For those of you who may have come across a petition and other protest messages about a rave at uShaka which may kill the dolphins there, it has become clear that this campaign is driven by anti-captivity activists and is not in the first instance actually about a party near dolphins.
Read the press statement on the SeaWorld website (http://www.seaworld.org.za/news/entry/the-animals-will-be-our-prime-concern-on-new-years-eve) where South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) CEO Judy Mann says that the animals are not at risk and they will be onhand to monitor.
“As with any function held at uShaka Marine World, the health of the animals is our primary priority. We will never allow any function to be held that may, in any way, be harmful to the animals.”
Me, personally, no I am not pro captivity. I don’t go to zoos and I definitely don’t go to circuses. But I do see the role that aquariums and perhaps even well managed zoos can play in raising awareness about conservation and environmental sensitivity.
I know this is the case with uShaka given the sheer number of young school kids and other visitors who pass through the place on an annual basis as part of a sustained programme of environmental, marine and conservation education run by SAAMBR.
SAAMBR through Seaworld and ORI do an incredible amount of rescue, and save the lives of a great number of marine animals right there at the uShaka complex. There is a massive underground infrastructure that would blow your mind if you got to explore it as I have on a few occasions.
So, if there is a chance that this party will generate money that will go toward conservation, animal rescue and nursing sick, polluted and injured animals back to good health, and if it can be done without risk to dolphins and other animals – then I support it.
And I trust Judy Mann, as a scientist, and as a professional. She says she will be on hand to monitor the animals during the event personally. I believe her and support her.
As a parting note, left on a strictly personal basis, my own opinion is that alarmism of the sort that has surrounded this matter actually does damage to the cause of environmentalism and conservation.
Those advocating the issue – cited an instance where a dolphin died a few days after a party and may or may not have died as a result of the party. Further, they failed to consult the world respected and renowned Marine Biologists working at uShaka through SAAMBR/ORI/SeaWorld.
Worse still is that when Judy Mann’s statement was put out clarifying the concerns, the debate was not so subtly adjusted to focus on animals in captivity, revealing the potential genesis of the activism around this issue.
I would respect the activists more if they came out cleanly with their issue in the first place – and used the party to illustrate how animals in captivity are inevitably subject to circumstances which raise their stress levels and potentially put their lives at risk. Then if they quoted some proven research, or cited known instances that would also bolster their argument.
I urge those interested in environmental activisism to read South African journalist Ivo Vegter’s book “Extreme Environment” where he tackles environmental exaggeration and explains just how damaging it is to the credibility of the genuine campaigners for conservation and environmentalism.
If you’re an environmental activist – you should read this book. It will make you a better activist.