Miami Seaquarium and SeaWorld Celebrations Seem Inappropriate – It is Time to Retire Flipper and Shamu

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snf05dol4-682_882318a ric o barry msq flipperSeaWorld is not alone in celebrating 50 years of using whales and dolphins as circus entertainment this year. Miami Seaquarium, the original film location of the popular TV series “Flipper,” is planning a year-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the television program’s first broadcast, which actually featured 5 female dolphins in the role of Flipper.

Watching from the sidelines will be “Lolita”, the lonely wild-caught killer whale who lives alone with two dolphins as companions in the family run Miami Seaquarium.

“Miami Seaquarium is very proud of its association with ‘Flipper,’ the TV series, which is a classic among TV fans throughout the world,” said Andrew Hertz, president and general manager at Miami Seaquarium.

“This TV series forever changed our awareness of marine mammals and how we interact with them.  Our goal is to commemorate this momentous anniversary with a year-long celebration with special events, community initiatives and park activities.”

Activist Ric O’Barry found the series momentous as well as he caught and trained the dolphins for the Flipper show, then watched as one died in his arms. It changed the trajectory of his life. (The video clip below is from the Academy Award winning documentary “The Cove“).

The Miami Seaquarium is calling their event “A Year Full of Wonder,” and plans the following:

  • New Flipper Dolphin Show –The new Caribbean themed show, with a new set, music and behaviors will let everyone know what Flipper has been up to in recent years.  While the show demonstrates that Flipper’s surroundings may have changed, his core commitment to helping out when there is a need has not.
    New Flipper Splash Area –In the summer of 2014, the park will unveil a new water play area, located near the Flipper Stadium, designed especially for toddlers.
    “Flip it Forward, South Florida – What is “Flip it Forward?” In the popular TV show Flipper frequently “saved the day” by helping his human companions.
    The park will be encouraging everyone to ‘Flip It Forward’ through random acts of kindness.  provides details on how everyone can get involved in making South Florida a more caring community.

“Flip it Forward” ? I can imagine that activists will have a field day with that one, it is way too close to “Flip it Off”. ‘Random acts of kindness’ is a laudable goal – the world can use more kindness, including kindness to animals such as the parade of dolphins forced to play the part of the imaginary dolphin ‘Flipper’, or the orca “Lolita” who has lived there for nearly the entire time in a tiny tank:

SeaWorld is calling its event “Sea of Surprises” and has gotten a ‘sea of surprises’ as a tidal wave of public sentiment has turned against the confinement and treatment of the orcas in their care, as revealed in the film “Blackfish“.  My guess is that the Miami Seaquarium will have a ‘year full of wonder’ as they wonder why they thought the public would embrace a half century-old business model based on circus-like animal performances.

(Courtesy Orca Network)
Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium now(Courtesy Orca Network)

Save Lolita

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