Tilikum died on 6 January 2017. He was 36. He spent most of his life in tanks that consisted of 0.00001% of his natural habitat. He was fed only processed and frozen fish. He performed tricks each day to the rapturous applause of folks like my brothers and I. SeaWorld released an almost laughable statement claiming that he had lived an 'enriching life'.
We must scale our conversation back more wholly, dismantling the very framework that underpins our prioritisation of spectacle, competition, tradition and recreation over that of animal welfare. Whilst this framework remains intact, progress will continue to be inconsistent. Meanwhile, cruelty will continue to occur on our doorstep.
Our beautiful seas and oceans cover about 70% of our planet's surface, with far more species living in the oceans than on land. The marine environment provides livelihoods and food for hundreds of millions of people, so it is important that we protect it. Yet, right now, millions of animals, including whales, seals, turtles and birds are being mutilated and killed by 'ghost' fishing gear - nets, lines and traps that are abandoned, lost or discarded.
Following on from my article 'Taiji Culture, Tradition or Greed' published on November 28th 2014, I would like to introduce you to Rachel Barton. In October this year she made what I would call an extremely difficult decision to travel to Taiji and witness first-hand the merciless and continuous dolphin drives that take place there.
Days ago, from a conference center perched on the edge of the bustling mountain city of Quito, Ecuador, delegates to the Convention on Migratory Species made an urgent and unprecedented call to end the live capture of whales and dolphins. This is the first time that any international body has called for this cruel and unnecessary threat to cetaceans to end.
Many facilities operate almost continuously, giving dolphins little respite from streams of tourists. Their diets may be erratic because many facilities generate additional revenue by selling fish to tourists in order to feed dolphins. Assertive dolphins can grow obese, and less aggressive animals may go hungry.
Nothing makes a good holiday brochure richer than the generic picture of a couple aloft an elephant, trekking through lush forest. What could be more authentically backpackery than that? A truly 'real' experience - just add some fire-juggling, a full moon party and copious amounts of local spirits and you have 1000 Facebook likes right there...