Easter Protest at SeaWorld San Diego

by on April 22, 2014 · 56 comments

in California, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

SeaWorld protest 4-20-14 za 01By Zach Affolter / Special to the OB Rag

A group of 80-100 protesters stood just outside SeaWorld California on Easter, April 20, lining the edges of the sidewalk from the lights directing the cars to a distance stretching farther than a SeaWorld tank could ever hope to reach. The bushes just outside the chain-link fences of the park were littered with plastic bags and discarded trash. A few protesters looked at the filth in disgust. A few others, just joining the group, walked over with a red light glaring above them to grab a sign, hoping the words would awaken passersby. As the light changed to green, cars whizzed on by, obeying the command.

And suddenly traffic came to a halt, the red light ordering the cars to stop. Liz Jacobelly, a San Diego resident and long-time protester, dashed to the first car in line with leaflets in hand. The window of the car slowly opened and a hand reached out to grab the dangling piece of paper. The person gave his thanks and rolled the window back up, but his curiosity was aroused.

Jacobelly moved to the next car in line. The light remained red, though the sun slightly dimmed its color. Again the leaflet was taken. The person, though curious, still remained silent and rolled up the window.

The cycle repeated again. The cars in the first two lanes moved forward and drove into the entrance of SeaWorld. A scream resonated from the park as people dropped from the top of Journey to Atlantis, then faded into silence as they splashed down to the ground.

Every now and then, a honk or two would sound over the roaring cars, someone understanding what lay behind the chain-link fence. After half an hour had passed, the number of honks grew, as if more people had become awake. Protesters of all ages continued to file in.

Jazmin Vasquez, age 11, and her sister Alexis, age 9, drove down from Temecula after watching Blackfish and telling their parents about the protest. Jazmin is writing a report for her school, Santa Rosa Academy, that states killer whales and their smaller cousins are locked up when they “deserve to be in the wild.”

She also is writing a letter to SeaWorld, describing how much she enjoyed the park at the time, how she loved the grace and beauty of the dolphins performing until she realized what lay behind the once-opaque curtain.

SeaWorld protest 4-20-14 02A few years passed after the family’s last visit to SeaWorld until Jazmin was in third or fourth grade. The next time she asked to visit the park, her mother said “no,” explaining that she had just watched The Cove, a documentary exposing the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. Not understanding what the movie was about, Jazmin pushed it aside. But in the fifth grade, her curiosity peaked and she looked up the documentary on the internet, finding out the truth.

From September through March, dolphins are driven into a small cove. Trainers fly into Taiji to select dolphins best suited for captivity, while the rest are left behind and slaughtered. The methods used are illegal even by Japanese law, despite recent modifications after the release of The Cove.

“I had no idea anything this bad could be in?icted on innocent beings,” Jazmin said. The documentary increased both her and her sister’s awareness on the cruelties behind the captive industry. SeaWorld took dolphins from Taiji until 1991 when it was made illegal in the United States, and has since remained silent about the slaughter. Jazmin and Alexis canceled their annual passes to SeaWorld and vowed never to return.

Before coming to the protest, Alexis created a petition for her school, demanding that holding orcas in captivity for entertainment be made illegal according to AB 2140, a bill recently put on interim study after a hearing in Sacramento. The bill would end the use of orcas for entertainment, SeaWorld’s breeding program, and release all orcas into sea pens or the wild if possible.

50 students from Santa Rosa Academy signed the petition. Alexis also asked her principal if she could place signs around the school, reading, “Don’t go to SeaWorld, captivity kills!”

After the words flew passionately from her mouth, Alexis and Jazmin joined the protest again. Cars continued to whiz by, only catching a glimpse of the orca crammed into a fishbowl on Alexis’s sign.

According to the NOAA, killer whales are held in tanks one ten-thousandth the 45.3 billion gallons of water, or 80 miles, they traverse a day in the wild. Orcas live far shorter in captivity than they do in the wild, rarely living over the age of 15. They are trapped in a small, confined environment facing extreme stress.

To counter this, they are fed Tagamet – a pill used to treat stress and ulcers – with their daily diet. In addition, it was recently revealed from court documents that orcas are given benzodiazepine as a sedative drug. According to the Daily Mail, it has been proven to cause “panic attack[s], out-of-body experiences, and muscle spasms” in humans. SeaWorld continues to argue that their whales are healthy and happy. In the wild, no cetacean needs a drug to be healthy.

