viewer discussion



should captive whales & dolphins be set free?

Dear FRONTLINE,
I thought your program on the capture of Killer Whales was quite interesting and well done. It is tragic that the human race can be so incredibly unfeeling and irresponsible. I cannot understand how we can violate, with such disregard, the sacred rights of any living thing.

Unfortunately, it is clear that the capturing of Killer Whales is done for profit; but, I think there is even a larger issue that your program did not address: the growing degeneration of our oceans. There appears to be a vicious circle of wildlife capture, pollution, and over-fishing.. The last two areas (pollution and over-fishing) appear to create the need (and excuse) to capture animals, like Killer Whales, in order to save them from their damaged environments.

I strongly advocate releasing all of the Killer Whales (and prohibiting the capture of wild Killer Whales), but let's make sure that we go all the way in our environmental pursuits. In my opinion, we need to leave all animals in their natural environments. But we must make certain that we take great care of our oceans (not to mention our parks, mountains, streams, rivers, lakes, forests, etc..) in order to ensure that they are fit places to live and prosper.

P.S. When are humans going to understand that they are neither the only, nor the most important creatures that reside on the planet? Until we adopt this basic philosophy, we will never truly respect other creatures.

Kevin S. Erbe
speechwriter@MSN.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was disappointed in the Frontline program on whales in captivity. There were many claims made by anti-captivity advocates that were either completely unsubstantiated or false to fact. It seemed to me that a double standard was employed in delving into both the backgrounds and claims of those interviewed, with credulous approval being given to any statement by anti-captivity advocates.

I note that Ric O'Barry has a "protocol" for the rehabilitation and release of captive marine mammals that is incorporated into the web page here. The text looks remarkably similar to a post made a couple of years ago on the alt.animals.dolphins newsgroup by George Elston, claimed to be posted for Ric O'Barry. What is not clear from the current text is that O'Barry had the opportunity to implement his protocol, and what the result of that experience was. A clue resides in the final lines of the text, where O'Barry discusses the shape of freeze brands to be applied to "Luther" and "Buck". Both of the named animals were formerly captive dolphins who were "rehabilitated and released" under O'Barry's supervision, having been resident at the Sugarloaf Inn and Restaurant in the Florida Keys for some months prior to their release on Memorial Day, 1996. The Memorial Day holidays are noted for high boat traffic in the Keys, and soon reports of bottlenose dolphins following boats begging for handouts began coming in, despite O'Barry's claims to have extinguished such human-dependent behaviors. Both Luther and Buck were recaptured by the combined efforts of various government agencies when it became apparent that they were far from transitioning back into the wild state. While both had lost weight and sustained injuries, Buck's condition was deemed so serious that he could not be transported away from the Dolphin Research Center at Grassy Key. As far as I know, both animals are still in captivity.
The Sugarloaf experience is not one which is often made a topic of conversation with proponents of captive release. Many of the issues which were made clear in the Navy's report on the feasibility of release programs for captive marine mammals were either ignored or openly derided, which served no
one's best interests.

Two years back or so, I responded to the claim made then that O'Barry had participated in a dozen successful releases (where success meant that the animals were doing fine in the wild) by asking what evidence there was in each case that the animals who were released were actually doing fine in the wild. The response was that one of the animals continued to be seen to the present time, and that another had been sighted as long as two years after release. As for the other ten animals, I have since received no word of their fate, or how it is that we can be assured that they are, in fact, doing fine in the wild.

The importance of continued monitoring efforts after release cannot be underestimated. Without the ability to track and confirm the status of individual released marine mammals, there can only be uncertainty, not optimism, concerning their fate. While a volunteer for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, I was involved in the release of "Charlie", an Atlantic spotted dolphin, who had a satellite tag attached to his dorsal fin prior to release. The tag was designed to self-detach after a few weeks. The satellite data indicated that Charlie's movements had placed him back in the natural deep-water habitat for his species, and that he was ranging up and down the Texas Gulf coast, indicating continued good health.

While no visual re-sighting of Charlie was possible before his tag detached, an observation boat in the latest vicinity of a satellite fix was able to confirm the presence of a group of spotted dolphins. Without this sort of data (and ideally more extended data), believing that all released dolphins are automatic success stories is simply wishful thinking.

