“When will SeaWorld stop allowing trainers to use dolphins as surfboards, standing on their faces and backs, to perform circus-style shows?” In the wake of the Canadian Parliament’s passage of a bill yesterday to end the captivity of whales and dolphins there, that’s the question that Alec Baldwin will pose to SeaWorld executives at the company’s annual online meeting on Wednesday.
While the meeting takes places virtually, PETA supporters will gather in person outside SeaWorld Orlando with signs demanding, “SeaWorld: Stop Standing on Dolphins’ Faces!”
When: Wednesday, June 12, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Where: 7007 Sea World Dr., Orlando
“It’s unacceptable that smart, sensitive dolphins are being used as surfboards and launch pads in demeaning SeaWorld spectacles,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA and Mr. Baldwin are demanding that SeaWorld trainers take their feet off these animals’ backs and faces.”
Baldwin’s question follows a PETA-led news conference held last week in San Diego, during which a team of experts shared a new veterinary report asserting that dolphins at all three SeaWorld parks have open wounds and extensive scarring on their faces and bodies — but trainers still ride on their backs and stand on their faces during performances. The panelists — which included Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, cetacean behavioral biologist Dr. Toni Frohoff, and PETA Foundation supervising veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally—described how this practice may damage dolphins’ hearing, strain their muscles and joints, and exacerbate the injuries caused by their confinement to SeaWorld’s tiny tanks.
PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” — notes that dolphins in nature swim up to 60 miles a day, dive to depths of nearly 1,500 feet, and maintain dynamic relationships within a large social network. But at SeaWorld, they’re packed into shallow tanks in which they can’t escape attacks from other frustrated, aggressive dolphins.
A father of four young kids (whom he says he’ll never take to SeaWorld), Baldwin has a long history of marine mammal advocacy, including encouraging Macy’s to dump SeaWorld’s float from its Thanksgiving Day parade. He also wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf urging his hometown of Massapequa, New York, to reject a bid by the notorious aquarium and petting zoo chain SeaQuest — which later withdrew its application to open a location there.