It is no wonder these magnificent creatures, who have only attacked a human once in the wild, have attacked their trainers in over 110 instances as well as their tank-mates. They are psychologically distressed.

After seeing captive cetaceans at SeaWorld in 1980, Lindsy Van Gelder, a resident in Hillcrest, spent time kayaking with dolphins in the wild. She noticed that seeing them in captivity failed to compare with their grace and beauty in the ocean.

 “How would you feel if you were locked up inside a cage?” Van Gelder said, frustrated.

 Orkid, one of the captive-born orcas at SeaWorld San Diego, has attacked trainers on multiple occasions. According to the Vindicator, a newspaper in Liberty, Texas, she had to watch her mother, Kandu V, bleed to death 24 years ago when she was less than a year old. Kandu attempted to rake Corky II and fractured her jaw, severing several arteries. Kandu and Corky were both captured from different geographical locations and behaved poorly towards each other.

According to Dr. Naomi Rose, one of the top orca biologists, and John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld trainer, “these incidents [orcas attacking trainers] occur not because captive orcas are crazed killers, but because captivity puts trainers in unnatural proximity to the ocean’s top predator, in circumstances where these intelligent animals become frustrated and bored.”

For weeks after her mother’s death, Orkid circled around the pool, calling out and vocalizing in distress. Yet in shows after the incident the crowd clapped and cheered as she performed without her mother, as if her death was completely forgotten. But Orkid, one of the smartest cetaceans currently held in captivity (in terms of learning trained behaviors), still remembers.

52 of SeaWorld’s orcas have died, not a single one due to natural causes. When another orca is born, they are given the stage name Shamu, covering up the death of their predecessors. As a SeaWorld trainer put it when Kandu died, “The best thing we can think of to do is to get back into some sort of normal routine.”

Despite these efforts throughout SeaWorld’s history to restore order, many have turned against the park before Blackfish came out, even before Orkid was born. Ellen Ericksen, organizer of the protest on Sunday and life-long activist for both human and animal rights, said that for the past 30-40 years people have been knocking on SeaWorld’s door.

 “The animals need us,” Ericksen said, saddened. “There’s no one to help them. They can’t speak for themselves. I think we were put on this planet to be their voices and that’s why we have a voice and they don’t – and because we have a voice, we need to use it for them.”

 Initially, Ericksen’s mission was to shut SeaWorld down, but experience taught her that realistically that is not going to happen. They have a right to run a business, significantly contribute to local rescue and release, and help the local economy.

However, Ericksen adamantly believes the marine park should change its business model, ending the use of captive orcas – and all cetaceans – for entertainment and releasing those currently held captive into sea pens. SeaWorld, according to Ericksen, can still provide an educational environment for children that actually portrays the animals in their natural habitat, instead of performing tricks for a crowd.

 “I think most people come to SeaWorld because they love the animals,” Ericksen said. “They’re not thinking, ‘Oh, let’s go to SeaWorld and see animals who are being abused.’”

 Instead of this abuse, SeaWorld could display IMAXs, have trips to the tide pools, have their own whale watching boat for visitors, and still keep their rides and benefit the city from their sales and minimum rent of $10 million each year. They could become a true leader in rescue and rehabilitation, and finally speak out against the slaughter in Taiji, instead of remaining silent.

“It’s time for them to change,” Ericksen said, angered and restless.

“They [people visiting SeaWorld] don’t get it,” Deborah Stone, who lobbied for AB 2140 in Sacramento, observed.

As cars continued to pass by, a group of 42 protesters separated from the main group and marched to the parking entrance of SeaWorld. As protesters brushed against the chain-link fence, people returning to their cars stared as chants resonated throughout the parking lot.

 “Don’t believe SeaWorld’s lies!” Amy Love shouted, leading the chants. A SeaWorld security car crept along as protesters replied, “Watch Blackfish, open your eyes!”

 After waiting for the red light to turn green, the protesters crossed the street. A concrete barrier separated the outside world from SeaWorld. According to a detective from the San Diego Police Department, everything on and behind the wall is SeaWorld property.

Protesters stood right up to the cold, clammy surface of the concrete to resume their chants. The top of Shamu Stadium could be seen, towering above the buildings and trees. The orcas held prisoner were less than 100 yards away.