Wesley R. Elsberry
Graduate Student, Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University
http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry/marspec.html

Dear FRONTLINE,

First of all, thank you for your very informative and factual program. I was inspired to comment on this issue after having read the letters submitted by viewers. I am very outraged at how many people were offended by your program!

Some people actually believe that it's beneficial for humans to have these amazing creatures in captivity to educate us. Perhaps someone should reflect the opinion of the world's most revered marine wildlife expert, Jacques Cousteau. Jacques was disgusted with "marine amusement parks" as everyone should be. Maybe these people who believe that this spectacle benefits humans should take heed to the words of Jacques Cousteau, afterall, I would guarantee that they are much less informed on marine issues than he was. He was a very knowledgeable man with several decades of sea venturing experience under his belt, enabling him to make educated and appropriate decisions about the destiny of all marine life. So if you are unwilling to believe the owners of Sea World or the animal rights activists you have another alternative, listen to the unbiased, educated individuals. Hey, maybe you'll learn something in the process!

Jennifer
San Luis Obispo CA
blackxross@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your show, last night, regarding killer whales, etc., overlooked several things:

1. The Humane Society of the U. S. (HSUS) is not a humane society: it is a group devoted to ending hunting, even though it is in favor of exterminating millions of animals each year. It just wants to be in charge. It opposed the decision of CITES to allow elephant hunting, even though the presidents of every south Saharan nation spoke in favor of the changes. Apparently, HSUS knows more than the locals. This is an arrogant, imperialistic attitude. They are not the ASPCA and are not the "humane society" with which most
folks are familiar.
HSUS would rather see animals starve, than hunted. How humane is that?

2. While these whales are tremendous, they are still just animals, no different from rats, deer, fleas, or fish. They deserve respect, as do all animals, but are not sacred. Animal rights activists use cute animals to promote their causes. They ignore pests and vermin.

3. The most money being spent on these animals is being spent by those with economic interests in the animals. This is also true for elephants, deer, rhinos, etc. The anti's spend little on habitat or conservation: they just make noise.

If the anti's were willing to put their money where their mouths are, there would be plenty of every kind of critter and every type of flora.

Thanks.
Riecke
Houston, Texas
RBaumann@att.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I loved what your program had to say and I have only one comment to make. When humans break the law and commit a terrible crime they are sent to a prison cell. Therefore, what was each and every marine mammals crime to be sentenced to a life in a prison cell. Also, when humans are put on display in a circus they do so by their own free will and are not in any danger except that which they put onto themselves. Marine mammals are forced to perform for their dinner. They are not asked if they wanted a life in captivity, and they are not asked if they want to perform. These animals have no right being in a cage any more than I do. I have committed no crime therefore I am not in a cage, but the poor "rescued" animals from Japan are sentenced to a life of captivity in a millisecond. These animals are picked for their sex and age and nothing more. They are not picked to be "saved" but to be used.

Bravo Frontline. The truth had to be told!!
The Truth WILL set them free!!

Colleen Muldoon
Melbourne, Florida
muldoon@winnie.fit.edu

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched your recent story regarding Keiko which was presented on 11-11-97. This report was the worst piece of so-called journalism I have ever seen aired on a supposedly educational network.

The report wandered all over the place and presented so many half truths and inaccurate pieces of information that I would be amazed if anyone watching this program would have any idea what the point of the story was. The program spent an inordinate amount of time harping on the management of Seaworld. Anyone in California who watched in horror when Seaworld purchased Marineland and killed half the marine animals in transporting them to San Diego could have told you they were a very poorly run operation with little regard for the animals in their care.

However, this is academic since the management of Seaworld has changed since the purchase by Anheiser Busch. So, therefore continually interrogating the current staff of Seaworld about previous practices was a pointless exercise. You inferred that their expressed lack of knowledge about these practices is proof of their guilt. This makes you guilty of yellow journalism and conspiring to deceive the public. Pulitzer would proud of you.

I also found your interview with the director of the Humane Society a farce, since the Humane Society is the least humane organization in the world and their practices are the ones you really should be investigating. I am totally against the absurd myth that is being perpetrated that releasing Keiko back into the wild is a feasible plan.

