SeaWorld and similar attractions that serve up cetacean entertainment to the masses don’t do that much for me. However, many of the professionals who work at places like these exhibit enormous compassion for animals. Two recent non-marine examples both include Sandhill Cranes.
First, an adult Sandhill Crane with a rubber gasket around his bill was brought to SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld vets removed the gasket, and happened to rescue, during the bird’s rehabilitation, a newly hatched Sandhill chick. Rather than risk the chick’s imprinting on humans, the team cleverly thought to pair their two charges. Not only does their approach make for sound science, it also offers some outstanding photo opportunities…
Chick pulling on surrogate’s tail feathers
SeaWorld Orlando’s Aviculture Team plans to release the adult and chick together, once the chick learns to fly and the adult is fully recovered. Like I said, I may not be a big fan of this kind of operation (are you?) but I’m certainly impressed with and grateful for SeaWorld’s commitment to animal rescue (and adorable freaking photos, used with permission of course!)
I have no particular problem with keeping animals in captivity so long as their needs are met, this includes their mental needs as well. I’ll defer to cetacean experts as to whether this is even possible for cetaceans, but that said I’m not surprised that the people that work in these places care deeply about animals.