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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why touch?



From "Letters," National Geographic, July 2007:


Orlando

As president of a company that operates two of the theme parts author T. D. Allman found so objectionable in his article on Orlando, I feel compelled to offer another view. His article manages to do something I would have thought impossible: find fault with a community that provides wholesome family entertainment and educational experiences for millions of visitors while providing many jobs. Allman is particularly critical of SeaWorld, a park that with its sharks detaches "experience from context." I submit that if there were ever an animal for which detaching experience from context was prudent, it is the shark. But in addition to learning about sharks in safety, visitors to Orlando can touch a sloth at Discovery Cove without traveling to Bolivia. They can see a beluga whale at SeaWorld without sailing into Canada's Resolute Bay. And they can experience an endangered leatherback sea turtle without diving a thousand feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. These opportunities might explain why nearly six million people will visit SeaWorld and Discovery Cove this year alone. . . .

Keith M. Kasen
Busch Entertainment Corporation
Clayton, Missouri

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Why the human fixation to "touch" wild animals? I just don't get it. Has it ever occurred to them that perhaps these animals were never meant to be touched by humans? If one wishes to see or swim with whales, et cetera, then jolly well master the skills and equipment to do so in their habitat (which, in itself, is a controversial activity). To have the animals held in captivity — imprisoned in perpetuity — just so that they can be a freak show is a monstrosity.

How can gawking at wild animals in captivity be "wholesome family entertainment"?

Tell you what, I wish to see what the world's highest paid ministers, and a handful of CEOs, hypocritical liberals / Chicken Little environazis such as Michael "I actually own Halliburton stock" Moore, Rosie "Common people should not own guns" O'Donnell, Al "ONE of my homes consumes 20 times the electrical energy of the average American household" Gore, et cetera, look like going about their daily lives. After all, humans are many times more dangerous than sharks. More people have been killed by other people (more than 69 million in the two World Wars) than by sharks — making an even stronger proposal for "detaching experience from context." I propose putting people such as Mr. Kasen and his ilk in cages — simulated to resemble their natural environments, of course — and then charging the public $20 to look at them. $200 if anyone desires to pet them. Kicking them is free.

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