23 Dec

Deciding to give up cable was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  We have a Netflix subscription instead, and we are able to watch some really great movies that we would otherwise not see–a lot of them documentaries, because we are giant nerds (ok that’s probably actually just me haha). 


Today, Eric asked me if I wanted to watch Blackfish, a documentary about Sea World and the Orca that killed its trainer. 


Growing up, I was fascinated by sea animals, particularly whales and dolphins.  My family went to zoos and aquariums all over the east coast growing up, we had a subscription to Zoobooks and I was obsessed.  I wrote about dolphins, watched movies about them, read books about them.  I.  LOVED.  Them.  In third grade, we had to do a research project about a career we wanted to do, and I naturally researched marine biology.  I even went to the aquarium to talk to a trainer there as part of my research.  It was amazing. 


I think my real fascination with this was dolphins and whales (and other sea life) is that I am allergic to everything.  All I wanted as a kid was a kitten.  I had stuffed cats and dogs covering my entire bed.  They were my “pets” because it was all I could have.  So I think some of my obsession was that these would be animals that I could touch/play with/be friends with and not get really sick. 


As I grew older, I realized that a career in marine biology would probably mean moving far away from Western New York and my family.  I wanted no part of that, and so the dream of marine biology went by the wayside. 


Watching this movie makes me grateful for the waning enthusiasm for marine biology.  I would HIGHLY recommend the movie–it’s fascinating to see how they capture the whales, the way the whales attack each other, and of course what eventually happened with the whale and trainer at Sea World (and actually another place, too). 


This is a struggle that I have with zoos and aquariums, and even having pet animals.  At what point is taking a wild animal out of its natural environment, penning it into a too-small enclosure, and training it to behave the way WE want it to behave going too far?  On the one hand, I can see the point that people can learn about the animals and want to help with conservation efforts when they can see these animals close up.  But on the other hand, why do we need to see them close up to know they are worth saving, that we should take care of the environment, that we should value all life, no matter what type of life it is…


I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about animals and the way we treat them.  I think we are going to make another go at transitioning back into vegetarianism after the holidays are over.  This movie doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with eating meat, but at the same time, the way we treat animals whether it’s when we’re killing them for food or keeping them for entertainment, really sucks.  There’s a huge part of me that if/when we have kids wants to take them to zoos and aquariums, just like I grew up, to learn about animals and nature.  But there’s another part of me that isn’t sure that morally zoos and aquariums are something I should support….


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