1. Keiko is too old and has spent too much time in captivity for this to be realistic.

2. Keiko has lost his social skills that would allow his pod to accept him.

3. Keiko has no survival skills and no hunting skills.

4. Even if all the above were not true, Iceland has categorically stated

they will not allow his release in their waters.

Finally, the purpose of your report is obscure at best and inflammatory at worst. I would suggest that before you report on a subject, RESEARCH IT!

Mrs. Sharon Sifuentes
Ventura, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

How can SeaWorld say they're saving them?! By buying whales from the Japanese Kill-Drives, they only give them more reason to do more. I was watching your program last night, and it sickened me to see such beautiful, intelligent creatures slaughtered like that. Anyone who is sick and twisted enough to kill those poor marine mammals should be convicted. It's MURDER!!! Those animals who are in captivity, if possible, should definitely be set free. Movies like "Flipper" and "Free Willy" promote animal kindness and freedom, but in reality, those animals are prisoners of the Amusement park business. We should educate the public of what really goes on behind the scenes at these so-called "Amusement parks." I congratulate you on doing so.

Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have watched Frontline for years, and I have never seen such a one sided attack on an industry like the one displayed last night, on Sea World, and similar marine aquariums. Sea World only makes money because we as a society support their business. To attack them in such a manner as you did last night, and to claim that this is reporting only categorized you with shows such as Jerry Springer and Geraldo.

Including the Press Release that was written about this show which basically said "We are going to slam Sea World and it's industry, make sure to watch!!" was the most unprofessional thing I think that could have been done for this type of broadcasting program.

Also, to criticize an entire culture like you did on the Japanese last night was so hypocritical. We as an American society are none the better. We kill cattle and pig by the millions for food, so that butchers may make their money, and so that we as a society can eat, but you don't seem to have a problem with that!

The Japanese don't have the land to raise cattle nor animals of the like for food purposes, so they just rely on their natural environment, such as whales and dolphins. Who are you to judge what a culture and society may decide to eat? Don't you see it to be more sickly to actually raise animals to be killed than to just hunt animals in their natural setting for food and survival...? I think that before you do a show on this industry and it's like, and other cultures you would like to bash, you need to evaluate your own tactics, and that of our society first.

Sea World may have lost a few of these animals in the capturing process, but society doesn't expect that these animals just swim into captivity, and of course animals die in captivity, but we as an educated nation understand this, and still, Sea World is a muti-million dollar industry, and for you to attract them they way you did on national television is the most absurd claim for a documentary I have ever seen!!!

Julie McCullough
choppurr@hotmail.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Many ethicists now belabor the "ethics" of zoos and theme parks in anthropomorphizing animals in circus like sideshows. Isn't that what we're doing when we allege that these same animals have individual rights on par with those of human beings. While I might believe that an animal species has the "right" to exist and not be synthetically extinguished, I do not believe that the individuals have the significant "inalienable rights" that humans do.

Our ancestors have "killed and exploited" wild populations for millennia. Is the current mass slaughter of domestic species more ethical? Are we now to apologize for our position as the dominant species? Genuine animal cruelty is a simple matter of bad human character. Why do we insist on confusing that with the superposition of human rights onto animals that large segments of the world's population wouldn't think twice about eating.

Dear FRONTLINE,
An important and disturbing program. I hope your program prompts people to re-examine their relationship to other beings to see how we contribute to their pain and suffering. Unfortunately, whales have been romanticized garnering significant levels of support world 'round. Yet, can we as a species face the pain and suffering we inflict upon billions of other creatures daily in our vast unnecessary over consumption of them? I applaud Frontline for exposing the carnage. I hope that Frontline and other media would take the bold step of examining the cruelty towards animals that most Americans have not confronted within themselves. How are we any different that the scenes shown of the Japanese killing of whales and dolphins? How can we condemn their cultural practices without looking in our mirror as well? Your piece on whales only touched the tip of a whales tail in regards to the needless pain and suffering we impose upon others.

