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Barbi Twins vs. Barbie and Mattel’s New Marine Mammal Trainer Doll

I learned last week that Mattel’s new Barbie I Can Be SeaWorld Trainer hit the market. This is a great partnership SeaWorld has forged with Mattel in regard to this new merchandise.

Marine parks like SeaWorld offer people a chance to learn about marine mammals and marine ecosystems in context that is both entertaining and engaging. The human-animal bond that develops between trainers and captive whales and dolphins (cetaceans) and pinnipeds conveys a certain respect for these sentient beings.  In fact, it was SeaWorld of Ohio that offered me my first exposure to the subjects of marine mammalogy and conservation.  SeaWorld of Ohio no longer exists, but three other SeaWorld parks in Texas, Florida and California continue to educate millions of people.

I went on to train marine mammals at two Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited facilities—an aquarium and a zoo. I also conducted field work on activity budgets of California sea lions in the Sea of Cortez, as well as census studies on both baleen whales and toothed whales, including orca (killer whales) and several dolphin species.

Had I not been inspired to pursue a career working with captive wildlife and marine mammals in particular, I would never have explored opportunities to work with these species in the wild. Nor would I have developed an interest in conserving them.

The people working in marine parks are the lucky few who get to build life-long relationships with these intelligent beings and they inspire others to work with animals, many of whom choose to go into marine conservation and specifically marine mammal conservation.

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is “dedicated to promoting scientific interest and understanding among young people and the community to ensure that the next generation of research pioneers will be competitive in the world of science and industry.”

I think SeaWorld certainly makes an impact on conservation. If you look at the coastal ecology studies that they conduct you’ll see that using marine mammals as an indicator species, scientists can assess marine ecosystem health. The research applies not only to the conservation of marine mammals that utilize coastal habitat, but has human health implications that are a consequence of our very own exploitation and pollution of marine resources.   

I thought I would ask the Barbi Twins about their stance on marine parks. The iconic pin-ups, turned vegan animal advocates are big followers and friends of Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society, which I understand opposes marine mammal exhibition at marine parks.

I also asked my friend and radio co-host Dr. Grey Stafford to provide his expert commentary on the subject.

Comments from the Barbi Twins:

Recently, everyone including Jordan has been asking our opinion (Barbi Twins) about Mattel’s Barbie I Can Be SeaWorld Trainer.  This new whale trainer doll just hit the market, merging SeaWorld in a partnership with Mattel. This is a terrible business move that gives a horrible message to kids.

There has been is uproar to oppose marine life in captivity lately, like at a SeaWorld, because of all the unfortunate life threatening accidents at these marine parks, which eventually uncovered the unnatural and cruel environment for the animals in captivity. ALL wildlife deserve to live in their own natural habitat, and a zoo or marine aquarium is not even close to the environment that is natural for them. The exhibits are geared for human viewing, or an entertainment venue, which is counterproductive to studying wild animals in their natural environment. As we have witnessed in the news, wildlife in captivity eventually manifest unnatural, sometimes manic or destructive behavior in the captive animals, resulting in depression, injuries or even people getting harmed.

The most common excuse for condoning the placement of wildlife in captivity is so kids and students can observe and study the “natural” living conditions of a wild animal. But that is the whole irony. It would be no different to encourage the study of French people by putting a French person next to a mock Eiffel Tower, and a croissant on a French table—all on a small stage. Not only is it cruel and inhumane, it conveys a message that it’s OK to take an animal meant to be wild and untamed, and left alone in the wilderness.  Instead it sends a message that you are conquering it by capturing it and bringing it into captivity.  It is like imperializing a country, so it fits OUR agenda, protocol, customs and culture. It is making these animals victims, essentially containing them like a prisoner. It’s also “anthropomorphizing” an animal to do what we think it should do, rather than what is instinctive.

