Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Chen » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:58 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Does a dog or whale care how many people are watching, pointing, or laughing? Does it care if the people watching paid money?


I wonder about this too. My cat seems to have fun when me or my GF play with it while the other watches it do crazy things (say playing with a laser pointer). But the cat also seems to sufficiently enjoy playing with random things lying around when neither of us is paying attention. Sure its an anecdote, but the point would be to consider if the animals consider the show to be work, or just them playing around?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:23 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Sure its an anecdote, but the point would be to consider if the animals consider the show to be work, or just them playing around?

Right, but this is kind of the point; why is having an animal do one kind of work (plowing a field to feed a family) significantly different from having an animal do another kind of work (entertaining people to make money for a company)? I can understand saying 'don't use animals for work' as a position to take, but I find it a little odd to take the position that having animals do work is ok, but having them perform isn't.
Malice wrote:Because if fields aren't plowed, people go hungry. As you basically argued earlier in the thread, sources of food are important and not easily replaced. Unlike the financial benefits of the "pointing and laughing at whales" industry.

I feel this is irrelevant; SeaWorld does more than just hold Orcas, and some of their efforts go to ocean conservation, research, education/outreach, etc. For people involved in marine biology, SeaWorld may be a venue to continue their research; in such a case, having Shamu jump and spin is as necessary as having an ox pull a plow for the livelihood of those involved. Again, of course, the activity should not be so stressful as to harm the animal, but that sort of goes without saying; personally, I wager having an ox pull a plow, or riding a horse around to herd cattle, etc, is far more tiring than having an Orca breach. And of course the argument that 'Orcas aren't domesticated' pops up, but again, we're back to the myriad species that humans keep as pets that they train to do stuff and things.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Vaniver » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:33 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Right, but this is kind of the point; why is having an animal do one kind of work (plowing a field to feed a family) significantly different from having an animal do another kind of work (entertaining people to make money for a company)? I can understand saying 'don't use animals for work' as a position to take, but I find it a little odd to take the position that having animals do work is ok, but having them perform isn't.
I thought the central problem with the orcas was the confinement- that is, a dog or cat are happy living in a sufficiently large home, but SeaWorld is not sufficiently large for an orca.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Dauric » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I feel this is irrelevant; SeaWorld does more than just hold Orcas, and some of their efforts go to ocean conservation, research, education/outreach, etc. For people involved in marine biology, SeaWorld may be a venue to continue their research; in such a case, having Shamu jump and spin is as necessary as having an ox pull a plow for the livelihood of those involved. Again, of course, the activity should not be so stressful as to harm the animal, but that sort of goes without saying; personally, I wager having an ox pull a plow, or riding a horse around to herd cattle, etc, is far more tiring than having an Orca breach. And of course the argument that 'Orcas aren't domesticated' pops up, but again, we're back to the myriad species that humans keep as pets that they train to do stuff and things.


To expand somewhat on this, having these entertainment venues raises public awareness about marine life and marine life issues. SeaWorld and similar venues have been raising money not just for their own wildlife research and conservation efforts but for many other research and conservation programs.

PETA is shooting themselves in the foot with this one, aside from their rationale being so myopic that it's justifies the elimination of service-animal programs for the disabled ("Those blind people are exploiting the eyeballs of dogs!") but it's a direct attack on programs that do a lot of public outreach specifically to raise public awareness.

The other thing to note is that most animals are healthier when they have tasks to do. In the wild animals have to be aware of their surroundings, find food, find a mate, etc. etc. In captivity a lot of the day-to-day stimuli go away and animals tend to get listless and bored, which ultimately has a negative effect on their health. Teaching animals in captivity to perform gives them a task that replaces the stimuli they'd have in the wild, especially if they're unable to be released back in to the wild for some reason (which IIRC is usually the case for most entertainment animals).
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:48 pm UTC

@vaniver:
Izawwlgood wrote:Also, I'm a little surprised no one jumped on my statement about SeaWorld not definitively doing any harm to these animals by holding them in captivity; after a bit of reading, I'm completely redacting that claim. I wouldn't call it slavery, because Orcas aren't people, but I would readily accept that it is cruel to keep an animal used to swimming hundreds of km a day, in an enclosure twice it's length. As a PR stunt drawing attention to the mistreatment of Orcas, this is of questionable efficacy. But I fully agree with Dream's statement that 'decent treatment of Orcas' and 'Orcas in captivity' is not a statement SeaWorld is capable of making, nor I in claiming.

