I like a good Wendy’s Frosty as much as anybody does, and I definitely like whale toys (whale anything, really) more than the average person, but the combination of Wendy’s and SeaWorld just isn’t something I can stomach. This month, Wendy’s has added SeaWorld toys to their kids’ meal. Normally I would be thrilled with anything that gets kids interested in the ocean and its inhabitants, but SeaWorld is not the ocean, it is captivity, and captivity is cruel and unnecessary and not at all representative of wild whales and dolphins.
Whales and dolphins are extremely intelligent animals who live in complex social groups in the wild – Orcas may stay with their family their entire lives and form close associations with other individuals. In captivity, they are forced into unnatural situations with animals they may never encounter in the wild. Resident (fish-eating) and transient (mammal-eating) orcas may temporarily occupy the same area in the wild, but it’s in a “just passing by” manner – they do not socialize or mix groups. In captivity, they are forced to occupy the same small space. Whales and dolphins have significantly shorter lifespans in captivity than in the wild, and often succumb to diseases brought on by the mental and physical stressors of life in a tank. Promoting the company that holds the most captive whales and dolphins in the world is not something I can support, even for a cool orca squirt toy.
I encourage you to avoid dining at Wendy’s while they are endorsing SeaWorld with their kids’ meal toys. Let them know that you’re against captivity and will not support any company that associates with SeaWorld, or any other dolphinarium or park that holds captive whales and dolphins. Consumer choices matter, and where you spend your money can make a difference. Make the right choice in this instance, and go somewhere else when you’re craving something cool on these hot summer days. Take some friends to an air-conditioned movie theatre to see the amazing documentary “Blackfish,” or (if you live near the ocean) head for the coast or a whale-watching trip to see the animals in their natural environment. Purchase some ocean-themed toys from a company that donates some of its profits to conservation. Or better yet, adopt a whale from WDC and get to know a unique individual living in the wild, and add a plush whale for your kid – way better than the cheap plastic bits that come with kids’ meals!
Curious about the captivity issue? Visit WDC’s captivity page for more information.