I call this the “King Kong Syndrome” where the movie makes a good point of humans taking a huge beast out of it’s natural environment, and try to conquer it so everyone can “study” it or be entertained by a beast completely out of it’s element, while it is so scared, confused and defensive. What is the NATURAL instinct of an animal or even human when they are scared? To fight back! And what happens to dolphins that don’t perform, lions that don’t behave, whales that accidentally kill or elephants that defend themselves? They are punished or killed, only for doing what is a natural instinct for them. Simply put, a wild animal that doesn’t behave like a trained domesticated dog, in a tiny, contained environment, will be brutally tortured and/or killed. How can having a “slave type” relationship with an animal be a good message to teach students?

Though we never like endorsing just one organization, (principal above personality), the Godfather and one-stop-shopping of animals and conservation organizations is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), which is the best organization to go to for learning about conservation and preserving wild places and the creatures that belong there. It’s the only organization that is hands-on in respect to exposing and preventing illegal poaching. Just about anyone can sign up to be a SSCS volunteer. Some have volunteered to become Cove Guardians. These individuals help protest and document the Taiji Dolphin slaughter, which is really explained well in the award-winning film, The Cove. The movie reveals the truth behind Taiji Dolphin slaughter, the cruelty of captivity, the hidden secrets behind the false glamor of marine aquariums and exposes the brutal capture of dolphins or whales, and the slaughter of the sea life that are not up to par.

Paul Watson sums up the marine aquarium debates well when he said this to me… “Sea World professes to be an educational organization but they say nothing about what people are doing to the oceans, no mention of Taiji, of the Faeroes, of Japanese whaling, of Canadian sealing, nothing controversial. Dolphin trainers bonding to dolphins is no different than overseers during the slave days getting friendly and attached to field slaves. Friends they may be, but one is free and the other remains a “slave.”

My sister and I would like to start a Celeb Cattle-Call to Save the Dolphins, calling on Celebrities to lend their name to help expose Taiji Dolphin Hunt–the biggest dolphin slaughter disguised as a traditional Japanese culture. Celebs can simply use social media to lend their name, or help sponsor Cove Guardians, like celebrity conservationist, Elissa Sursara, who volunteers to go to Japan to protest the slaughter. The Taiji Dolphin “Hunt” can be described as follows:  pods or families dolphins, including babies (calves) and pregnant mothers are tricked and driven into the Cove of Taiji by sounds coming from “Banger Boats.” Many dolphins ultimately get tangled & killed in the nets. The prized dolphins are captured, while the others are used for “mystery” meat (despite mercury poisoning), and many are stabbed brutally because they did not make the captivity cut for becoming a prized dolphin or whales. Japanese culture? I don’t think so. Eco tourism would be a compassionate and lasting solution. This would also help the stigma of the needless Taiji slaughter, and give jobs to the hunters that make the sea bleed red.

For more information go to http://www.seashepherd.org/dolphins/taiji-dolphins.html

The following comments are from Dr. Grey Stafford.  Grey is the Director of Conservation at the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, a former SeaWorld Marine Mammal Trainer, author of the popular book Zoomility (for companion and exotic animal trainers), and a celebrity zoo spokesperson in his own right.

For years, major marine mammal organizations as well as their individual members have strongly condemned the Japanese drive fisheries.  They have also pooled their resources to work with the U.S. government to urge the government of Japan to end the slaughter.  Credible marine animal exhibitors do not possess animals from Japan. In fact, the leading international association representing marine life parks, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, “prohibits any zoological park and aquarium from joining the organization if the facility acquires animals from the Japanese drive fisheries.” Interestingly, nearly 2/3 of the dolphins in Alliance facilities were born in human care.

Jordan, I’m old enough to remember when products labeled “dolphin safe” did not exist.  However, it wasn’t a textbook description, picture or video of a dolphin that motivated everyday citizens to change how an entire industry provided consumers with tuna, thus saving the lives of thousands of dolphins each year. Rather, it was due in large part to the heartfelt connection to dolphins and other mysterious creatures of the sea that millions of families like my own experienced thanks to professional marine mammal display facilities.  And after 20 years of zoo work, I know one thing is certain, conservation begins with the heart not the head.

