The Question of Captivity and Poaching

Ever since the release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013, many marine facilities have taken a hit with regards to captivity. The biggest target of them all has been Sea World Theme Parks.

New ad campaigns continue to roll out as the PR team works diligently defending SeaWorld against the criticism. With the loss of their CEO and their record drop in attendance, they have come to realize that this film is more than just propaganda released by extreme activists, and that the public’s perception of marine captivity is undergoing a change.

SeaWorld’s Manipulative Tactics

In an attempt to redeem themselves, SeaWorld released a series of ad campaigns. Their latest “Ask SeaWorld” Twitter campaign seriously backfired when hundreds of legitimate user questions flooded the company focused on the concerns of the marine life held in captivity in the parks.

Rather than responding, SeaWorld placed blame on the activists for overshadowing the true questions with harassment. Outspoken Twitter users were banned by the PR team, including Racing Extinction’s Leilani Munter.

When users could receive a response, questions were avoided or answers contained avoidance or distorted information. A good example of this is when the question of why SeaWorld isn’t open to releasing their marine life into sea pens, their response was that SeaWorld parks are home to their marine life and this release would cause exposure to ocean debris, pollutants, and other pathogens that would be life threatening, such as morbillivirus.

It is convenient that SeaWorld chose not to disclose how many of their animals have died from encephalitis, fungal infection, heart failure, influenza, and pneumonia. They also would not release information about how many animals died at an unnaturally young age while in their care.

South African Poaching

African rhinos are found primarily in South Africa. As of 2010, there was an estimated 18,796 white rhino and 1,916 black rhino population representing nearly 93% and 40%, respectively, of the entire white and black population. Poaching levels have soared in recent years. This has spurred global debates regarding stopping illegal poaching.

South Africa managed to escape the first wave of terrifying poachers during the mid-1990’s due to the unwavering commitment conservationists showed toward rhinoceros and their diligence toward monitoring and protection. This recovery of the white rhino population is probably why South Africa feels such a great attachment to their rhinos.

One of the driving factors for their previous success is their alliance between public and private sectors. The fact remains that between 20-25% of rhinos in South Africa have private ownership. There is an incentive for ownership that is private, in comparison to trophy hunting, in the way of income generation. In 1968, sports hunting of white rhinos began were 1,800 animals at the time and had experienced an average of fifty animal hunts annually ever since.

The rhino horn, however, became in demand in the mid-2000’s in Asia, placing rhinos under massive attack throughout Africa. There are three different ways rhino horns have been outsourced in South Africa. The first indicator of this change was the number of hunters began increasing. Many of these hunters were inexperienced, often shooting the female rhino so long as they could still get the horn.

Another indication is there have been a lot of robberies of horns throughout South Africa in the museum, as well as stockpiles. This crime has risen throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well. The horns that have been stolen have numbered at least 65 in South Africa and 50 in international countries. The most disturbing trend of them all is the poaching of rhinos in South Africa, which is seeing a horrific increase.