Veterans Day at SeaWorld!

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I think Elliott and I are still more excited than our kids every time we go to the zoo or SeaWorld, although I suppose that won’t last much longer! It’s amazing to be so close to such magnificent animals… and even to be able to touch and hold some of them. Unfortunately, my love for SeaWorld has been a little more informed and a little more skeptical in recent years (more about that later), and a visit is now conflicting for Elliott and me. I’m curious to know if any of you feel the same way?

Thanks to being in the military, we are allowed to visit SeaWorld once a year for free, and it’s a treat we’ve enjoyed every chance we’ve gotten.Β  It gets better (and worse…!) every time now that we have kids, I think. Funny how that happens. ;)

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We planned our route with the kids at the beginning of the day. Gil was really into it.

becca-garber-seaworld-12 First stop: petting little bamboo sharks!

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The dolphins never fail to delight. We caught them right as their trainers were working with them, which was like a miniature show!

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After his trainers left, this clever fellow managed to flip open the top of his treat box with his nose. He couldn’t get the box to tip over, though, even with a whole crowd cheering him on!

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My son and my daughter. Crazies, both of ’em.

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Speaking of crazy, why do we even bring a stroller if no one rides in it? Someday I’m going to climb in and make them push me.

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When I first saw the “Shamu Show” (orca performance) in 2010, it was so beautiful (Free Willy forever!) that there were tears running down my cheeks at the end of the show. However, these days it is underwhelming because the trainers don’t get in the water with the orcas anymore.

And, of course, the whale (hah) in the room is the way SeaWorld treats their animals. We haven’t seen Blackfish yet; have you? I’d like to see it, even though I know I’ll probably never want to go to SeaWorld again after that.

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All that aside, this was the cutest thing we saw all day!

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All the petting pools were amazing, and the kids loved gently touching manta rays and holding starfish in their hands underwater.

becca-garber-seaworld-14 [Fishy] Christmas decorations already?!

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And the day ended with a hilarious sea lion and otter show, definitely a highlight of the day. We were laughing so hard the entire time as the animals and their trainers danced to “Gangam Style” or acted out a CSI episode. What amazing, intelligent animals!

And that’s how we spent Veterans Day. What about you?

I’d love to know: have you ever been to SeaWorld, or do you have an opinion about zoos and parks where animals are held captive? There’s definitely a sad, not-as-it-should-be aspect to places like those, even with all the good they do for awareness, conservation, and endangered animals. What do you think?

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9 Responses to Veterans Day at SeaWorld!

  1. Tia Jess November 13, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    I finally saw Blackfish the other night….let’s just say…glad I didn’t make it to Sea World ;) But really…you should watch it.

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 2:42 am #

      Mmmhmm, saw you watched it and thus expected a comment along these lines!

  2. Sarah November 13, 2014 at 3:47 am #

    I have seen Blackfish twice. The first time I was sort of convinced but still went to sea world after. The second time, it just didn’t sit well with me. So I did some research and a lot of reading. Now I believe the documentary is inaccurate and misrepresents a lot of the situations. If you see it make sure that you read the rebuttal by one of the trainers who is interviewed in the movie and claims he was completely misrepresented. The seas are much better off with sea world’s conservation efforts and way fewer people would know and care about orcas if it weren’t for them.

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 3:53 am #

      What a thoughtful comment! I am so glad you said this. I’m even more curious to see the movie AND the rebuttal, and I’m also glad to hear the world is better off because of the awareness and programs that SeaWorld supports. Makes yesterday seem a little better in retrospect. :)

  3. Laura November 13, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Definitely do your research about Blackfish. After watching it, I, like most people, was up in arms about SeaWorld and swore up and down that I’d never go. Then I did some research and discovered that of course people are misquoted and misrepresented in the film– but aren’t all documentaries like that? Though I was somewhat reassured, I simply can’t feel right about going to a park where massive animals like Orcas are kept in captivity when they should be swimming free. I felt that way before Blackfish even became popular. But of course, it’s up to you and Elliott to follow your hearts!

    • Becca November 13, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      I think I’ll probably agree with you in the end, Laura. In an ideal world, all the orcas would swim free, but even in a messed-up world, MORE should be swimming free than are currently living in small tanks in water parks. I’m hoping to watch the film this weekend to find out more. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  4. Lauren November 13, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Yes! Blackfish was one of those documentaries that left me thinking and feeling down for days. You and Elliott should definitely see it. As someone who is educated and trained to work with animals, I think he’ll have an interesting perspective on SeaWorld and their hiring policies after watching the film. No judgment toward anyone who has visited SeaWorld, but I think you’ll be happy you guys visited on Veteran’s Day so that your money didn’t go to those executives at the top.

  5. Helena November 14, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Blackfish aired not too long ago here on BBC (in UK). I had always been uneasy about visiting places where they have huge animals confined into such small places, to be fair this goes on in lot of farming too, and the documentary definitely confirmed my views on this. Of course there are always two sides of the coin, but I just feel that dolphins, orcas and many others just do not get the quality of life they deserve whilst penned in. I also will not take my children ‘swimming with dolphins’ type of things on holiday and have explained to them why. But then knowing all of this, I should also be a vegetarian and I am not. Locally grown and high-welfare animals do pass my lips.

  6. Abi November 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    You have the big fancy stroller to carry all of your stuff, if not your kids! I could see in the photo how the bottom basket was packed, much like ours always is ;) We once pushed a big Yeti cooler in ours from the truck to our campsite… lazy? Or resourceful?

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