Mike O'Brien
West Rutland, VT
sky@sover.net

Dear FRONTLINE,
I commend frontline for asking the same rhetorical question that plagued me after my children watched "Free Willy": How can we justify making movies about freeing whales while using captive whales in the making?

In my opinion, neither side of the argument is being totally honest. The aquariums see monetary profits as a side benefit of their "benevolent" research and the activists of the humane organizations would lose the funds that flow from fat cat contributors that drive those type of organizations.

Without some kind of controversy for which they can carry the banner proclaiming the moral high ground Activist would not have a reason to organize. An interesting phenomenon occurs with the marine mammals in that it really amounts to infighting among groups who would join sides against any kind of consumptive harvest that were to occur if such practice were allowed in American waters. Once again, as in the case of the wolves, the spotted owls, the Columbia River Chinook Salmon, and heaven only knows what other species; the creature gets caught in the middle of a power struggle that is more destructive than beneficial. Activists hell-bent on preserving a static view of nature will stop at nothing to free an animal that is no more a part of nature than the walls that confine it, and profits that can't afford to send their bread and butter out to sea for better or for worse. Maybe all involved would do well to step back and look at the true nature of their involvement and ask themselves the same sort of question you and I did instead of starting a propaganda campaign that is destructive to both the animal and our society. A lot of little boys and girls in the world truly believe that Willy is out to sea.

How much more political spin and intellectual dishonesty can this world survive?

Martin Guth
Soldotna, Alaska
Deena@Alaska.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank You Frontline for this hard look into an inhumane industry! Surely the best way to take down the money making giant SEA WORLD is to educate the public on what REALLY goes on behind the scenes. Your look at this industry was not sugar coated as many programs these days are.....thank you again for a great job! IF ANYTHING CAN LIBERATE THESE ANIMALS IT WILL BE THE SIMPLE TRUTH.

Jennifer Tipton
Louisville Kentucky
Jennifer_TIpton@MetroNetworks.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

It absolutely sickens me to know there are people out there who presume to have the right to take these incredible creatures out of their natural environments. Only to put them in the "Amusement" Parks to turn a profit!! That they try to justify this outrage under the guise of Education, is disgusting! I personally will never put a dime into any of these parks or any company affiliated with them. Kodak at Marineland In Miami. Where Lolita is a prisoner, Anheiser Busch at Sea World where many are captive, and any other Corporate sponsors have definitely lost this consumer's dollar! Please send me info on any other sponsors so that I may ban their products too!!!!! It is time that the public takes a stand on this issue and hit the parks where it hurts. Their pockets!!!!! Although I was completely appalled at some of the sights on your program, I am sure that it impacted lots more people than the parks have. Thanks for finally bringing a subject so close to my heart to the light of day.

Respectfully,
Julee K. Hill
Orcawtchr@aol.com

Dear FRONTINE,

As I sit here and continue to watch this program, I find it very difficult to understand the concepts on which the people involved with the direct incarnation of wild animals have got to take a step back and examine the difference between being humane and needing the o'mighty dollar. It appears to be all about money for these people.

When I was a child growing up in Santa Clara, California, I always knew that if I really wanted to see these wonderful mammals and wild animals, I could always view animal programs or books. The Discovery Channel was one of the most informative and educational experiences I've ever come across. To this day, both of these resources continue to be a major source for, not only myself, but for my children to gain knowledge concerning wildlife.

What we have to understand is that our wildlife is NOT going to be saved through zoos. They should be left to breed and prosper in their own environment. with our protection. Protecting them in a zoo or any of our variety of "Marine" or "Sea" anything won't work. These creatures are completely out of their natural environment, and not likely to be at a highly functional level.
Please, stop the slaughter of ALL wildlife!

Would you consider yourself "SAFE" in the environments provided, let alone inclined to "breed"? With an audience" "Sex is not a spectators sport"!

Thank you,
Jan Louise Condran

Dear FRONTLINE,

I found the journalistic quality excellent, the video both terrifying and gratifying, the depth of coverage was penetrative, and its representation of the issues broad and unbiased. We live in a world where humans balance survival, entrepreneurship, family survival and personal growth.

