However, these changes don't happen without the efforts of committed and compassionate citizens across the country. Their voices--when raised in unison, with authority, and with fearlessness--can effect change most significantly.
SeaWorld should reconsider their active opposition to sea pens and should work with scientists, trainers, and environmental organizations to establish sea pen sanctuaries to retire their orcas, beluga whales, and dolphins.
Blackfish forced SeaWorld to announce that it would discontinue its orca-breeding program, effectively phasing out its orca captivity. That is good, but it is not enough to protect orcas at SeaWorld in the future, or orcas that are or might later be held in other locations.
Sea World will no longer breed killer whales; Armani discontinued its use of fur; Petco and PetSmart offer shelter dogs and no longer support puppy mills; Ringling Brothers has ended their use of elephants. The world is becoming a better place for animals.
These are uncertain times for big charismatic animals in the oceans and on land. Many populations are declining. Money is scarce for pool repairs and big mammal research, made worse by the public's vocal distrust of scientists, zoos and aquariums.
Even though the decision to end captive breeding of orcas is a much-needed step in the right direction, the way that SeaWorld has presented its decision to the public and the media has been disingenuous. SeaWorld is bowing to consumer pressure to survive.
For so many years, SeaWorld has gotten away with convincing the public that the Keiko rehabilitation effort was a complete failure. The current television ad campaign maligning the Keiko Project is even more aggressive and deceiving than usual.
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use a wide range of diplomatic tools to pressure Japan to end its commercial whaling activities and to stop contravening international law by slaughtering hundreds of innocent whales.
So is it okay to go back to SeaWorld again? I say, no. Not until an exit strategy for all dolphins is committed to by both parties. In the absence of this, it's just business as usual - and a cruel one at that.