On July 13th, 2020, Tara Riemer, CEO of The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) in Seward, Alaska, announced that the facility was facing the possibility of closing its doors for good, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was all based on the facility’s projections following a loss of revenue that is needed to provide animal care for both the animal residents and the marine mammals that are currently being rehabilitated.
Last year, the Journal of Veterinary Behavior published a paper by well-known animal rights proponents led by Dr. Lori Marino. The 2019 paper made dubious claims about whale neuroscience, behavior, captive stress, and whale care/longevity. Furthermore, the paper passed into anthropomorphism calling whale calves “children”, a term not usually associated with objective, non-agenda driven science. Marino is one of the names behind the controversial Whale Sanctuary Project and used her article to claim that orcas living under human care suffer from chronic stress as a result of living in man-made animal habitats. Unfortunately, very little work has been done in this arena to make proper comparisons.
The Greater Wynnewood Zoo, a road-side big cat facility that was the focus of Netflix’s The Tiger King series, has recently been under investigation by the state of Oklahoma for alleged animal abuse after a series of photos and videos that document the claims were leaked to the public. The evidence to support these claims include photos of lions suffering from skin conditions caused by insects biting their skin off and laying eggs on them. The zoo was once owned by Joe Maldonado-Passage, who is better known to the world as “Joe Exotic” before all ownership of the facility was turned over to Jeff Lowe and his partner, Lauren.
On February 13th, 2020, I published an article on Vocal titled “The Wolf of Gulf World”, which was an article that investigated the case of Cierra Huffman, the dolphin trainer who, all of the sudden, became a TikTok star with a desire to go on the “Ellen” show with the intent to one day work for her. Upon the article’s publication, I received a lot of positive feedback from the marine mammal community about how people like her could potentially be a danger to the zoo and aquarium community in general. In addition, Gulf World has since filed a cease and desist order against Ms. Huffman even though she was still continuing to make false accusations against the facility and its animal care team.
A little over four months have passed since dolphin trainer turned TikTok star Cierra Huffman was first exposed for fraudulent practices and slandering her former employer, Gulf World.