Of course, most of what we understand today about cetacean and pinniped physiology and behavior comes from animals living under human care. That is very important because study after study suggests that our world oceans are in trouble due to pollution, over-fishing, invasive species etc. The in situ and ex situ research, rescue & rehabilitation, conservation and public education funded by zoos and aquariums are helping to preserve what’s left of our blue planet.  With 7 billion people on earth and 9 billion expected by 2050, professional zoos and aquariums are more important to educating the public and saving wildlife than ever before.

As for the comments about human slavery, they are outrageous, repugnant and serve to trivialize the agony of millions of human beings past and present.  Such reprehensible comparisons should offend everyone, whether they are pro zoo or not.

Few professionals are called upon to work under more physically demanding conditions all hours of the day or night than zookeepers.  Not only do they strive to provide increasingly improved care, nutrition, and engaging habitats, they often participate in important original research designed to help wild populations survive. In truth, today’s zoo professionals are better educated than ever before and no doubt such education could earn them much more in other chosen professions.  Yet, they persevere because they love animals and want to protect wildlife and wild places for generations to come.  Instead of criticizing them, we should celebrate caring and dedicated zoo professionals.

Most excitingly, following the example and behavioral advancements made by marine mammal trainers over the past 30 years, zookeepers are widely using the principles of positive reinforcement-based training to teach wild and endangered animals how to voluntarily participate in their own care and species survival.  Animals in zoos and aquariums today routinely demonstrate cooperative husbandry behaviors such as stationing on a scale to measure body weights or holding steady while keepers administer vaccinations or draw blood samples as part of a comprehensive preventative care plan. These complex behaviors highlight the amazing relationship of trust between humans and animals made possible with exclusive use of positive reinforcement-based training.

Comments

  1. Yaydolphins!
    December 5, 2013, 10:42 am

    Guys, calm down. It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon of hating Sea World right now. The trainers at Sea World love their animals and they treat them well. Most of the animals there have been born there… do you really think they’re now fit to live in the wild?

    Personally, I’d love a pampered life where my house was cleaned for me, my meals healthily prepared, my friends were around, and I was taken care of. I don’t know who would choose a life style where you have to fight every day just to find food over that.

    Also, I have worked with dolphins and there are some whom I have worked with that I can say 100% would rather be in their fancy facility than out on the ocean on their own – this even includes animals that have been rescued and deemed unreleasalbe – and I say this based on their behavior. I’ve even seen dolphins in “natural” settings that HATED being around live fish.

    So, please stop assuming for these animals. Yes, there’s some unfortunate incidents that occur at facilities, but think about how many more incidents occur out in the ocean all the time. Stop projecting YOUR emotions on these animals.

  2. Aleazea
    XcxkwzdAbYDGPpi
    September 22, 2012, 7:33 pm

    they were happy and treated well, perahps because they really were, or perahps because that’s all they’d ever known (so what would they compare it to?). So while that’s certainly better than them saying they are miserable or mistreated, it still doesn’t make slavery right by any stretch. The mere act of using another living, sentient being for one’s own pleasure or profit seems inexcusable, oppressive, and unethical even if the enslaved being seems okay to be in that position. That’s why, no matter what the animals in those situations say about how happy they are, I still find it horrible to have them in captivity whether it be animals used in tv/film, for riding, in zoos, etc. I can ONLY see captivity justified in cases such as those involving already-domesticated cats, cani, conigli, where we are trying to undo a horrible catastrophe that we, humans, have brought onto them (overpopulation and being killed). In all other cases, I would argue that it is better to live as a free individual than as a content, or even loved, slave.And Terry Thompson is completely right about the myth of free-range. It’s still horrible for those poor birds. That’s one of the reasons I went vegan four years ago!

  3. [...] them. I mention this as a former trainer of marine mammals and because a recent, and related post on the topic generated much controversy. But I [...]