If there was any desperate element, it was the basic lack of a philosophical underpinning, i.e. the thusness of our existence. The conflict between our basic goodness and our neurologically hardwired, omnivorus search for food, security and a benign environment. We raise and kill domestic animals, What's the difference, i.e. if we exploit native environments and "free" mammals? Our mindset? Our "green" perceptions, and this from a man who loves cheeseburgers and rib-eye steak. I will need to work on myself in order to develop the field of awareness for further comment, but I do believe that everyone's point of view was reflected or displayed.

Did the "Free Willy" producers do this for nothing or were they not pandering to a different sort of lower common denominator? Your questioning of them was rather accepting, light weight, and trivial, Maybe a major flaw in the documentary and a sort of propaganda for the activist movement. So I wrestle with eating fish, when every day I eat brain, heart and sinew.

Thanks for the viewing opportunity:
Jim

P.S. Your wolf documentary was better quality, more thought provoking and better visually. A figurative 10 where this was about an 8. But then only Bo Derrick was ever perfect.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I may not know what type of program Frontline is, but I think that the program today on captive whales was totally one-sided on the side of pro-release people. I think that having whales and the like in captivity is important to their survival.

I do think that more information needs to get out from the actual aquariums to the public about the facility and their policies. A good follow up show should be done on current advances in the aspect of keeping these animals captivity to give the people a chance to show that not all the so-called facts are what they seem. I also doubt that "Flipper" had committed suicide as stated by her trainer. Never once was the cause of her death ever revealed, besides know person knows what these animals think because of the communication barrier.

Sean Jacob
Camrose, Alberta, Canada
jacobs@bach.augustana.ab.ca

Dear FRONTLINE,

It sickens me to see what we, as humans have done to these animals and all animals that we have placed into captivity. Those people in the industry make excuses in saying that they are educating..but how would they feel if the tables were reversed? If some higher being was able to snatch them from their homes and families in order to educate their own kind. Something tells that then, their opinions of it would be different. I have always been an advocate of animals, but my passion is marine life. I would love to see Keiko set free..this would send a message to people everywhere that it can be done and then the pressure would be placed on all the marine parks to release their "collection". It sickened me when the spokesperson for Sea World made that statement. You collect baskets or books..not whales, dolphins, seals or walruses. Yes, I would love to see Keiko released, but only if it could be done safely for the whale. The bottom line is that he never should have been taken from the ocean in the first place. I have seen whales and dolphins both in captivity and in the wild, and the immense joy I felt was seeing them in their habitat. I revisited Sea World as an adult, wanting to experience some of the joy of my childhood, but I found none. I shed tears watching the Orca's perform in the tanks that seemed too small for a creature that large. It was never the intention for these animals to be placed in tanks or they never would have been in the ocean in the first place. They belong to the sea, not to Sea World or to us. We, as humans, seem to want to conquer, and we have. But at what cost? At the animal's cost..torn away from their families and all that they know to be an exhibit in a park that brings in millions of dollars each day. I read somewhere that placing an Orca in a tank was the equivalent of a human being living on an elevator. So lets take all the people who do not have a problem with these animals in captivity and put them in an elevator to spend the rest of their lives and they can know first hand how all the whales feel. Maybe then, they would get a clue to exactly what it is they have done.

Kimberly Stolins
Hagerstown,MD
keiko1@ibm.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for bringing the cruelty of captive mammals to the eyes of the public.

As human beings we think we own the world and destroy most of it in the name of greed. God gave human beings a highly evolved brain, yet we tend to use so little of it. What gives us the right to enslave any species for any reason, whether it be money, research or entertainment, etc. The only time it seems necessary at all is when we as the intelligent beings we are suppose to be, try to save an endangered species from disappearing from this earth. We are, after all, all God's creatures.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Shamefully, I have seldom reflected on the issues of this evening's program before tonight....no longer.

While there are many who duly deserve our reproach for their role in the animal entertainment/exploitation industry, I can't help but feel that the public display of Orca's is a heinous, reflective commentary on our society.
With our pocketbooks, we each play a role in herding those pods and families into the drive fisheries and nets. The rationalization of "saving" these animals is tragic....and only reinforces how thick humanitarians like Sea World think their audience is. This "promise" of rescue...the "promise" of a loss of every liberty and natural instinct granted with birth. That these mammals strive so hard to please and entertain while in captivity should bear witness to their advanced emotion and societal nature. How shallow can we be to disregard this?