Kalia, a nine-year-old daughter of Kasatka, is halfway into a pregnancy according to a recent ultrasound video. Ulises is rumored to be the father. In the wild, orcas do not mate until an age of approximately 14 or 15. But in captivity, they are artificially inseminated when they are only half that age. Lora Parque, along with their close affiliates at SeaWorld, is also attempting to get Morgan, a killer whale who was rescued and supposed to be released, pregnant. And she’s only 7.

“SeaWorld’s breeding program is cruel and selfish,” Jacobelly said. “It’s just so they can make a profit. It is also forced rape. They masturbate the male orcas so they can artificially inseminate the females. They have complete control over the breeding process. It’s disgusting.”

The animals are also inbred, according to Dr. Rose.

“At least one captive son mated with his mother, producing an inbred daughter/sister,” she wrote in a blog post. “This abhorrent incest happened because the social mechanisms that keep inbreeding from occurring in nature [orcas only mate with members outside their own pod] break down in the abnormal environment of captivity.”

SeaWorld protest 4-20-14  04Stephanie Anne, another organizer of the protest, raised her fist in anger and frustration. “Shame, shame, shame on you!” She chanted on the bullhorn, a finger pointing at the marine park. One of the security guards chuckled, as if raping a sentient being was amusing.

Chants continued for another half hour until the protest approached its end. “Every single month, your jobs are doing nothing [to deter us],” Amy Nicole shouted passionately on the bullhorn. “We are growing in numbers, and we will never stop until all the animals here are released to the wild, or at least to sea pens. This is a freak show! This is a joke! This is a sea prison! There is nothing right about this! Times have changed!”

With that, Nicole turned off the bullhorn and the group slowly walked back to the intersection. The sun, overpowering the red glare of the light, slowly fell from its zenith.

The protest received coverage from NBC and ABC, and even reached the LA Times.

Chants will ring again outside SeaWorld twice in May, on the 10th and 24th. We will never go away until AB 2140 is passed and SeaWorld stops its cruelty.

Zach Affolter, an 11th grade high school student from San Diego, has been an animal activist for over four years and vegetarian his whole life. Both a video producer and writer, he is currently working on novels about Angel, an albino dolphin who was captured in Taiji, and a captured orca named Lolita. Zach is the junior activist captain of Earthrace Conservation Society’s Junior Activist Club and helps run a local organization, Protest SeaWorld.

 Photo Credit: Alison Banks

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

sean M April 22, 2014 at 10:27 am

Sea world could always ship the whale to Texas or Florida.
Good thing nobody made a movie with scary music about the San Diego zoo!


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Yes SeaWorld has threatened to do that…it is sad how they would place more stress on the animals whose lives they have already ruined. It is sad they would try to weasel their way out of doing the right thing, which is why we need legislation in those states as well! There is already a petition out in Florida, made by an 11 year old, calling for a similar bill to be passed (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/876/194/413/sign-the-petition-for-florida-senator-marco-rubio-to-introduce-a-bill-to-end-orca-dolphin-captivity/)

Once AB 2140 passes in California, the ball will start rolling and zoos will face significant pressure for change as well.


Janette Mejia May 7, 2014 at 6:05 am

you are an inspiration! keep fighting the good fight. consider boycotting the prom.


Martha Sullivan April 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

Excellent and educational writing, Zach, Thank You!


Paulo Oceans April 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

Thanx Zach <3


Cara April 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Beautiful article, Zach–your facts, writing style, focus, ability to draw in and hold your audience while leaving everyone with the a sense of purpose and passion and a deep caring mission for these magnificent orcas–all of it, extraordinary! THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR HEART AND MISSION TO SAVE AND HEAL! If you’re doing all of this at your tender age I can only imagine how you’ll shake the world in years to come…


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Thank you so much Cara, your articles have been amazing as well. Each of the San Diego 10 has a story, and a sad and tragic one that needs to be revealed to the public.

One day there will be a world with no senseless suffering and exploitation. I will never stop fighting until that goal is achieved.


SaneVoice April 22, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Glad to see the protesters just stare at the filth in disgust. I thought they cared about animals and the environment. I guess not if it involves getting one’s hands dirty.


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm

SaneVoice, several protestors were seen picking up trash in the bushes (read comments below). I did not include this information in the article because I myself did not witness it, as I was interviewing people a good portion of the protest.