  4. Melissa Sehgal (Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian Leader)
    Massachusetts, USA
    May 11, 2012, 5:16 pm

    I speak from experience seeing firsthand…beautiful sentient beings fight for their lives in Taiji as their family members are being brutally slaughtered or taken away to a lifetime of imprisonment only to perform stupid tricks for dead fish. They do not choose this life. Humans choose this life for them. Denying these Cetaceans all that is natural to them. SeaWorld’s priority is money…nothing more. Animals are not for our entertainment. Please boycott
    captivity.

  5. Holise E Cleveland III
    Ocala, Florida
    May 10, 2012, 3:06 pm

    To Jenna and those who have not done the research: You should watch the documentary A Fall From Freedom. You can start from there in verifying it’s documentation. I, for one, do not believe you should take a documentary at face value. We have the resources (libraries, internet) to confirm the validity of their findings.

    After you have done this, please feel free to come back and comment. I am quite eager to hear what you will have to say.

    http://afallfromfreedom.org
    FREE and online. Learn the truth!

  6. Mary Beth
    May 10, 2012, 2:45 am

    Amen to the Barbi Twins! Mattel has made a bad move with this Barbie doll! Better to educate our children with dolls of conservation or promote the true hero’s trying to rescue the marine life at aquariums, Taiji or the Faroes that have the true compassion showing through.
    The Barbi Twins are right, from get go, the marine entertainment business is entirely led by the almighty dollar and misleading people far from the real truth and suffering of the wild marine life.

  7. [...] More via Barbi Twins vs. Barbie and Mattel’s New Marine Mammal Trainer Doll – News Watch and don’t forget to comment at the bottom of the [...]

  8. Sam
    Alaska
    May 9, 2012, 12:43 am

    Unfortunately, I was a SeaWorld “trainer” in the early ’90’s. I agree with everything that has been said here, and I wish I had known the truth about how many of the animals I worked with were captured and brought to sea circuses – I would never have taken the job. How often do people say, “It’s my dream to swim with a killer whale” while never considering that it’s probably not the killer whale’s dream to be confined in a tiny concrete pool for LIFE and forced to perform stupid tricks for dead fish every day. David Kirby’s new book, “Death At SeaWorld” – which will be available in July – goes behind the scenes to expose the the true circumstances of the animals under the supposed “care” of humans in marine parks. When you buy or download the book, make sure to pick up a box of tissues because there are some heart-wrenching scenes. No thinking/feeling person will be able to read his book without seriously considering outlawing the display of marine mammals for the sake of human entertainment. And don’t get me started on the “educational” argument. There’s nothing educational about what goes on at SeaWorld. If you you want to learn more before the book arrives, here’s some great links:

    Voice of the Orcas (VOTO)
    http://sites.google.com/site/voiceoftheorcas/

    The Orca Project (TOP)
    http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/

    Death At SeaWorld Facebook Page:
    http://www.facebook.com/DeathAtSeaworld

    Two excellent articles about SeaWorld and their captive whales by Outside Online writer, Tim Zimmermann:

    http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/The-Killer-in-the-Pool.html?page=all

    http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/Blood-in-the-Water-Keto.html?page=all

  9. Jaime
    Wisconsin
    May 8, 2012, 11:35 pm

    Captivity is an expiriment gone wrong and it needs to stop! Kids should not be encouraged to be performing circus acts, they should be encouraged to preserve these creatures in their natural environment. There is no education at SeaWorld. The shows amount to flashy cirque du soleil performances with dancing actors and flipping dolphins. Its a disgrace to wildnerss and wildlife and SeaWorld is milking it for all its worth. Boycott marine parks.

  10. Dino
    May 8, 2012, 9:46 pm

    What people are failing to realize are that these marine mammals have been incarcerated just to provide the public with their version of entertainment. These sea parks and zoological gardens DO NOT provide the adequate environment to sustain healthy (both physically and mentally) lives. Marine mammals roam hundreds of miles if left alone in the ocean. What form of a roaming habitat do they have in these parks? ZERO! Perhaps the equivalent of you or me being contained to our living rooms or bedrooms for the remainder of our lives. Not only is that amoral and unethical… it is unjust and WRONG!

