Op-Ed: Former SeaWorld Ad Writer’s Anguish post Blackfish
An amazingly talented woman who once created major advertising and public relations campaigns for SeaWorld is having a drastic change of heart. After viewing the documentary film Blackfish, Cara Wilson-Granat will no longer list SeaWorld as a former client on her resume, but instead seeks healing as she prays to right the wrongs of the past… and the present. The California based author and inspirational speaker submitted an op-ed to The Orca Project and we are pleased to present it to you here… in her words:
San Diego, California – Years ago when I was a copywriter for an advertising agency in Los Angeles, one of my favorite accounts was writing for SeaWorld. I could barely contain my joy writing the ads, radio and TV spots that touted the “touching experience” of SeaWorld. Oh the delight I felt when I first met Shamu and was able to experience a world of magnificent marine mammals supposedly there for the edification of humans to see the sea wonders up close. A devout animal-lover, I thought (as did most of the creative team) I was participating in the preservation of Orcas seemingly delighting in this magical environment of hands-on trainers soaring through the choreographed acts with them. Oh how very wrong I was. And oh how deeply ashamed I am today for being a part of this vile travesty. I never knew or saw SeaWorld in the truest sense. I bought the lie…
Today, I can no longer remain silent in my fury and anguish after just viewing the extraordinary documentary, Blackfish, which reveals the profound cruelty of Orcas, primarily those at SeaWorld. This is a film that must be seen by the world because it uncovers that which most of us never knew nor wanted to believe, that these “happy” whales flipping and breaching on command are indeed, miserable, highly stressed, sickly, going insane, deeply grieving, separated from their natural habitats, their familiar pods—babies and mothers screaming for each other, all isolated in cruel and abusive ways that are unfathomable. We can no longer sit by nor support this immoral madness and applaud in delight. It would be no different than cheering on the destruction of life itself.
I can’t contain the massive sorrow that I feel right now knowing that those brilliant mammals, with complex brains, languages and family structures equal to and even superior to humans, are living out their brief lives so horrendously. All because of greed under the umbrella of “family entertainment”—making fat the coffers of the SeaWorld corporation and destroying these gentle beings before our very eyes. When left alone we are learning, Orcas never kill or attack humans; they live long lives in close-knit family bonds—vocalizing in unique ways of communicating in distinct languages that we’re only now beginning to understand. This is true for dolphins as well.
There is absolutely no reason for marine mammals—especially Orcas and dolphins—to be kept in captivity such as the circus-like watery prisons of SeaWorld. In a recent article by Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D., marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, Dr. Rose explained that she’s part of a team working with Merlin Entertainments Group creating the very first sanctuary for captive bottlenose dolphins. For over 20 years now she has been advocating this very same solution for the welfare of captive whales and dolphins as well.
If SeaWorld and other marine theme parks were to work with enlightened marine scientists and animal behaviorists, like Dr. Rose to transform their worlds into safe and beautiful marine sanctuaries this would definitely be a win-win for all. People would show up to view the Orcas from a distance—either through video cams, full-screens projected around the park, animated, and 3D presentations narrated by humans talking about the animals but not in any way interfering nor interacting with them in intrusive ways.
And the Orcas wouldn’t be separated from their original pods, their sanctuaries would be spacious and as close to their natural habitats as possible; and all would only cared for by veterinarians and hands-off care-givers—leaving these beautiful mammals to live their lives peacefully until the blessed day when they are completely free to be in their worlds separate from ours.
Today, many wildlife preserves (like San Diego’s Wild Animal Park) are wisely putting humans in trams to view the animals in their “natural” habitats from a safe distance. Unfortunately, the world is encroaching on almost every species putting most of them on the endangered lists because of poaching, deforestation, wars, starvation, global warming, etc. Zoos are evolving into educational, conservation-consciously safe harbors for the last of so many breeds. These top wild life sanctuaries and zoos are leaving the animals to be animals—in cage-free environments—without having to perform like puppets for the “entertainment” of crowds.
It takes courage and humility to admit that what one is doing is wrong and hurtful and the most compassionate and wise path is one that takes the higher ground; in SeaWorld’s case—the safer waters. It’s not too late to re-do, start-over, do what is best. They would be far more popular than ever if they did. The world is watching. But if they are sticking to their stance that SeaWorld is educationally sound then what they’re teaching is that cruelty and greed are all that matter. There are former trainers who have admitted that Blackfish has only scratched the service of the horror behind-the-scenes at SeaWorld. I can’t even go there in my mind.
I do believe that there are good and compassionate people at SeaWorld who genuinely love those animals with all their hearts and would die for them to protect them in any way possible. The tragic death of SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau in 2010 should have been the deciding moment when everything came to a halt and all of those animal welfare/animal rights advocates were acknowledged for what they were saying: NO ORCAS SHOULD BE IN CAPTIVITY. This dedicated trainer who loved those animals with a passion had no idea what she was in for swimming in waters with a whale who was so emotionally and physically mistreated.
Right now I have removed SeaWorld from the list of clients on my resume. That doesn’t negate the fact that I once believed in the fantasy that they wanted us all to believe. To say I’m ashamed to have ever been associated with them is an understatement. I will forever carry the guilt I feel now in knowing I chose to look the other way for the sake of advertising. There aren’t enough “I’m sorry…forgive me” words to assuage my pain. But now that I know the reality I’m praying this corporation and others worldwide will realize that once they relinquish their devastating control and treat these magnificent mammals the way we all wish to be treated, then love not fear is what results. Every. Single. Time.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”- Socrates
~ Cara Wilson-Granat, Author/Inspirational Speaker
Cara Wilson-Granat is a professional speaker and writer/author located in San Diego, California.
She has been a copywriter (TV, radio, print) for award-winning accounts in Los Angeles, Monterey and Sacramento and has created major advertising and public relations campaigns for clients such as The Tropicana Hotel, L.A. County Fair, Hilton Hotels, Princess Cruises, Tibor Rudas Organization (Superstar Theater), Monterey Museum of Art, CTB/McGraw-Hill and many others in the health, education, art, business, technical, family, retail, building, hospitality, entertainment and non-profit fields.
Although she enjoyed her time as a copywriter she is now loving her new career as a full-time author and speaker.
Be sure to check out Cara’s latest works which recreate orcas in captivity. Amazing!! See her incredible work HERE.