Growing up I was often told "The company you keep is a direct reflection of yourself" or "You are only as good as the friends you keep". I fully understood this then, and it rings even more true to me today. The most positive people can quickly become negative around the wrong group. The most passive person can become aggressive. You are judged by the friends you keep, like it or not. So, it is up to you to choose your friends wisely. If you don't, you may find yourself guilty by association...
Since the release of the award winning documentary "The Cove" we have seen many Marine Parks speak out against the film. They are upset that the move claims that they have involvement in the horrific Dolphin drives of Taiji. Facility owners, employees and supporters argue that their facilities do not take dolphins from these drives and point out that it is illegal in the US to import dolphins or whales that have been captured in this way. In 2009 Fred Jacobs, the Vice President of communication for Seaworld said "We think we're being unfairly criticized for something we're opposed to, haven't been involved with in 20 years, and when we were involved with it, it was for very good reasons," and went on to say "There was a time in our history when we took animals from this hunt, and of course we viewed it in a defensible way; they were the only animals that were going to survive. If you could ask these animals: 'Who wants to volunteer to go to an aquarium?' I think that you'd have quite a few animals that would volunteer." In part they are right, it is illegal in the US to obtain a dolphin or whale that has been caught in the wild, without special permits. But, they can not deny that not only are there loopholes in this law, but there are ways around it. It should also be pointed out that just because these facilities do not presently take dolphins from these drives, they still contribute to them. It goes back to "Be careful of the friends you keep".
In the USA if you want to own a facility that houses wild animals, you have to get a permit from the USDA. Once that permit is obtained, you are set. However there are organization that a park can become members of, that will give you accreditation. That is to say, they will give you their "seal of approval" and the park can get extra perks, like grants for the facility. Although there are many of these organizations out there, and the facility can be a part of more then one, there are a few major ones that most big facilities are part of.
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,400 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited. Only zoos and aquariums that meet AZA "high standards" can become members.
According to AZA of the 218 zoos and aquariums they have accredited, there are about 200 dolphins living in captivity. More than 75 percent of those were born in captivity. AZA has publicly denounced the dolphin drives of Taiji, and argued that they have nothing to do with them.
Most major zoo's and aquariums are accredited by AZA. Some AZA members are: all three Seaworlds, Disney World, Six Flags, the Georgia Aquarium, Atlantis Paradise Island~Bahamas, The Vancouver Aquarium, and Ocean Park~Hong Kong. AZA claims to have extremely high standards, yet some of their members have been proven to have anything but high standards. But that is a different story, maybe we will visit that topic one day.
So, Seaworld is a Member of AZA. Which is basically like a huge club, if you will. This means they are associated with all other facilities and organizations that AZA is associated with.
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
WAZA is the unifying organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. Its more than 300 members include leading zoos and aquariums, regional and national associations of zoos and aquariums, as well as some affiliate organisations from around the world. Together, they are "United for Conservation".
Like AZA, WAZA also gives accreditation. Those looking for WAZA's "seal of approval" can be either an individual zoo or aquarium or a National organisation, such as AZA. AZA is a member of WAZA. AZA receives perks and benefits from being a member of WAZA.
So, we have Seaworld, who is a member of AZA, and AZA is a member of WAZA. Seaworld is associated with all facilities associated with AZA and WAZA, receiving benefits from both groups. So, lets look at WAZA.
WAZA has many national associations that are members to their organization. One of these is JAZA.
Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA)
The purpose for establishing the Association is to promote various activities with the cooperative efforts of zoos and aquariums in Japan, thereby contributing toward the enhancements of scientific technologies and culture developments. It has 157 members, including zoos, aquariums, and other organizations. One of these members, The Taiji Whale Museum.
Need I go on? Well, I will, because I want this to sink in.
By joining a club, you are saying that you stand for all that group stands for. You understand that by joining that club you will be associated with all those who are affiliated with that club. Seaworld and AZA both claim to be against the dolphin drives, but yet,they are members of a club that not only condones it, but its memebrs actually take part in the drives.
So here you go the cold hard truth.
Seaworld+AZA+WAZA+Taiji Whale Museum=
GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION!
Seaworld is very much part of the dolphin drives, as is AZA. They can denounce the hunts and deny their involvement all they want. But as long as they are members of a group that is involved with these horrific drives, they are just as guilty. Which means every single person that walks into Seaworld's doors, to be entertained by the whales and dolphins they hold prisoner, might as well be holding a metal spike in one hand and a wooden stick in the other, because you have JUST as much blood on your hands, then the hunters of Taiji! Wait....I take that back. You have MORE blood on your hands, because if it was not for you, these dolphins would not be captured in the first place! Next time you are sitting in the stands watching whales and dolphins doing tricks in captivity, you remember the ones that are dying for YOU!