Previously, you may have read my two blog posts on orca captivity, (post1: Mistreatment of Orcas) (post2: Extinction of Orcas). I was curious about any news on orcas that I might have missed for my blog post 2. In an article by National Geographics, Sarah Gibbens (the writer for the article) writes about another one of the captive born orcas dying at a young age because of infections that stem from the captivity pools. Kyara, a 3 month old orca was pronounced dead at the San Antonio Seaworld after it was confirmed she died of pneumonia. 60 percent of captivity orca deaths are caused by the infectious diseases from the park, according to the investigation done from San Antonio News. SeaWorld has since then officially ended its breeding program for the killer whales. It is a good step because the movement of the people has begun to work. Recently, Seaworld has announced to shift their park from the live whale shows into more education and animal conservation. Although, these are huge steps in ending captivity, there is still so much to do.
Picture of Kyara with her mother Takara.Another news that had been very big was that the state of Florida planned on proceeding with a bill that would end captive orca breeding. The bill has many rules to change shows or parks like Seaworld into a more educational environment, and slowly putting an end on the live orca shows. Many have argued, and even I have spoken up about the dangers of force breeding, stopping captivity born orcas would be a miracle. Also, from the bill, “An orca located in the state on July 1, 2018, may continue to be held in captivity for entertainment purposes until December 31, 2019, and may be used thereafter for educational presentations only.”, this means
by the end of 2018, in the state of Florida, there will be no more orca entertainment shows. If this bill proceeds successfully, it could inspire other states to act the same.
As I ventured deeper into my project. It has hit me that I could not easily solve it in two months. The next best thing I believed that I could do was to raise awareness so that people can get their knowledge on a topic that is not thoroughly discussed. I decided that I was going to do a fundraiser for a orca conservation organization that aids orcas. I decided on the OrcaConservancy, they are a non-profit organization that help the wildlife and environments where orcas live in. They also act to help orcas get out of captivity by organizing marches and signing petitions. They also have programs where young people can be educated on orcas and help out with volunteering.
I contacted them through email to see how they are, why they should be the one organization out of many other ones to donate. They replied in a day and said that they would appreciate a donation very much.
Picture of the response of one of the Orca Conservancy spokesperson.
I thought what a better way to spread awareness than to show a documentary to young people. I had chosen the documentary Blackfish because not only is it just a heart touching, beautiful documentary. It conveys the message of what is wrong about orca captivity, it hits many points, scientific and even personal scenarios. My goal was to have at least 10 people attend and donate. But I had actually surpassed that number which was amazing. I would charge the admission fee be $4 for each person to come to see the documentary. I also gave attendees the option to purchase a rainbow loom bracelet for $1, all proceeds of the event would go to the organization.
Planning the event was very fun, but also very stressful. The constant thought of “what if it doesn’t work out? ran through my head. Planning an event like this was all about the participaters, if there would be enough people to attend and seeing if the money raised would be even a good amount to donate. I made flyers and created my own Google form for people to take the survey so I would have a good idea of how much and who was coming to the screening.
The google form for my screening. (tinyurl.com/blackfishscreening)
After weeks of promoting, emailing, messaging, the day had come. I also moved the time from 4:00pm to 12:30pm because I had seen that on that day, was a half day. This way people didn’t have to stay super long in school. I had friends who were helping me set up the room. These friends whom I appreciate so much. There were other people that were supposed to show
up, but things happened and some people weren’t able to attend.
Setting up, when it was about to begin!
Moving around chairs and such..
Me giving a quick hello, introduction before the movie was going to start.
I sat through all of the one hour and half with everyone else. There were times where I saw some audience members could not believe what had happened in the documentary. I could also tell that people were genuinely intrigued in the documentary. Rewatching the movie for me was nice because I had miss some stuff when I had watched it for the first time. Seeing everyone’s reactions to the movie was eye-opening. I hope everyone had the opportunity to watch Blackfish. By the end of the movie, there were some people who had tears in their eyes.
Some of the audience members during the movie.
Peter Keo, someone who watched the documentary, “it was very gripping..seeing orcas go through this treatment was unsettling”
Izzy Curtin, another viewer, “it exposed many corporations like SeaWorld, it brought light to the topic.”
Caleb McCreary, viewer, “interesting to see orcas, their emotions and how they feel”
After the screening, I was still waiting some people who said they would donate. I raised $50 exact, I donated all of the $50 to orca conservancy. I was so happy that the fundraiser went well and successful.
I had the most amazing experience with this project. Although it was a very stressful project, it taught me so many things about not only orcas, but about being professional. The logistics of planning an event. I will never forget this project, I will hold it to be one of my fondest memories from school. I think I also am pretty proud of myself for the project, I worked very hard for every single part. I made friends with Jeffrey Venture through this experience, donated to a good cause and taught many people about my issue. I think I could have done something else like a bake sale or something to raise even more money. Learning and devoting my focus on orcas in the last months, gave me a new love and respect for animals. I learned that even though it is really cool to see these orca shows, or see animals in theme parks, it might not always be safe for the actual animals. At the very end of the day, animals are a part of nature. Humans have no right to forcibly take them out of their environment and use them for entertainment. My change was a baby step to end captivity, there is still a long road to go.