UNWASHEDwalmartTHONG April 22, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Hey Sluggo, getcher lazy butt out there & pick up some trash yourself. Sure, perhaps some of us can multitask during a protest, or perhaps we all could carry cases of trash bags in our vehicles just so we can pick up trash every place we visit.
Sea World could have some of their personnel get out there & retrieve trash, & if they do perhaps they can give you a call so you can getcher trash gathering tools & pick up something also.
What a freakin’ straw man . . .


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

At the protest before this one, me and a friend did pick up trash, and a heap of it.

I take offense when you call me lazy. What are you doing to help the world? I mean this in no disrespect whatsoever, as I do not know you, but it would be hypocritical to call me, and other protestors out if you cannot answer this question.

Too many people are still sitting on the couch, not caring and ignoring the problems with the world. Getting back on the couch would be to willingly let this planet be destroyed. NO activist here would ever give up or give in.

If SeaWorld finally starts caring for real, I would be happy to assist their efforts.


UNWASHEDwalmartTHONG April 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Zach, my comment was for SaneVoice criticizing protestors for not picking up trash. That would be the strawman argument he is using.
Zach, if you are going to write, then you must be able to discern the subjective case & the objective case.
“me and a friend did pick up trash. . .” Regardless of how people speak, when you write in this manner, you appear to be ignorant of basic English grammar.
My apologies for addressing SaneVoice as Sluggo & not his given name, his baptismal name, perhaps her maiden name. If it’s her maiden name, then I will correct my address to “Slugga.”


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm

My apologies, I misinterpreted your comment. I was in a hurry, and mistakes are common when things are rushed. I appreciate you correcting me.

I also apologize for my misspelling of “protesters” in several comments, and for the typo in “inflicting.” Don’t know how that appeared. On my word document for the article, the random question mark isn’t there.


SaneVoice April 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Given your ranting posts that lack appropriate punctuation, capitalization or even some form of sentence structure, you’re really not in a position to criticize someone’s writing.


UNWASHEDwalmartTHONG April 23, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Actually, I am in the perfect position. There is quite a difference in posting comments in this section and posting an article that ought to meet certain standards, standards set forth by a body of professionals like MLA.
I have never posted an article on this website. If I ever did have an article accepted by the editor, then I assure you, the format would adhere to MLA standards.
Excuse me now; I must sweep up some ciggy butts.


Marc S April 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm

If I ever…


kalia luvr September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

ur username perfectly explains who u r


SaneVoice April 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

To answer your question, I do plenty of volunteer work to make this world a better place. I’ve participated in numerous beach cleanups (including the one scheduled for this weekend on the 26th), volunteered at the street fair and worked in homeless shelters over the holidays so ya, I do my part. I commend you and your friend on putting forth the extra effort. Had the writer seen the efforts put forth, I wish it had been placed in the article. My apologies for calling you lazy.


Zach Affolter April 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Thank you SaneVoice, I am glad you are so involved. I wish more people were.

If I had seen protesters picking up trash, I definitely would have included it. I didn’t want to fabricate any part of my article, so I left it out.

Your comment is definitely thought-provoking and I agree that more should be done to clean up and prevent trash from littering the city. SeaWorld promotes these cleanups and I thank them for that, but I felt it was interesting that there was so much trash just outside their property and right next to a storm drain. I am not saying in my article that it was entirely SeaWorld’s fault, but I am trying to show how we treat the environment like our own personal dumpsite. How people just throw stuff out of the cars (people have done that during protests before, and they’ve been fined), not even realizing that it could wind up in the ocean, sickens me.


SaneVoice April 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm

It sickens me too. You should see the amount of trash people leave on Sunset Cliffs. Plastics bags, empty beer bottles/cans, cigarette butts. Now that’s an example of truly being lazy. Leaving behind empties that are obviously lighter than when you brought them in and not even throwing your cigarettes in the empty containers.


Marc Snelling April 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm

All this talk about grammar and misinterpreting comments is beside the point. I don’t know Zach, but he is willing to not only get off his couch to participate in this action, but also inform everyone who wasn’t there by writing about it. And write about it under his real name instead of an alias. Comments from UnwashedWalmartVoice and SaneThong would mean more if they were coming from real names instead of aliases.


UNwashedwalmartTHONG April 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I fear someone will kick my four point walker out from under my boney wrists.
Sorry Marc Snelling, I shall never reveal my identity. I don’t have an alias; I have a moniker. And all this talk about anonymity has sidetracked all the issues: We are all going down. The planet has been wasted by a virus named mankind. On Tuesday, April 22 there was an excellent article by Wes Stephenson titled, “Fuck Earth Day: Let This Year’s Be the Last. Common Dreams published it.
I apologize again, Mr. Snelling, I am petty & superficial beyond belief. Thanks for goading me. Now, I feel special.
I before E except after . . .
See, maybe there will time for a chuckle.