  11. Elizabeth Batt
    Montana
    May 8, 2012, 7:47 pm

    This article is haunting. As I sit reading through necropsy reports of former animals at SeaWorld, some captured and force fed, others bleeding out in their pools [Read this report on Kandu by Tim Zimmermann, http://timzimmermann.com/2010/09/14/do-orcas-at-marine-parks-injure-one-another/, I’m shocked that those who claim to know all about these mammals, refuse to acknowledge the opinion of other experts in their field, who know the detrimental effects of captivity on marine mammals.

    Coupled with the fact that trainers have been killed by these mammals, what parent on earth would endorse a whale trainer doll?

    Read Dawn Brancheau’s autopsy report which details how she was flung about like a rag doll before having her arm detached. Ask why SW didn’t call 911 until almost 30 minutes after Dawn was attacked. Then ask why necropsy reports are hidden away and why SW won’t allow anybody to see its studbook? An inadvertent breeding perhaps, that would have never happened in the wild?

    These are the experts? Please. Experts at smoke and mirrors is all.

  12. Sandy Shell
    North Florida
    May 8, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I also will boycott Mattel toys. Sea World and all places like it should not have any live Mammals in it’s facility. It’s just so wrong. These animals deserve to swim in the ocean, in a straight line with their family. Do you realize all the trauma they go through? I do not want to promote such a thing to children. I used to love Sea World and hate sharks, now I hate Sea World and love sharks. Education is the key.. Sea World is teaching the wrong type of education.

  13. Jenna
    Nashua, NH
    May 8, 2012, 7:17 pm

    To the people who have left comments in regards to the Barbi-Sisters’ take on SeaWorld and other marine life facilities that display marine mammals, I have to say this:

    *First and foremost, It has been over three decades since any facility in the United States and western Eruope has acquired a live animal from the drive fisheries in Japan. No US facility has been allowed to acquire dolphins from Japan since 1989. In fact, one of the main reasons why US facilities have not seeked a collection permit in almost 20 years is due to the success of captive breeding programs.
    *The drive fisheries in Japan are NOT historically new at all. In fact, historical records actually show that the drive fisheries date back to at least 1606 fur the purposes of meat and pest control. It was only around the early 1980’s that aquariums (mainly those in Asia and the Middle East) began to acquire a small number of dolphins (less than five percent of the annual catch of around 13,000 animals) for public display. So even if activists like Ric O’Barry and the “Cove Guardians” did pay the Japanese fishermen to not sell dolphins to aquariums, they would sadly, still be killing them the purposes of meat and pest control.
    * The majority of aquariums that do acquire their animals from the Taiji cove are all mainly in Asia (Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan), and in the Middle East.
    * Argo, a pilot whale residing a SeaWorld San Diego, did NOT come from a deliberate capture nor a drive fishery. He stranded on a beach alone in Japan in 2004 as a small calf and was deemed non-relesable by the Japanese government.

    To learn about the these facts, please go on to http://marineanimalwelfare.com/cove.htm and that is that. The Cove is a useless resource when it comes to this issue because only education, and a change in attitude towards dolphins among the Japanese public is what will stop the drive fisheries.

