Day 8: A photo that makes me sad


Ugh. I’ve been dreading this one since the Blog Challenge 2011! began. I mean, who wants to post a photo that depresses you and everyone who visits your blog? Not me.


I’m not perfect. I have little aggressive tendencies; part of me likes to push buttons and get people upset. Not just for the sake of getting someone upset– I’m not exactly a sadist. No, instead I’m just a little teeny weeny bit of a jerk. I like to rub ugliness in people’s faces when it’s something I am passionate about. I can’t help it. I have rage inside me about certain things. Like cruelty to animals. People who use Christ as an excuse to be hate mongers. Women who leave their children with men who end up beating and/or killing the kids, and then wonder why it happened. Pro-life crazies who somehow think it’s acceptable to kill physicians who perform abortions. Holocaust deniers. Michael Vick. Snooki. The list goes on and on.

So… there are a lot of photos that go with all of those things I just listed. I’ve had to think about a photo that doesn’t make me super angry, but instead just saddens me on a very deep level. I also couldn’t put anything with blood up here, because that red color just spurs a visceral reaction that’s a little more intense than what I’d want to put up here. (I was tempted to share a photo of the dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan, since that’s the first animal-cruelty thing I ever saw images of, when I was very young, and it made an indelible impression. But it’s too disgusting to bear to look at.)

So I chose this photo:

It barely needs explanation. It says so much. The body of the trainer killed at Sea World lying under a blanket, only feet away from the whale who took her life. And Tillikum, the whale, in that tiny little enclosure, looking right up at the camera. I can almost hear him crying out: “I can’t take this anymore.”

There’s no need to reiterate my feelings on dolphins, whales and other marine mammals in captivity, since I’ve made my thoughts very clear on several occasions. Instead, the saddest thing about this photo is that it was taken on February 24th, 2010. And here we are, on January 10, 2011… and have any shows stopped? Has SeaWorld stopped the horribly grotesque performances? Have they stopped putting the lives of their trainers in danger? And has the industry to acquire new animals for the aquariums around the world come to an end?

Not at all. It’s like it never happened. People are still paying to see those shows. People are still turning a blind eye to suffering. Hell, not just turning a blind eye to it… in this case, they are SEEKING IT OUT and buying admission tickets. Teaching their kids it’s OK to do this. It just makes me seriously sad. That trainer died in vain if nothing changes.

And now, that whale Tillikum is sequestered and cannot have any trainers in the water with him anymore since he’s now dangerous. But he can’t help it. People did it to him. What did they think would happen? This kind of thing is inevitable. But that whale has known trainers and people as his substitute pod for years and years now… if they take away all contact, it’s cruel all over again. There is no simple answer here regarding what to do. He can’t be set free.

I don’t want people to forget about this tragedy, and remember that nothing has changed.

So, in this way, I am being a wee bit of an activist jerk. I admit I enjoy reminding people. I’m not letting it go. I won’t. If that makes me an actual jerk, then so be it. I’d rather say something than keep my mouth shut.


7 responses »

  1. I’m going to have trouble with the three photo posts just because I recently cleaned all my photos off the computer and put them on disk. DH was griping about the PC running “slow” (well, it’s old and he’s always on the laptop so that’s what he’s become accustomed to) so I tried to free up some space. And I don’t feel like digging them all back out again and finding something to re-upload just for a blog post.

  2. Ugh. I agree with you. This photo is horrible. Sad that it was taken on my birthday. 😦
    But I just had a conversation with a “daddy” friend last week. We were talking about Disneyland vs. Sea World. I have never taken my daughter to Sea World for just that reason…I don’t like animals put in unnatural situations. I refuse to take Gia to the cicrcus! I have problems with horses in stables too. But that’s another story.

  3. Disneyland is WAAAAAY better than SeaWorld, anyway. There’s no contest. So much more to do, so many cool rides and stuff… even if you take the animals out of the equation, SW sucks so much. I’ve been to the one in Florida, and the one in San Diego. In Florida, I didn’t totally know better yet about how bad it was to keep the animals like that, but I DID know I didn’t like the performing shows. My favorite thing was the shallow dolphin tank, where you could hang your arms down and pet the dolphins as they swim by. Being able to touch a dolphin, just a couple of times, made a huge lasting impression. So, I don’t know sometimes how to feel about that. Am I a hypocrite because I know I did enjoy having contact with some animals in one of those parks? I’m not sure. Maybe. Would I want to deny that experience to my own daughter? Not let her ever get the chance to touch a live dolphin?

    (And any circus with any animals is automatically on my NO WAY IN HELL list, too. I did think about going to this weird little circus with trained housecats, once, though. Somehow, domestic animals being trained doesn’t seem as terrible a thing. Weird.)

  4. Fraulein– The single greatest scene in “Anchorman” is when Christina Applegate is reporting live from the cat fashion show. Oh my God… I am laughing again just thinking about it. I might need to see if there’s a clip on YouTube now, because I’m in the mood to see it again. Whew. Cats really are funny.

  5. I have the same mixed feelings about Sea World. Hate that they do that to the whales because they need so much more space and are not supposed to be jumping through hoops etc. But I love the dolphins, who seem to really enjoy performing and have lots of space to swim. I love dolphins and touching them was amazing. I don’t think I would ever bring my child to Sea World, we would do an aquarium instead. And circuses should be outlawed. I hate them. Have only been to one and cried through the whole thing. I couldn’t stand seeing the animals like that.

  6. It’s a common misinterpretation about dolphins, CP… I’ve read a lot and heard people say the same thing you did. I used to think it, too: That it’s OK for the dolphins to be there because they seem happy and they’re smaller animals. It’s really because bottlenose dolphins have perma-grin. They always appear to be smiling, when they’re not. Also, they are food motivated to the extreme (often starved between show performances) so they seem eager and excited to perform tricks. Of course, some dolphins probably DO legitimately enjoy doing tricks, on account of boredom and how incredibly intelligent they are. So it’s not always blatant cruelty/starvation at work there, for sure. It’s still not behavior they’d seek out to do on their own. (Well, dolphins do a lot of stuff similar to the tricks in the wild, but because of their own decision-making skills and creativity, not because another being tells them to do it.)

    Ric O’Barry, the activist behind “The Cove”, says that the very thing that draws us to dolphins –their happy appearance, the smile, the willingness to interact with us– has been their undoing at our hands. If they were ugly, mean-looking creatures, we’d leave them alone. And that seems really true, to me.

    Last year, some scientists proposed that dolphins be considered “non-humans” so they could gain more protection. The reason behind this was all of the studies into their intelligence and the size of their brains. When it comes to brain size comparative to body size, dolphins are second only to humans. Their brains are also surprisingly similar to ours in terms of which areas control different functions. Dolphins can recognize themselves in mirrors, and understand complex sentences (researchers can say something like “put the red ball in the blue box” and even though the dolphin has never done that specific task before, it can put the words together and process the meaning of the sentence! Isn’t that just fuckin’ incredible?!)… so, I think, if more people really understood dolphins and their actual natures, they’d come to see that captivity is definitely not the right thing, morally-speaking.

    Gee, I’m sorry… I can really ramble on and on when it comes to this subject! But trust me, after over 14 years of researching all of this stuff and building a book around what I’ve learned… I can’t help my damn self! 🙂

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