Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unnatural Nature

O and I spent the day at SeaWorld yesterday, which accounts for my sunburn as well as my vague sense of unease. SeaWorld was troubling enough when my parent company HBJ ran the place, but now that it's owned by Anheiser Busch, it seems to be much about supporting the troops while gouging the tourists. The Shamu show has a narrative that seems to involve believing in the connection between animals and humans--or maybe it's just about "believing" in the larger sense; it's not entirely clear. And although I'm halfway convinced that the education tourists who wouldn't ordinarily visit an animal park, aquarium, or zoo can receive at SeaWorld is worth something, I'm equally sure that seeing animals do tricks on humans' commands isn't the kind of education that helps. The theme for the parks is "SeaWorld: As Real As It Gets," which is sad, if true, since reality seems to involve a gift shop for every animal. There's a back message about conservation, but it's a Teddy Roosevelt sort of message, not at all about global warming or human encroachment on habitat. We can hope that our ridiculous $100 entry fee (with AAA discount! does not include parking!) goes toward their breeding program, which has been quite successful.

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