Marc S April 25, 2014 at 5:07 am

I don’t care if you post anonymously or not. My point was just that it means more when you attach your name to your words like Zach and the other authors of SeaWorld articles have.


Marc S April 25, 2014 at 5:13 am

When I read this story it motivated me to write my own http://obrag.org/?p=82973 instead of talking about MLA standards.

If I goaded anyone it was myself.


UNwashedwalmartTHONG April 25, 2014 at 8:25 am

And I read your article, and I commend you for putting your face into the wind, no matter how harsh it is.

Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

I am glad my writing motivated you to write that article. I was not aware that there was a toxic dumpsite right next to SeaWorld. It was definitely an interesting read!

Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

I definitely agree that on our current path, the world is being flushed down the toilet. But I still believe that we can change for the better if every day, not just one, is treated as Earth Day.


Marc S April 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I agree, but would say we aren’t really flushing the world down the toilet so much as flushing the conditions that allow human beings to live in this world. We can make the whole world a desert and life will still exist with or without humans. According to scientists the world has already had five mass extinctions. Including one that eliminated at least 99% of life forms. Our existence proves how resilient the earth is.

In my opinion everything happens for a reason. Including having these orcas in tanks. They are there to teach us a lesson about how wrong it is.

Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

You’re right…thanks for saying that. That is very true. Life will go on if we bring on an extinction, but we won’t come out of it.

We had a similar discussion in our AP Environmental Science class about global warming and how the earth would correct itself, after man was gone.

It is sad suffering is necessary for us to learn, I wish it wasn’t. But it seems that is the only way our species responds to these dilemmas.

Teresa Wagner April 22, 2014 at 12:35 pm



Heather April 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Amazingly well written Zach! Accurate and passionate! Thank you for telling the truth about the performing animals being held captive at seaworld and thank you for mentioning the link of captive cetaceans to Taiji, Japan.

And to seaworld…. 50 years of abuse and torture is 50 years too many, time to change your business model and become humane. #AB2140 #emptythetanks #captivitykills


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Thank you Heather, it was an amazing experience observing a protest instead of participating in one for once. People were so passionate when I interviewed them, and it is heartwarming to know our strength is growing. Change is coming.


Marc S April 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Great to see the people keeping the pressure on SeaWorld. Reminds me of OBGO protests of 13+ years ago. Demonstrations against SeaWorld have been around much longer than Blackfish. The movie is just waking more people up.


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Indeed…it has been incredible to see the progression of this cause, among others, in just the few years I have been an activist. We shall keep on fighting!


Elizabeth Jacobelly April 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Very well written Zach. You covered so much important information. Thank you for speaking out for the cetaceans at Sea World for for all your activism. And I want to thank everyone that has a voice for animals, because they dont have one and when the animals try to communicate, people do not listen. I also saw several protesters picking up trash outside of Sea World where we were standing. We are for making our earth a better place for all living beings.


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Thank you…I had not seen protestors picking up trash, but figured some did. I didn’t want to put that in the article and have it not be true.

All over the country, the environment is treated as a dumpster. One thing I did not have room to include was the fact that SeaWorld has been cited multiple times for polluting Mission Bay.


Will April 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Zach, I think it is commendable that you took the time to write this article. However, just like the film Blackfish it is one sided. As I watched the film myself I did get pulled in emotionally. When the end credits rolled I started to question how much was the truth versus how much was manipulated through the editing process.

I made a career as a visual effects artist in hollywood. It was my job to make you believe in things that really weren’t real. I am also filmmaker and editor. I fully understand how easy it is to manipulate the truth.

The filmmakers of Blackfish did just that. They manipulated the truth in order to tell their story. (Killer Whales in captivity is bad).

In March, I had a conversation with a woman whose husband just retired as killer whale trainer at SeaWorld SD. He was never contacted by the filmmakers of Blackfish. Wouldn’t you contact someone that has over 20 years of experience working with these animals? Instead of trainers of 1-2 years.

The woman actually told me about things that I suspected weren’t true. Then told me about the website SeaWorld set up to prove the inaccuracy of the film.


