Thursday, February 6, 2014


Sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson added Heart to the list of bands that are bowing out of a show at SeaWorld because of the CNN documentary "Blackfish."

The documentary -- which first aired on CNN in October -- tells the story of the killing in 2010 of experienced SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by a 12,000-pound orca.

The film raises questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity over the past 39 years.

"Blackfish really opened my eyes," said Heart singer Ann Wilson in a Rolling Stone article, "What they do with the orcas is essentially slavery."

And there's the DUMB part!


Slavery is a system under which PEOPLE are treated as property and forced to work.

If we were to extend this definition to animals, it seems to me all you dog owner's reading would be slave owners (making poor Fido roll over and sit and catch a ball without due compensation).

And maybe even us cat owners, although anyone who has ever owned a cat knows that it is certainly a matter of debate as to who owns who (or is it whom)?

But come on, Ann-slavery?


It's a big friggin fish!

Okay, I know it's a mammal, but the alliteration works better the way I typed it.

Just because they made a cute little movie with a Michael Jackson song (Free Willy-remember?), everybody thinks killer whales are the mistreated foster children of the aquatic world. 

That's right, Blackfish, you were twenty years late to the party!

The point is, based on the picture below, both trainer and whale appeared content with their relationship.

Yes the attack was unfortunate, but it seems to me the whale got the better of that exchange.

I've been to Sea World, and the staff seem to have a true affection for the fish (mammals and fowl, too).

But if it will make Ms. Wilson feel better, I say we organize a union among the Sea World aquatic life so they can collectively bargain.

Ten fish a day is not a living wage. 


  1. First off, I haven't seen the film "Blackfish" so these comments are made without that information.

    Slavery was definitely a poor word choice. I hope that she regretted it the moment it left her lips.

    Places like Sea World (which includes Sea World and zoos) all strive to give wild animals the best possible life in captivity. In the case of SW, they train the animals to perform (because they are smart enough and capable) in front of an audience. During this performance they are rewarded with fish as treats, so I suspect that they don't mind a bit. I had a very smart dog who loved to do tricks for treats. She always rolled over and then anxiously awaited the treat that followed. I don't think she felt manipulated or used in any way... and certainly not mistreated.

    However, that said, animals that are meant to live in the wild ARE different from domesticated dogs and cats. I have wondered each time I went to a zoo if the animal would prefer to be back in the wild. Some environments are just not hospitable for all animals. They want arctic cold and the zoo is in Florida. You get what I'm saying here.

    And then I ask myself, "Would they fare better in the wild than here?" That answer is most certainly "no." It's survival of the fittest out there. And that goes for the ocean, too (and the Sea World animals). You are either eating or being eaten. Yikes. Then I ask myself, "Would an animal who has lived in captivity or raised in captivity survive for long if released back to the wild?" And I tend to think not. Animals, like all living things (inc. people), tend to adjust to whatever standard of living they are at.

    Circling back to where this post is going (I think)... all of these performers are boycotting Sea World because they believe that the animals are suffering there. Maybe they should read some studies on animals raised in captivity and released to the wild. Or release some into the wild and have Nat Geo cable channel watch on camera so that the kids can see their favorite zoo (and SW) animals eaten by another animal that has never left the wild. The mantra would change again: "We must protect them since we raised them here. They are like lambs to the slaughter out there."

    People are swayed so easily by whatever opinion someone else expresses - and puts in a movie. It would be nice if everyone started thinking for themselves.

    1. Agreed, Robin-

      I have not seen the documentary, either, and I probably will at some point, but I suspect it will have all of the journalistic integrity of a Michael Moore piece.

      Every time I have been to any aquarium, and the one time I went to Sea World in California, the people there seemed to truly love the residents. Ditto for every zoo I have been to.

  2. This must be the doc that my son was telling me about a few weeks back. It does seem like SeaWorld has some explaining to do about how they treat the whales, and visitors have a bit to think about as to what their "entertainment" costs the animals.

    But yeah, slavery is way over the top. Whatcha gonna do when everybody's insane?

    1. CW-as I mention above, I plan to see it, but have doubts about the integrity of the film.

  3. Time when we were all
    Trying for free
    Met up with porpoise and me
    No right, no wrong, your selling a
    Song - A name
    Whisper game.

    And if the real thing don't do the trick
    You better make up something quick
    You gonna burn it out to the wick
    Aren't you, Barracuda?

    "Sell me, sell you" the porpoise said
    Dive down deep to save my head
    You...I think you got the blues too.

    All that night and all the next
    Swam without looking back
    Made for the western pools - silly fools!

    Ahhh, "silly fools". Couldn't-a said it better m'self!

    I wonder if the Sisters Wilson gave some of their song royalties to the Barracudas. Or did they just use the po' fishy's names without any sort of compensation whatsoever?

    I think Barracudas of the world ought to unite and file a class action lawsuit against the Sisters Wilson.

    Don't worry too much about missing a Heart concert at a SeaWorld. You can always catch them live on stage at Big Chief Wampum Casino. I understand they're the opening act for the Puppet Show.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Great lyric-has all the makings of a single...All you need is a driving guitar riff that will repeat a lot throughout the song instead of a proper chorus...

      Never mind unborn children, we gotta worry about the orcas!

  4. 'I suspect it will have all of the journalistic integrity of a Michael Moore piece.'

    I read this post and the comments along with your replies earlier and keep giggling over this particular sentence.

    I haven't seen the documentary either, but I remember when this happened. Orcas, aka KILLER WHALES, with emphasis on the 'KILLER' part are way up there at the top of the food chain in the sea. If you're gonna get in the water with 'em, or even be on land near waters edge it's, a 'when not if' disaster waiting to happen. If I remember correctly, at the time of this terrible 'accident', it was thought that the Orca may have thought he was simply playing with the trainer. Judging from his (the Orcas) perspective, how was he supposed to know that she couldn't hold her breath indefinitely or that her arm would separate so easily from her body.

