins used in shows such as this come from (The Cove was enlightening).

Even with the positive work done by facilities such as National Aquarium in Baltimore (they were active in habitat restoration and wildlife rehabilitation), and here at Sea World, I  have an internal debate with myself of whether to support them because they have captive large marine animals such as dolphins. Perhaps if I knew that all the animals were rescued and rehabilitated there, and that is how they came to be there, I might feel different. But this is not usually the case. I admit to putting an aquarium in a somewhat separate category in my mind than a marine park – though we have not joined an aquarium or zoo since relocating.

As for the Sea World Homeschool Day – we will be declining the opportunity to spend the day with the animals at Sea World. I am considering an alternative field trip for the kids that day.

How do other vegans handle these situations? Do you go to zoos or marine parks? Do you consider large reputable aquariums acceptable but not marine parks? I’m curious where vegans fall in this discussion.

 

4 Comments on “Vegan Homeschooling and Sea World

  1. What about if you went to Marine World south of St. Augustine? That is run by the U of Florida marine biology program. They do train the animals for tricks, but it is about learning how to train them and getting the behavioral science from it. I’m on my work computer and can’t see The Cove movie, but I know Marine World trains/has trained a lot of the dolphins used by Sea World.

    The other piece (coming from a non-vegan) that I would think these kinds of “shows” would illustrate is that these animals aren’t just animals…they are intelligent beings that should be respected.

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    • I guess it depends on where the animals are coming from. When you get a chance, watch The Cove – there is an annual dolphin drive each year in Japan where trainers wait to choose dolphins for facilities around the world. The problem is, the locals herd the rest of the dolphins to a nearby cove, block off the cove with nets and then just slaughter them – brutally. Its horrible. I think if the dolphins were rescued and rehabbed that would be one thing, but so many of them are coming from situations like what is documented in The Cove. That is where I have a problem.

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  2. I’ve just started following your blog recently. My hubby an are vegan and are starting to discuss building our family and how to handle education. This is so helpful. Anyway to address the point of zoos and seaworld and similiar type animal entertainment – our instinct has been to not spend money to support this type of thing. The enclosures are a fraction of what the marine animals truly need to be healthy/happy. We also live in San Antonio and no longer go to Seaworld. I did not know about “the cove” but will look into it. We do go to see animals in rescue operations. For example on our trip to Costa Rica this year we visited a large cat rescue (mountain lion, jaguars, etc.). These animals for various reasons can not survive in the wild any longer . I would rather my money support this type of helpful organization.

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    • thanks for following! I agree – I would rather support a rescue group or a rehab facility than a zoo or park that has entertainment as a primary purpose. While I think the zoos do serve to educate the public and to help the species, I think a sanctuary-type setting would be much better and would give the animals a more “natural” setting to live out their lives. The small enclosures at zoos aren’t acceptable and the stress of having to deal with the public on a daily basis must be so stressful for the animals. I would like to find more places I can take the kids to see animals in a natural environment, like a rescue (I’m so envious of your visit to the large cat rescue!). We loved visiting Sunny Days farm animal rescue, which is local if you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, and I am hoping to plan visits to other places that are within a reasonable distance.

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