Zach, did you even try to contact SeaWorld to get their side? They probably would have directed you to this site. You do your readers a dis-service by not telling both sides and be objective. Do you even realize how much good SeaWorld has done for the conservation of marine life? Look into the history of whaling.

Just know this. The filmmakers of Blackfish were rubbing elbows with Hollywood A-listers on the Red Carpet at the Oscars this year. Not protesting at SeaWorlds doorstep.


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Will, I am well aware of SeaWorld’s “Truth about Blackfish” page, and it contains an abundance of misleading information and outright lies. Referring to it would be counter-productive to good reporting, which involves stating the truth.

This was not an objective article and was never meant to be, though I still mentioned that SeaWorld has “a right to run a business,” and that they “significantly contribute to local rescue and release, and help the local economy.”

I am an animal rights activist, and the bio at the end clearly indicates that. I am representing the protest body in this article and their views, along with my own opinion. This cause, as I stated in the article, is more than Blackfish and people have protested SeaWorld long before the movie. It has kindled the fire to a raging inferno.

While I agree that people should not base their views on a documentary and that they should do their own research afterwords, as I did, Blackfish illustrates how psychologically tormented killer whales are in captivity. They are not crazed killers, but deprived of the enrichment and excitement the ocean provides.

Though SeaWorld responded, claiming many of the points of the film were inaccurate, the creators of Blackfish recently provided a rebuttal revealing the flaws in SeaWorld’s arguments.

Given, they did not mention that SeaWorld plays an important role in rehab and rescue as I did, but for the most part it played the important role in invoking the emotion necessary to open people’s minds to the facts. They could have done a better job presenting the facts, but give or take Blackfish has sparked this movement.

I have had many open-ended conversations with people who support SeaWorld, and even those who have worked there. As I said, this article is a representation of the protest body as a whole, not of SeaWorld.

There was not enough time to contact SeaWorld, and they would either not answer or feed me lies, as they fed Assemblymembers and reporters in Sacramento when lobbying against AB 2140.

Furthermore, this is a website with a bias. People come on this site to read progressive views on news and events. That is what I wrote. I thought it would be interesting to give the reader a good sense of what a protest is like and focus on the perspective of individual protesters.

There were so many topics I wished to discuss in this article, but readers have limited attention spans, even if you keep them engaged in an article. I wanted to talk more about AB 2140, the controversy around Blackfish, and SeaWorld’s side, but that would ruin my tone and theme of the article. It would be too long and too confusing for the reader. I had a good 500 words about the Blackfish/SeaWorld debate but cut it out because that was not the main focus of the article. This article is already 2100 words in length and anything too much longer would also be a dis-service to the reader.

Thank you for your comment. I did not write this for the sake of news, or even for the sake of featuring a topic. I wrote this to change people’s views, to invoke a passion, to show how passionate protesters are, and how much the cetaceans in SeaWorld are suffering. SeaWorld security was there, and I was actually going to interview them. I was even going to interview reporters from local news stations. But I was interviewing people and taking observations the whole three hours of the protest and there was barely enough time to gather the information present in the article.

I have done hours upon hours of research into this cause on both sides before Blackfish came out, before I even started protesting. I looked at SeaWorld’s misleading arguments as well as such ones from our side. I never said, for instance, that SeaWorld still takes dolphins from Taiji. They absolutely do not, unlike a few activists believe, though they allow the slaughter to continue by remaining silent and showing to other marine parks that the captive industry is profitable.

So again, I appreciate your comment, but you must understand this is a progressive website with a bias and that I wrote this with a desire for change, making it an opinion article. I knew when writing this that would be clear enough to the reader, who should do their own research after their emotions have been played. That is how SeaWorld manipulates people so easily. People, as I quoted Deborah Stone in the article, don’t get it because they are misinformed by the seemingly benign marine park.


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

In addition, I did not attempt to mislead people at any point in the article. Given, in a few areas I could improve on clarity, but I felt iffy on extending the length of the article. There is so much information, so much to tell, it becomes overwhelming to the reader at a certain point.

You cannot stop in the middle of a road when cars are coming by, you cannot stop at every twist and turn in the road.

This article is opinionated, but at least it has an informed one. I am glad you took the time to think logically, though in the end there needs to be a healthy balance between fact and emotion. I felt my article had that.


Jennifer Dumas April 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Sea World was asked repeatedly to contribute to Blackfish and they declined. So any appearance of the film being one sided is Sea Worlds fault, no one else’s.

