On Mothers’ Day, folks on Vancouver Island got quite a treat when “Granny,” the world’s oldest known Orca, was spotted off the coast with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Experts put her age at about 103 – though the lifespan of an Orca is estimated at 60 to 90 years, much like that of a human.
While it was a joy to see Granny and her family out and about for the holiday weekend, her sighting caused animal rights activists to re-ignite their proactive communications campaign against SeaWorld. They claim SeaWorld has been knowingly lying about the Orcas living in captivity for decades, going so far as to get proof on camera in the 2013 documentary Blackfish.
According to SeaWorld, Orcas are lucky to live to 40 – and most of them don’t live past their 20s at SeaWorld. Granny, not to mention her children and grandchildren now ranging in age from 40 to 80 years old beg to differ.
I had the opportunity to visit Vancouver and several Orca-rich ports in Alaska last year, and even to see “Granny” with her family. Everyone on the ship was talking about Blackfish, so I downloaded it while on vacation, juxtaposing what SeaWorld was on record as saying about Orcas – including their PR people – versus what I was seeing with my own eyes and hearing from naturalists on board.
Humiliated that members of my own communications industry took part in SeaWorld’s alleged cover-ups for decades, I was motivated to write this when I returned from my trip.
Today, as I am less than a month from visiting Alaska – and hopefully seeing Granny – again, I write this:
Your client and company’s lies are yours – always investigate their claims before putting your reputation on the line in sharing them.
Don’t toe the company line if you KNOW something isn’t right. Stand up for yourself and what you believe.
Don’t be a “yes man.”
Don’t be afraid to blow the whistle.
I close with one hope – that next time SeaWorld wants to kidnap animals from their families and put them into captivity, they choose Great White Sharks. Then, to prove just how happy the sharks are in captivity, they stage a news conference with humans in the tanks with them. Methinks that will teach them, and good.