I watched a news program today that focused on the behavior of the huge killer whales, the Orcas, in Sea World in Florida. You may remember that one of the Orcas, Tilikum, drowned one of the trainers earlier this year. It had been involved in previous accidents.

They talked about the investigation into the Sea World organization and how culpable they might be, what whale behavior they had observed that might be considered suspicious and how staff safety was considered.

Many angles of the situation were discussed except one. Not once did a single person suggest that the situation itself was the cause; these creatures are not designed for captivity and the artificial, small and confined world we have created for them. The truth may be as simple as this: Sea World drove the Orca crazy and it killed in flash of madness.

It’s not meant to live like that.

Take Richard O’Barry, for instance. He was the trainer of the famous dolphin, Flipper. In fact, he captured and trained hundreds of dolphins for similar purposes. Until he discovered the hard way that it was driving them crazy. Once he realized what he and other were doing he made an about face. Now he works to free dolphins from the Sea Worlds scattered over the globe. The dolphins are amazingly healed when reunited with the natural flow of the tides, the chemistry of fresh salt water, the hunting of live fish and living in a community of dolphins that migrate long distances according to the seasons. I first became aware of this through viewing the documentary, The Cove. I recommend it.

It’s not just whales. The seamy side of the factory farming of chickens is not known to most of us as we much down on our Colonial Sanders or take our eggs sunny side up. The factory farming of chickens, at its worst, involves over packing live chickens into small steel wire crates and then keeping the artificial light on 24/7 to increase laying patterns. They lay more eggs.

Only problem? The chickens go crazy and peck each other to death. Solution? De-beak them. You snip off their beaks so that when they go crazy they can’t kill the crazy neighbor whose beak has also been clipped off. Bloody stubs can’t kill another layer.

Like the Orcas, chickens go crazy in those kind of conditions. The difference is that we aren’t raising the Orcas in order to eat them. But we are consuming them; taking their lives for our entertainment until they go mad.

According to the English medieval theologian, William of Ockham (1287-1347) , and his metaphorical razor, the simplest and most direct explanation is most often the truest: “Don’t multiply entities beyond necessity.” The more we extend and multiply simple truths the further they get from the truth itself.

Let’s just say that it appears that no one is applying Ockham’s razor to the Sea World situation. Because if we were, we would be opening the large doors to the sea and shooing the Orcas toward open water. Rather, we’re going to figure out how to deal with their madness, come up with a technical solution, give them some Orca Prozac or maybe a few sessions on the Orca therapeutic couch. Or retrain the trainers to live on the edge of a tank that creates madness and then drowns a person ever so often just to get our attention. “I am, by the way, going crazy in here. Let me take one of you down to make my point.”

But I doubt if we will listen to the Orcas or to William of Ockham. I imagine we’ll make a few adjustments, offer a few rationalizations and keep on selling those tickets, filling those stands, and clapping like mad with every leap from the blue, blue water.

  1. Vera Rowell says:

    Stories about the chicken make me want to stop eating them and their eggs, but I can’t because I desperately need the protein. Can we expose companies that do that or is it widespread?

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