And, of course, now that they are under a microscope, Sea World would like everyone to think that their main focus is on rescue and rehabilitation. But, in actuality, only 0.0006% of Sea Worlds annual revenue is spent on these programs.

They spend more on fireworks.

Bet they don’t tell you that on their websites.


Deborah April 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Very well written Zach. Thank You for having a loving and caring heart ?


Eric Mills April 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Thank you for your efforts and your advocacy, Zach. Nice job!

As everyone likely knows, Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s AB 2140 is still alive, and is now undergoing “interim study” at the State Capitol. The bill will probably be heard again in early 2015 before the 15-member ASSEMBLY WATER, PARKS & WILDLIFE COMMITTEE, chaired by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon. This legislation would ban orca shows, stop captive breeding, and mandate sea pens for the SeaWorld orcas who cannot be rehabbed for release. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has NO such shows, yet still draws thousands of visitors daily. SeaWorld can and will do just fine without these circus-type acts.

Other members of the committee are: Frank Bigelow, Travis Allen, Raul Bocanegra, Brian Dahle, Paul Fong, Jim Frazier, Beth Gaines, Mike Gatto, Jimmy Gomez, Lorena Gonzalez, Adam Gray, Jim Patterson, Freddie Rodriguez and Mariko Yamada. (Both Fong and Yamada are termed out this year.)


It would be good to write to the new incoming Speaker of the Assembly, too, TONI ATKINS (D-San Diego). As Speaker, she wields considerable clout, and has been a big supporter of SeaWorld in the past. She needs to hear from us. And often.

A steady flow of Letters to the Editors of newspapers around the state would be helpful, too.

Eric Mills, coordinator


Eric Mills April 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm

And a P.S. –


And Tim Zimmermann’s 2012 article in OUTSIDE Magazine, “THE KILLER IN THE POOL”–it’s available on-line.

And be sure to see the documentary/expose, “BLACKFISH,” of course.

And this: See the Oscar-winning film, “12 YEARS A SLAVE,” and substitute “animal” for “slave”–same unconscionable attitude.


kalia luvr September 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm

haha 12 years an animal


Zach Affolter April 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Thank you Eric! Keep up the good fight!


Ellen Ericksen April 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Thank you Zach for your amazing reporting skills and telling the truth about Sea World. Every time we go back we bring more awareness in educating the public.


Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 11:43 am

Thank you Ellen for organizing these protests and dedicating your time so much for humans and animals…in the end there really is no difference. We are one, though not the same.

We will never give up!


Barb Dunsmore April 22, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Beautifully written Zach. It is so wonderful to hear from the young people in this movement. Thank you!

“According to a detective from the San Diego Police Department, everything on and behind the wall is SeaWorld property.” SO NOT TRUE! This is NOT Sea World property but City Owned. Sea World only leases it and we the public have every legal right to be on public property and picket on public property, so have at it people!


Katherine Dominguez April 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Zach, Beautiful Article! Thank You for being there and documenting this protest and being a voice for the voiceless! It’s very encouraging to see our youth educating the world and fighting for what is right. You guys are the future! And thank you for mentioning the petition for Florida by this extraordinary 11 year old!

Change is Coming!


Zach Affolter April 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Thank you so much. It is so heartwarming to see so many people my age stand up and advocate for a better planet, not just for cetaceans, but all for all animals and the environment as a whole.

Much love <3


Um April 23, 2014 at 9:35 am

What is the peak time for the protests?


Zach Affolter April 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I would say around 11 or 11:30am the most protesters are present, but people come and go throughout the whole protest.


Jennifer Dumas April 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for this Zach. It’s a brilliantly written article. I am truly humbled by your compassion and resolve and look forward to seeing what your future brings to these horrible atrocities committed by Sea World and other captive animal industries. My daughter is 4 and already is learning how horrific the lives of these animals are. I can only hope that by the time she is your age there will be no more cetaceans in captivity.


Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 11:41 am

Thank you for teaching your daughter about these issues. My three little sisters are also involved and it warms my heart whenever I see someone from our generation speaking out.

I hope so too.


Trish Connors April 24, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Hi Zach, thank you for writing this very well put together article. I will share far and wide, thank you also to all of you that attended the demo. You are all doing great work for our ocean friends . Please don’t stop ..


Zach Affolter April 25, 2014 at 11:41 am

And thanks for all you do, Trish! None of us will ever stop until we win this fight!


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