Most of us still remember about the big scandals SeaWorld has dealt with couple of years ago, when allegations said orcas were neglected and abused at its theme parks.
It appears people haven’t forgotten about the incident seeing that SeaWorld attendance and profits have been declining ever since, a trend that might have something to do with a broader change in public mentality toward animals.
SeaWorld’s third-quarter profits were way behind analysts’ forecasts, but it’s only one of the many United States businesses – including zoos and circuses – forced to deal with increasing consumer pressure to curb what people see as unfair treatment of animals. With easy access to information, comes public awareness of humans’ widespread influence on the animal environment.
Lori Gruen, a professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., explains the trend as a “larger interest in what’s going on for other animals,” something that people didn’t use to be concerned with a couple of decades ago. But the public is now questioning the kind of relationship we have with other animals.
One of the industries that see increasing pressure to change their practices is the entertainment and recreation business. SeaWorld is struggling to reduce the negative publicity that floats over its theme parks since the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.” Attendance has been plummeting ever since the company was accused of mistreating the orcas it holds in its facilities.
The public’s changing perspective about animals in captivity has affected the businesses of other organizations. Back in March, Alana Feld, executive vice president of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, announced the cancelling of its elephant act by 2018, based on “a mood shift among our consumers.”
She added that people have expressed their increasing discomfort seeing the elephant tours, which prompted the change in program. Professor Gruen also predicted that elephants in zoos will soon become a thing of the past, as customers won’t be willing to support it anymore.
But not everyone has jumped on board with the recent trend. Some say that banning animals from the entertainment context deprives people of the one of the few chances they have to interact with wildlife.
Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist from Beverly Hills, said that animals should indeed be kept in better living conditions, but it is “misguided, selfish, and wrong” to deprive the customers of their beauty for the purpose of political correctness.
Image Source: San Diego Union Trib