If the issue is in fact the conditions they are being held in, than 'Enslaved' is the wrong word to be using. 'Captivity' is more appropriate. But it seems like PETA is claiming that Orcas performing are the equivalents of slaves. As you pointed out earlier, that's rather silly, given the number of animals used around the world as 'slaves', because they are pets who can do tricks, or beasts of burden, etc.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby ThunderOfCondemnation » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:59 pm UTC

When it comes to animal rights, it's hilarious how the various animal rights groups disagree over which contradictions should exist in their ideology.

The only consistent animal rights philosophies are

(a) All animals have no rights, and humans do because humans are inherently superior.
(b) Humans don't have rights either.
(c) Animals should be given the same rights as humans.

(c) is ridiculous, and (b) is ridiculous. Therefore, animals have no rights.

Yes, we are enslaving animals. Do I care, and is it morally wrong? Not at all. Animals are just another group of tools for humans to use to our own ends. (Of course, I personally believe that animals should not suffer needless cruelty or pain.)
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby yurell » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:08 pm UTC

I disagree with your ludicrous assertions which only take into account extremes. Either animals have all the rights of a human, or they have none? Talk about a false dichotomy ... there are plenty of shades between shining white and jet black. What's your argument for all of these intermittent levels of rights being 'inconsistent'?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:17 pm UTC

I think the point that PETA objects to Orcas being kept as slaves ignores the myriad ways we are perfectly fine with enslaving animals. It's been pointed out a few times by a couple people here how inconsistent the notion of granting animal rights are.

Personally, I agree; I don't think animals have rights. I think it's our duty as superior(ish) beings who have decided to utilize animals for our own purposes, to minimize their suffering (for the broadest use of the word 'suffering'), but I don't think we must do so because animals have an inherent right to not experience suffering. Or be free. Or not be discriminated against. Or bear arms. Etc.

And yes, this scales with the capacities of the animal.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby ThunderOfCondemnation » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:23 pm UTC

yurell wrote:I disagree with your ludicrous assertions which only take into account extremes. Either animals have all the rights of a human, or they have none? Talk about a false dichotomy ... there are plenty of shades between shining white and jet black. What's your argument for all of these intermittent levels of rights being 'inconsistent'?


Alright, alright, I was being very idiotic with that statement. Those are certainly not the only consistent viewpoints.

Here's a more interesting topic: Where do "human rights" come from? A good, rational answer to this question is essential if anyone is going to talk about animal rights.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:27 pm UTC

I dislike talking about 'animal rights' as if there is only one kind of animal and all animals should have the same rights. The rights an animal has should depend on what type of animal we're talking about. All animals probably shouldn't be treated cruelly or hurt needlessly, but there's some classes of animals I'd also want to exempt from economic exploitation (apes being the prime example). While for others I don't care.

In my ideal world, you can still eat some kinds of animals for food, but if you kill a chimpanzee you'll be tried in the same court, for the same crime, as when you kill a human.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:The other thing to note is that most animals are healthier when they have tasks to do. In the wild animals have to be aware of their surroundings, find food, find a mate, etc. etc. In captivity a lot of the day-to-day stimuli go away and animals tend to get listless and bored, which ultimately has a negative effect on their health. Teaching animals in captivity to perform gives them a task that replaces the stimuli they'd have in the wild, especially if they're unable to be released back in to the wild for some reason (which IIRC is usually the case for most entertainment animals).


SeaWorld could just provide an environment for the animal that is actually stimulating, instead of just putting them in a swimming pool. As I mentioned before, animals in zoos aren't required to perform, generally speaking.

Diadem wrote:classes of animals I'd also want to exempt from economic exploitation (apes being the prime example)


Why apes, out of curiousity?

Izawwlgood wrote:Personally, I agree; I don't think animals have rights. I think it's our duty as superior(ish) beings who have decided to utilize animals for our own purposes, to minimize their suffering (for the broadest use of the word 'suffering'), but I don't think we must do so because animals have an inherent right to not experience suffering. Or be free. Or not be discriminated against. Or bear arms. Etc.


So why do you think we should care about their suffering at all?

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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby JBJ » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:33 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:So why do you think we should care about their suffering at all?

Too much cortisol makes them taste gamey.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:40 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Diadem wrote:classes of animals I'd also want to exempt from economic exploitation (apes being the prime example)

Why apes, out of curiousity?

Because they are very intelligent, capable of very complex emotions, even have a sense of morality. Plus they are family. Apes are an example. A few other animals might also apply (Dolphins, certain octopi, etc).

