Does SeaWorld Care about the Environment?


SeaWorld often likes to push the idea that they support environmentalism. Many shows featured at the park send a message of saving the ocean, and caring for the earth and the people who see these shows just assume that SeaWorld must care about the environment simply because they say they do. While some patrons question this message when they eat at the restaurants in the park, which often feature disposable plastic cups and cutlery. Does SeaWorld really practice what they preach?

About a day ago, articles were being published with SeaWorld headlining as an environmentally focused corporation. SeaWorld Cans Plastic Bags Nationwide! The titles read. The green movement has been around for awhile now and people have been campaigning against plastic bags for years, but it was just last year that SeaWorld even considered the idea of removing plastic from the parks (they eliminated plastic gift bags at SeaWorld, San Diego.) I have to ask; why now is the corporation turning to recycled paper and reducing their use of plastic nationwide? If the corporation cares about the environment they could’ve easily transitioned to paper at all of their parks a decade ago and saved 40 million bags from entering landfills. So, why now?

There are two observations that give us a clue into why this is the precise moment for SeaWorld to make their move.

SeaWorld didn’t stop capturing cetaceans from the wild until it became illegal. They didn’t update their safety protocols until a trainer died and the government forced them to make changes. One thing we know about this corporation is that they don’t usually make big changes without being pushed in some manner or coming to the point where they have no other option. It is the same in this instance.

SeaWorld did not ban plastic bags nationwide out of their own goodwill and concern for the environment. Solana Beach City Council recently voted to ban plastic bags in the area and SeaWorld has subsequently followed suit. Anti-plastic campaigners are obviously pressuring businesses and corporations in the area to stop using plastic. I doubt that SeaWorld would want to be subjected to that kind of negative publicity seeing as how they intend to protect their “environmentally friendly” image.

Another thing that may have had a hand in pushing SeaWorld to this point is an event that took place in March that was not largely publicized. Do you remember this little gem? Last month SeaWorld San Diego was cited and fined for dumping excessive amounts of waste into Mission Bay, and it wasn’t the first time. According to the California Regional Water Control Board, they have been citing SeaWorld  for refusing to provide required chemical sampling and exceeding effluent limits numerous times since 2005. Obviously this doesn’t look good for a corporation that touts itself as being environmentally friendly, especially towards the oceans. Perhaps SeaWorld is now trying to re-focus the public’s attention by convince them that even though they are excessively polluting nearby water – they are doing something for the environment because they are going to stop using plastic bags. Or maybe it just makes them feel better and helps them sleep at night. Either way, it appears as though SeaWorld has been saving this bullet.

Unfortunately the 4 million plastic bags they will keep from landfills each year cannot undo the irreversible damage of pollution they have inflicted on our oceans.

   “Eliminating plastic bags is an important statement about our commitment to the environment…” – Jim Atchison SeaWorld President and CEO

SeaWorld is getting nothing but praise as they transition from plastic to paper but it seems as though this was a strategic move in light of their recent fine. For years they have been encouraging us to save the planet and become environmentally conscious but it seems as though they aren’t exactly walking the walk. Of course this is a step in the right direction and it is good that 4 million plastic bags will be left out of landfills…but eliminating plastic bags is just as important a statement as the multiple citations for excessive pollutants SeaWorld has received and this fact should not be ignored.

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