  14. Liam Gutierrez
    USA
    May 8, 2012, 4:27 pm

    This is an outrage and Mattel will never get another dime from me! I have always respected Mattel for their Barbie Dolls, different generations, cultures and occupations but a Marine Trainer IS NOT a respectable job at all! Why anyone would rip a Dolphin or a Whale from it’s god given habitat away from it’s family to make them live in bathtubs and do tricks for food is beyond my imagination! There in NOTHING educational about that! what’s next? Poacher Barbie? We need to stop capturing these animals and making them prisoners, it’s time for these babies to know what freedom is, this practice is for $$$ purposes only and anyone buying a ticket to a Marine park, Circus or Zoo is just helping these sick people stay in business, teach your children that all animals deserve to be free, animals have rights too, who are we to take them away?Taiji Japan is the slaughter capital of the world and what they don’t kill goes to various Marine parks and Aquariums around the world spending hours in a coffin like box under sedatives and excruciating noise from airplane engines! that alone could kill them! $laveworld is a horrible place and the animals are not happy there, if you’ve ever seen a wild Dolphin you’d see the difference..wake up, people! Thank you Shane and Sia Barbie for speaking up against this atrocity in Taiji, I commend you! Mattel, you’ve really stooped low on this one!

  15. David W. Lincoln
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    May 8, 2012, 2:37 pm

    What needs to be said, but alas not enough room was left for it in this very compelling call to arms by Sia, Shane & Ken, is protection from poachers.

    As long as property rights are not respected by those who poach, they cannot get away with their inhumanity by skipping over to countries that do not have as strict an enforcement of property rights than the Western World.

  16. Ziki
    san diego
    May 8, 2012, 1:15 pm

    You may call Argo a show-animal, I call him a prisoner. You may call Argo a rescued life, I call him a captured one. You may call Sea World entertainment, I call it slavery. CAPTIVITY KILLS!!!!!

  17. Cali Cheshelski
    California
    May 8, 2012, 9:52 am

    SeaWorld says they are about education. Making dolls as trainers for whales in captivity isnt teaching kids the right way about animals being left in the wild. It is teaching them that captivity is childs play failing to mention the only reason SeaWorld keeps captive animals is for money and nothing else. Captivity kills, shortens lives all for the public showing to make the lieing bastards rich. Dont add yourself to the list they already have growing. Look at the facts.Nothing good has come out of anything Sea World has done, except for the very few they really did rescue and release back into the wild for reasons of no money to be made on those releases had they kept them. Do not help Sea World kill mammals, they shouldnt even be allowed to have a gerbil in their pocket. Former trainers have spoke out against SeaWorld, listen to their words

  18. Michelle Roverud
    phoenix
    May 8, 2012, 3:30 am

    Wild animals should never be captive or used for greed or cultural purposes. The Barbi twins are correct. If The Cove, Whale Wars, Skin Trade, and footage of Rhino/Elephant/Tiger poaching were required viewing then maybe people would change their ways. If you go to Sea World, buy Ivory or fur you are as good as torturing and or killing these creatures yourself. Wake up humans, especially Asian countries which are THE WORST. BornFree!

  19. Jordan Schaul
    May 8, 2012, 1:47 am

    Wow. I know the Barbi Twins have a passionate following, but I didn’t see this amount of passion coming my way. I think I will swim away with my tail fin tucked away.

  20. Carey
    Perth western Australia
    May 7, 2012, 11:28 pm

    Just so you no Matel. Next time I’m in the toy shop with my child, I shall be removing these toys from the shelves and putting them in the gardening section so no child finds them. Plus will be telling all the mothers I know to boycote Barbie.

  21. Bart Hoppenbrouwers
    Ireland
    May 7, 2012, 10:56 pm

    To put it plain and simple ,the slaughter in Taiji will go on as long as SeaWorld and other marine parks keep doing their shows and keep cetaceans in captivity.Not one animal should have to perform tricks for food or a treat ,they were born to be free.Promotion of the captivity industry by toy manufacturers is at least ridiculous,beside Mattel there’s Playmobil with a dolphin basin set in the product range.For me it’s the Barbi twins and SSCS all the way ,common sense rules !!