Another aspect to look at is the rarity of animals. A rare animal deserves more protection. I'm ok with people eating cows. But if there were only 200 cows left in the world, I'd similarly be ok with using lethal force to protect cows from being hunted. Though this is a different kind of protection, for an entirely different reason. It is more similar to, say, the notion that using lethal force to protect your car from being smashed is not ok, but using lethal force to stop someone from defacing The Night Watch is.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:44 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:So why do you think we should care about their suffering at all?

EDIT: Sorry, I misread that:
Because we are empathic individuals who should care about causing undue suffering to others. Because it is in our power to utilize animals to our own purposes, if we decide to take ownership of an animal, it is our responsible duty as a sentient, emphathic species, to treat that ownership ethically as we can. That means if you're going to eat an animal, you kill it in such a way to minimize it's suffering. If you're going to keep an intelligent animal as a pet, you minimize it's emotional stress.
Diadem wrote:In my ideal world, you can still eat some kinds of animals for food, but if you kill a chimpanzee you'll be tried in the same court, for the same crime, as when you kill a human.

I disagree; a chimp isn't a human. In the life calculus of things, if I had to decide between saving a drowning chimp or a drowning human, I'd let that chimp drown, and frankly, I hope you'd do the same. What I will agree with is that if you kill a chimp, you should be punished more severely than if you, say, killed a house fly. But you aren't a murderer of a human being for killing a chimp.
Diadem wrote:Because they are very intelligent, capable of very complex emotions, even have a sense of morality. Plus they are family. Apes are an example. A few other animals might also apply (Dolphins, certain octopi, etc).

Yes, but that again is an argument for treating them well, not an argument against having them perform.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby ThunderOfCondemnation » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:48 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Diadem wrote:Because they are very intelligent, capable of very complex emotions, even have a sense of morality. Plus they are family. Apes are an example. A few other animals might also apply (Dolphins, certain octopi, etc).

Yes, but that again is an argument for treating them well, not an argument against having them perform.


Well, that's not really an argument for treating them well either... you're fine with the pain and suffering you cause to a cow when you kill it just because it's less intelligent than an ape? Most animals have nervous systems.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Diadem wrote:Because they are very intelligent, capable of very complex emotions, even have a sense of morality. Plus they are family. Apes are an example. A few other animals might also apply (Dolphins, certain octopi, etc).

Yes, but that again is an argument for treating them well, not an argument against having them perform.

I said exploitation. If they are treated well it's not exploitation. Though apes, being such complex animals, require a lot of space and a lot of dedicated care. Things like circuses probably won't be able to meet the required standard of care. And eating them for food is also out.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
Diadem wrote:Because they are very intelligent, capable of very complex emotions, even have a sense of morality. Plus they are family. Apes are an example. A few other animals might also apply (Dolphins, certain octopi, etc).

Yes, but that again is an argument for treating them well, not an argument against having them perform.


I said exploitation. If they are treated well it's not exploitation. Though apes, being such complex animals, require a lot of space and a lot of dedicated care. Things like circuses probably won't be able to meet the required standard of care. And eating them for food is also out.


I think there's one thing you're missing here: Dolphins are probably smarter than apes, and probably have more complex social structures and interactions. They just don't look as much like us as apes do. If you don't think apes should be performing, dolphins probably shouldn't be either.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Dauric » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:00 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Dauric wrote:The other thing to note is that most animals are healthier when they have tasks to do. In the wild animals have to be aware of their surroundings, find food, find a mate, etc. etc. In captivity a lot of the day-to-day stimuli go away and animals tend to get listless and bored, which ultimately has a negative effect on their health. Teaching animals in captivity to perform gives them a task that replaces the stimuli they'd have in the wild, especially if they're unable to be released back in to the wild for some reason (which IIRC is usually the case for most entertainment animals).


SeaWorld could just provide an environment for the animal that is actually stimulating, instead of just putting them in a swimming pool. As I mentioned before, animals in zoos aren't required to perform, generally speaking.


Zoos and aquariums are (slowly) changing the way that they do things. Way back in the way back Zoos used to be largely featureless cages with an animal shoved in them. Occasionally they'd have wooden structures that looked suspiciously like cut-rate scratching posts for some animals to scamper about for the entertainment of the visitors. Most zoos these days have been changing their exhibits to exhibit more naturalistic environments to provide that stimulation. The problem is that these exhibits are terribly expensive to build and take up a lot of acreage, which is difficult for a zoo in the middle of a developed urban area to move from older "cage" exhibits to larger "environment" exhibits.

