BY: Maddie Jomolca
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 26)
While several campaigns have been launched within recent decades, campaigns like-“Save the Whales”, “Adopt-a-Whale”, “Operation Relentless” and “Meet Us, Don’t Eat Us” to name a few, none seem to have made as much an impact as the recent efforts of film director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite, with the film – “Blackfish”. Blackfish, released in July of 2013, (initial DVD release was November-2013) and selected by the Sundance Film Festival, is a powerful documentary capturing emotional interviews and footage on the otherwise life of an orca whale in captivity, specifically within the confines of the giant animal theme park- Sea World.
After hearing so very many differing opinions and views, and at the mercy of my daughters’ plea, an avid animal-lover, I finally headed over to our local Red Box and rented it several weeks ago, and was immediately sucked into the films “plot and plight”. My daughter- Stazy (short for Nastazia), a 15-year-old high school sophomore, began to watch the movie as I initially prepared us some ‘comfort” snacks, yet was enticed to join her, as she shouted out: “Mom, you have to see this!” We both sat and watched in horror. We watched, as mother and baby were pursued, and made to separate for sake of trapping the young mammals, in order to snatch them away into captivity, only to leave the mothers “wailing” in distress. We watched, in shame for all of mankind, how the months and years have taken its toll on these defenseless animals by way of physical disfigurements and emotional duress, and how, in turn, these whales in an unthinkable pressure to perform, turned on a handful of Sea world trainers, in some instances, taking their lives. I remember at some point, looking over to a teary-eyed Stazy, and thinking about how positive and enlightening, although brutally transparent, it was for her to become aware and educated on the not-so-pretty side to animal theme parks… behind the scenes.
Stazy was, in fact, so impacted by the film, that decided to write about it for an school research paper recently assigned, and included the following:
“There is an old saying my mother says sometimes: “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, and while there are many, many things and inventions in this world that have caused growth an evolution in many wonderful ways, I have also and sadly become aware that many things in our history simply do not evolve but instead stay exactly the same, like the care for our animals for example. Many people take vacations to SeaWorld to take their mind off of things, to get a dose of adrenalin with the rides, but no one stops to think of the big whale in a tiny tank. It’s almost like an adult being trapped in a baby’s bathtub. These beautiful creatures need to swim up to one- hundred miles a day, and instead, they find themselves spinning around this tank, just going about their daily performances. We have to STOP this!”
While Stazy didn’t receive the high score she was expecting (she got a “C”), it was evident by the feedback of her teacher and classmates that she touched the hearts of many.
In Scripture, specifically in the book of Genesis (1:26.-28), God gives man dominion over all animals. The word dominion means “rule or power over” However, with the authority to rule comes the responsibility to rule well. Man has a duty to exercise his dominion under the authority of the One who delegated it. All authority is of God (Romans 13:1-5), and He delegates it to whomever He will (Daniel 4:17). Even and in spite of this truth, the plight of the orcas in sea World and many other animals in captivity is a far cry from Gods intended instructions, for there is an inherent accountability in the command to “subdue” the earth (Genesis 1:28). (Theword subdue means “to gain an understanding of and a mastery over”.) When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner.
Because the film has created such an uproar, its immediate influence can be felt from animal protection groups, to lawmakers, to celebrities, who have created petitions and launched lawsuits, and cancelled performances booked at several Sea World locations. Clearly, there is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes. In fact, a petition to make it illegal for Californian marine parks or zoos to use orca whales for entertainment purposes has gathered 200,000 signatures. If the bill is passed, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act would make it illegal to capture orcas and hold them in captivity for public performances. Those found to be doing so could be fined up to $100,000 (£60,000) or face six months in a county jail. The Sea world crew has, naturally, unleashed their own PR offensive to attempt to counter-act it all.
Now, I don’t typically join forces with groups like PETA, (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) as in their often unyielding effort to bring relief to animals, they, all too, often lose their way, and drift away from the value of human compassion, yet, after much research on the many different ways to take action, I found their efforts to be the most effective. That being said, we at INSPIRED, have joined forces with PETA’s ongoing lawsuit and efforts to “cease and desist” from the abusive captivity of these precious mammals, and urge you to do the same.
This link www.peta.org will redirect you to their site for more information on taking action. In the meantime we are in the process of launching a direct campaign (Stazy Saves Whales Project) with the involvement and awareness of high schools with south Florida region… stay tuned.
“Until the whole world hears”…
Ignite. Incite. INSPIRE.
Madeleine “Maddie” Jomolca
Editor & Founder