By taking every dollar we spend at Sea World and devoting it to non-commercial marine researchers, we could learn far more than by watching them swim and leap about in swimming pools. Martyrdom has historically been a choice....not so for these. We should be ashamed of ourselves for choosing & accepting the sacrifice of such beautiful creatures for our own superficial entertainment.

Thanks for a wonderful and disturbing program.
Bill Morrison
Dallas, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for a very valuable and educational show. My opinion on Keiko is that he should stay where he is. I feel it is in the best interests of everyone including Keiko. My first concern is for Keiko, and I think he is happy enough where he is, serving as a good will ambassador endearing himself and his species to the public who cannot help but love him and will want to preserve his species from any harm. His best role now is as this important goodwill ambassador. I believe it also would be quite traumatic for him to be moved once again, and he would probably have a hard time adapting to the wild again, getting his own food, and bonding with other killer whales. On top of that it would be the ultimate tragedy if he got caught and killed in a net or got sick from all the pollution in the waters. I am convinced that Keiko should stay where he is. I also feel that it's OK under strictly controlled guidelines, that in general, performing killer whales, along with their performing humans, serve and incredibly important roles in reaching out to others and touching their audiences' hearts, and only positive things can come out of that, ie. LONG LIVE KILLER WHALES! LONG LIVE ALL WHALES!

Dear FRONTLINE,

Never before have I been so aware of a case of yellow journalism, as after viewing your program about the whales. I used to believe programs that I would view on PBS, and treat them as educational in nature. No longer will I do this.

PBS has wrecked their reputation in my opinion, and needs to re-evaluate their political slant on stories no matter what the topic. I work in an office. I do not work with marine animals. However, being a citizen of the City of San Diego, and having spent much time in a marine environment, including parks such as Sea World, I believe many of your claims to be widely opinionated, without any fact, and largely false.

I will not permit any child under my care during my lifetime to watch PBS. You might be persuading them to be a Nazi during Sesame Street. I can no longer trust PBS.
Good luck in your television career, and until you understand what libel, slander and yellow journalism are, leave the news to CNN.

Brian Spence
San Diego, CA
briansp@cts.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

I enjoyed watching and reading your story about "A Whale of a Business" The story was hard hitting and thought provoking. I'm a very open minded person and believe there are always two sides to every story, however the interview with Susan Davis made me mad.

The image of Sea World that she was trying to show is completely false. Yes! Sea World is an entertainment park and it is in business to make money. However Sea World does not create an image to it's guest, especially children, that if you pay your thirty some dollars, then you've done your part for the environment.

People come to Sea World to have fun and to be entertained, but I bet that the majority of the people who leave Sea World go with some knowledge about animals that they did not know before, and it is up them to use it the way they see fit. I believe Sea World and other accredited zoological parks are a wonderful place for peopleto have fun, be entertained and to walk away with a little understanding about the animals that they share the earth with.

Jennifer
San Diego, CA
Gen.too@netchannel.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have watched Frontline for many years and have come to respect it as a generally fair and objective documentary series. That is why I was so disappointed with your most recent program. Your show about the whale business was not a documentary but rather a piece of radical propaganda. The views presented were not balanced, the reasons that Keiko is not a good candidate for reintroduction to the wild were never explained, and the positive side of keeping wild animals in captivity to educate and inspire the public were ignored in favor of a purely emotional attachment to one animal. Even the videography was biased; shooting the representative of sea world from above on a set of banked seats showed him in a naturally inferior position looking up to the "superior" interviewer. In association with the blatantly hostile tactics of the interviewer I could not see this as anything but an intentional attempt to undermine his standing.

There are many good reasons to keep animals in captivity, including whales. The bottom line is that institutions like sea world do a fairly good job at educating the public and they must also survive financially. Keeping whales may not be nice, but it serves an important purpose. For the record I would like to make it clear that I hold a Ph.D. in environmental biology and consider myself to be an environmentalist. I am also not naive enough to believe that truly objective journalism exists. However I feel that in this episode Frontline clearly crossed the boundary from journalism to propagandist and you should feel deeply ashamed of yourselves for airing this show under the guise of a documentary.