In the case of dolphins and orcas these acreage limitations are a massive problem, like someone said earlier in the thread, you've got to have a facility large enough to accommodate an animal that's accustomed to swimming hundreds of KM in a day, and on top of that your facility needs to have the appropriate water pumps, treatment facilities, etc. to support an aquarium facility that large. To go from the "cage" facilities in the old-style aquariums to a more stimulating "environment" facility for most aquariums, especially if they're already in a built-up urban environment (like SeaWorld) may be a practical and/or fiscal impossibility.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I said exploitation. If they are treated well it's not exploitation. Though apes, being such complex animals, require a lot of space and a lot of dedicated care. Things like circuses probably won't be able to meet the required standard of care. And eating them for food is also out.

We've been over this; define 'exploit'. Any use of an animal is exploiting them. That's what we do. We use animals. I'm fine with that, so long as we do as responsibly as possible. That means minimize the suffering of animals we exploit for their meat, and minimize the stress of animals we exploit for companionship, and minimize the stress of animals we exploit for captivity/research/entertainment purposes.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:16 pm UTC

Peh, that's like saying any use of people is exploiting them.

Ohnoes I exploit my friends all the time because I use them to help me move and for company when I go to the movies! The Horror!

At the very least I'd argue using cats for pest control purposes is probably not exploiting them.

And that damn wheat is exploiting us to obtain widespread distribution and reproductive success...
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:16 pm UTC

I'm not sure how you feel that discredits anything I just said.

In fact, on the topic of plants, Michael Pollan has some interesting things to say you might be interested in.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:23 pm UTC

Any use of an animal is exploiting them.

That's bullshit is the problem. Not that you've even bothered justifying it.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:25 pm UTC

That's the point I'm making. The word 'exploit' is loaded and rather ridiculous in this context. Oh noes, those poor dolphins have to jump out of the water. They're being exploited. But this steak dinner I'm eating? Yeah, that cow wasn't.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Dauric » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:32 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The word 'exploit' is loaded ...


Heh.. I'm on cold medication so I find the following thought funny:

A PETA lawyer is pushed up against the hood of a cop car being handcuffed while the officer says "I'm placing you under arrest for felony trolling with a loaded rhetorical statement."

felony menacing with a loaded weapon
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby skeptical scientist » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:11 am UTC

Griffin wrote:Peh, that's like saying any use of people is exploiting them.

The major difference is that people are capable of consent.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Cleverbeans » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:52 am UTC

Orcas are not your typical animal either, they have the most sophisticated social structure outside of higher primates and the isolation has a significant impact on life expectancy, physiology, and personality for the Orca. There is a popular misconception that the major objection is "swim space", which while certainly being an issue isn't really a driving motivation for their release. I believe the do in fact deserve special legal protections above what would be afforded to other animals, and I hope the petition is successful.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diadem » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:07 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think there's one thing you're missing here: Dolphins are probably smarter than apes, and probably have more complex social structures and interactions. They just don't look as much like us as apes do. If you don't think apes should be performing, dolphins probably shouldn't be either.

I never said my reasoning only applied to apes. I used apes as an example. There's a very simple reason why I used apes in my example and not dolphins: I know a lot about apes, I know next to nothing about dolphins. If what you say is true about dolphins, than the same reasoning applies to them.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Diadem wrote:I said exploitation. If they are treated well it's not exploitation. Though apes, being such complex animals, require a lot of space and a lot of dedicated care. Things like circuses probably won't be able to meet the required standard of care. And eating them for food is also out.

We've been over this; define 'exploit'.

That's easy. Exploitation is any use of an animal which is detrimental to the animal. Eating animals is exploitation, keeping pets isn't. Letting animals work probably isn't either, as long as they are treated well. Neither is letting them perform tricks. Putting an Orca in a tank twice its size, with no interaction with other orcas, and letting it perform tricks seems pretty exploitative though.

Note that exploitation is not necessarily wrong. It's wrong of humans, and, I'm arguing, several kinds of animals, but not all of them.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:33 pm UTC

I don't really disagree with your assessment of exploitation, namely that 'having perform' is not inherently exploitative, nor is exploiting all animals necessarily a bad thing. I do disagree in that keeping certain animals as pets is. I know many a people who aren't able to pay attention to their dog or cat or parakeet, and would consider that pet ownership exploitative. And I also don't think that this position on exploitation inherently means having Orcas at SeaWorld is a bad thing; having Orcas at SeaWorld in the conditions they are kept is a bad thing. That they are made to perform may be 'exploitative', but that isn't part of what makes this situation a problem.

Also, as pointed out, the mental stimulation they receive from performing may be a net benefit to their situation.
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