    As to the 'slavery' issue; your piece states that these women were 'bowing out' of an engagement to play at Sea World. So, prior to the documentary they had no idea that these 'big fish' where being held against their will and forced to perform for a fer meager sardines. Give me a break. with so many serious issues in the world THIS is the bandwagon these women choose to hop on?

    Apparently integrity has a different definition in the rock and roll world. Did I just say that? Oh well, at least they aren't on National TV selling Chryslers.

    1. Do you remember ten or fifteen years ago some guy climbed into the lion's den at the Bronx Zoo?

      The lions pretty much left him alone, but then papa lion got curious and sniffed the new guy.

      New Guy swatted the male lion.

      The male lion swatted him back.

      The male lion won.

      You nailed it-these are not pets, they are WILD ANIMALS, and things like this can happen.

      That may be a reason to not have a park like Sea World, but likening the animals' treatment to slavery is just plain dumb!

  5. I DO remember that particular 'stupid human trick'.

    It appears that some people think they are smarter than the average predator because they have opposable thumbs. Apparently, this gives them license to NOT use the 'grey matter' floating around in their skulls.

    'Too Dumb to Live' - I must be developing a real sick sense of humor, because I'm loving these blog posts a little too much.

    1. Well I really don't mean we should euthanize all the dumb ones....besides, they are reproducing at a far more rapid rate than the smart ones, so the idjits are pretty much going to inherit the earth!

  6. When I was in Thailand I was amazed by the stupid white people that were "enraged" over the monks that had elephants. For a small donation to the temple you could play with a baby elephant, or ride an adult around the forest, etc. Not only were the elephants treated kinder and more generously than some people, but the money that was raised went to keeping the elephants well taken care of. Those elephants LOVE being there. What more could you ask for, you ingrates?

    Also, I'm not sure where I heard it (stand up comedian?) but someone said something along the lines of what you implied above. "Pets are pretty much just animals that you take hostage until you force them to love you." He was joking, but apparently some people take this to heart.

    1. Animal rights activists simply take it too far.

      I do not condone animal abuse, and perhaps killer whales would be better left in the wild.

      But as Robin points out, what are the odds of animals raised in captivity being released into the wild and surviving?

      I have only been to Sea World once, so maybe the documentary has merit-I don't know. But every other zoo or aquarium I have been to is staffed by people who love the animals and sea creatures. Short of the wild, I cannot think of them being in better hands.

  7. As a fan of the good old-fashioned circus I think humans are the masters of animals and we are to be good stewards of their well-being. Some people never get to actually see certain animals other than in a circus, zoo, or similar environment. If we aren't able to be exposed to the intelligence and the abilities of animals then they will become mythical entities in our minds like unicorns and dragons. Trainers should be held liable for cruelty if they abuse their charges. Since these animals are the payday for animal acts and exhibitors it would be stupid for the owners to hurt them.

    Slaves? Well that's pretty silly.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  8. I don't think the "slave" term was dumb at all. Those Orcas are kept in captivity and forced to work for their owners as entertainers. (You think the Orcas have natural instincts to swim around a pool and jump when told?).

    Dogs are not slaves, as they aren't used (in most cases, anyway) by their owners for financial gain.

    Anyone who can't understand what she meant by the term "slave" yet calls anyone dumb is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    1. Can see why you went as anonymous. NO animal is a slave. They are not sentient in a way a human being is. It is not another killer whale enslaving them. I don't deny what they do to them can be termed wrong. But I'll bet there were a lot of slaves that longed for the comforts that these mammals get from sea world. Only idiots that have no true conception of the term slavery can compare the two.

    2. Anyone who can't understand what she meant by the term "slave" yet calls anyone dumb is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black.

      I guess it would almost be as bad as leaving an anonymous comment when you go to insult someone!

      But I welcome your stopping by and commenting, even if we obviously disagree on this one. Since I do not know your name, I'm dubbing you Anon.

      When the first dogs and cats were made pets, I wonder if their natures were any less wild than the killer whales. Anon, do you think those dogs and cats at the shows with the ribbons and all that nonsense aren't thinking "I'd rather be eaten by a killer whale right now?" Especially the cats-dogs will do anything for a treat (the who-ers).

      Anon, I think the literal definition of slavery would preclude you from applying it to an animal. And yest, I took an extreme literal position for this post for humor-I really do not wish Ann Wilson any ill will or I wouldn't own all of her recorded material (and have pre-ordered the new live CD that comes out on 2/25-also on DVD and Blue Ray).

      But to your point-do I think a killer whale captured as an adult would rather be free or live at Sea World?

      Well, I can't answer that one-the workings of the orca mind are mysterious and deep.

      Hasn't it been forty years since Sea World looked to the ocean to populate their tanks, and wouldn't these whales fare poorly if they were released?

      Do you feel the same towards all zoos, or is it the fact that they are doing tricks for an audience's enterainment that is the difference maker?

      I must admit that I question your use of the word "forced" in this context.

      I have never heard of Sea World using anything other than positive reinforcement (i.e.-fish) when training whales-not sure if the documentary brings that to light.

      Unless there is abuse I am unaware of, I am not sure that killer whales are being "forced" as much as "trained".

      As Dawn Brancheau tragically learned, killer whales can be headstrong and there is a reason they are called "killer" whales.

      I grew up calling them killer whales, although everyone seems to want to call them Orcas now. I guess that must be the new politically correct terminology.

      Is that kind of like the Indian/Native American thing?


    3. CW-

      I still think my idea to unionize the whales is a good one-although they will have a heckuva time holding the signs up on the picket line...