Sincerely,
David A. Krauss

Dear FRONTLINE,

Excellent work! I loved how the Sea World VP's looked at the end of the interview and were caught in their own lies. The footage of the drive fisheries and the captures, although difficult to watch, are absolutely necessary to understand the big picture of the captive animal industry. More, more more please on animal issues! We need to know the truth. That's what good reporting is supposed to do. And, follow the money.

Karen Benzel
San Francisco, CA
ducker.md@worldnet.att.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I feel compelled to write regarding your special " A Whale of a Business ". The report was grossly slanted toward the views of the extreme animal activists. I find it distasteful that your organization would downplay the role of important marine mammal research at the expense of a few captive animals. Furthermore, the business of theme parks is an absolute and necessary component in advancing these studies despite the public's opinion on their motives. After all when was the last time any of your viewers donated to any kind of marine research ?

Mark W. Machado
Swansea, MA
110450,2315@compuserve.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

In my view, cetaceans have no place being in captivity. They have been shown to be highly intelligent, social animals, that can swim great lengths, dive to great depths - none of which they can even closely approximate in the relatively tiny prison tanks they are kept in.

It is a sad reflection on humans that aquaria will capture these animals and, even worse, members of the public will actually pay out money to see them. What exactly have we learnt from captive cetaceans? That they can swim around in a 13 meter pool, can dive to 10 meters or so, that their dorsal fin always flops because of the lack of water pressure, and that they become so dependent on humans that they can't even remain underwater for longer than a few minutes. Let's all help end this slave trade in marine mammals.

David Knowles
Burnaby, BC, Canada
dknowles@dowco.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

The panel discussion on Tuesday's broadcast (11/11/97) seemed to focus on the question of whether animal captivity is justified if it serves our "educational" purposes. The implication is that if something is educational, then it must be a good thing.

However, it could be argued that the "freak" shows of the 1800's were extremely educational, giving the public an opportunity to view and learn more about many different human ailments. We've since come to recognize that it is barbaric to put our fellow humans on display, whether for entertainment purposes OR FOR EDUCATION. I believe it is time we learn to treat our animal friends with the same respect. Just because our human purposes are served, whether it be for entertainment or for science and education, we are not justified in capturing, enslaving, or manipulating God's creatures. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you......how many of us would like to live in a zoo?

Sue Jordan
Grand Rapids, MI
sjordan@acton.org

Dear FRONTLINE,

I found the Whales show very informative. After seeing it and hearing from Sea World, I have now decided that I will NEVER go to Sea World or any other marine park again. I am only one person, but hopefully I can persuade others to not go to marine parks either.

Jane M. Naughton
Fontana, CA
zakdorn@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

My heart says yes - they should all be set free. However considering that some of these animals may not survive in the wild, the decision to release should be made on a case by case basis. More importantly, we should make sure that no more of these animals are taken from the wild. Unless it becomes unprofitable for the corporations to capture and keep these animals, they will continue to do so. Ultimately, it is up to us, people like you and me not to support these corporations - do not go to these shows.

N. Saravanan
MI
nsaravan@pobox.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your program on Whales and Sea World. I did not know Sea World was so involved in the marketing of Whales and that the market was so big and growing.

I'm not happy for Sea World's past performance. However, there is another side of the Sea World picture that didn't get much attention and that is their efforts to save JJ and many other sea animals and birds. I think it is imperative that a truly balanced picture of Sea World should be presented.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Unless a marine animal is injured or in danger, it should not be removed from the wild. I believe that too many animals have already given their lives for human pleasure. We do not have the right to violently capture and imprison animals and force them to perform for us. Animals already captured should be released if possible. Sea World and the like disgust me because those facilities know their first priority is business. Then the animals. To align themselves with Iceland, Japan - and who knows who else - to obtain live animals is outrageous. Sea World, while entertaining, has made numerous deals with the devil. Blood is on its hands.

Robin
Honolulu, HI
rbenshimeo@aol.com

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