  22. Lindie0
    Ontario, Canada
    May 7, 2012, 10:38 pm

    This was a very disappointing article. I tried to keep an open mind as the sinking feeling induced by the words set in, but I still cannot fathom how someone could work with captive cetaceans, and then move on to study them in the wild . . . yet still condone the educational value of captivity. Seems rather like someone interested in human psychology starting that career path in a prison – where nothing is normal or healthy for the absolutely dependent inmates – and then moving into the “real” world to a far more enriching study of people in society at large. Strangely, however, this person still sees the prison experience as a valuable first step to understanding human nature, despite the crippling psychological factor of the prison on the inmates stripped of their integrity and free will. There seems to be a gaping disconnect here, especially from one who professes that marine mammal trainers form such a respectful, deep bond with the cetaceans. If the bond is so deep and respectful, where is the empathy from one intelligent, creative animal exercising his free will to another intelligent, creative animal who is held captive in an absolutely dependent circus animal existence?

    As far as SeaWorld Trainer Barbie goes, the only thing Mattel seemed to get right there was the relative size of the tank to the captive seal, dolphin and orca performers. Lolita (Tokitae ) at the Miami Seaquarium comes immediately to mind every time I see Barbie and her captive cetacean career set. I wish Mattel would lose the stick, lose the tank, lose the whole damned toy. SeaWorld trainer is hardly a career I’d want any compassionate child to aspire to achieving.

  23. angel
    Miami
    May 7, 2012, 10:10 pm

    The Barbi Twins get my vote! Mattel loses my business. it is better to come out with a Barbie that is a Marine Conservationist and a dvd/game/book for education of them instead.
    Lolita and her pals need to be free!

  24. Jeff
    United States
    May 7, 2012, 9:40 pm

    We will one day view cetacean captivity equivalent to the circus. SeaWorld’s most accurate name is SeaCircus. Thank you Shane & Sia for lending your voices to this important cause. David Kirby’s book “Death at SeaWorld” is coming soon, in July. Until then, read about captivity here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/47286597/Keto-Tilikum-Express-the-Stress-of-Orca-Captivity

  25. Mo Brock
    USA
    May 7, 2012, 6:40 pm

    Thank you for posting this! The growing awareness within the public must not overlook the early, early outreach to children by an alliance between the marine mammal captivity industry and the toy manufacturers. I wrote about this a couple of times, and suggested to Mattel and Playmobil some ideas for a better toy, one that teaches responsible engagement with and appreciation of marine mammals and other ocean creatures. I would love to hear your thoughts over at Cove Blue. Again, thank you! http://coveblueforjiyu.com/2012/05/06/mattel-or-playmobil-some-ideas-for-whale-and-dolphin-friendly-toy/

  26. Sheri Hubball
    Bahamas
    May 7, 2012, 5:51 pm

    I would like to know if Mr. Schaul has ever watched The Cove & seen what goes on in places like Taiji, Japan. If he is aware of the hell involved in capturing these animals which belong in the wild, open ocean. It has been proven that cetaceans are extremely intelligent beings that form life-long families (pods). These magnificent beings do not belong in captivity, ripped from their natural environment & all they have ever known for our amusement & to earn corporations like SeaWorld huge bucks. When people see these animals in captivity they are not learning about these animals because they are not seeing them in their natural environment, instead they watch them perform silly tricks which have been forced upon them. Children should not be being taught to be a SeaWorld trainer, they should be being taught to respect nature & that everything has its place in this world. A cetacean’s place is not trapped in a concrete tank, it is in the wild, traveling miles, feeding naturally & enjoying complex relationships within their pod. This is an awful move by Mattel!

  27. Dominique
    CA, US
    May 7, 2012, 3:29 pm

    I agree with the Barbi sisters and SSCS that the capture and confinement of any wild animal is a cruel process. Specifically the Dolphins captured by the Japanese is atrocious, just watch the Cove, brutal murdering these Dolphins just to get a few to SELL to the Zoo’s and Aquariums. I also realize there is an extensive wildlife trade that the Fish and Wildlife seems to have no to little control over that is making whole species of animals extinct at a rapid rate, and this may allow the need for WELL run Sanctuaries that provide a mirrored environment of more freedom limits for these animals to engage with being observed by humans, not what is being done now with making the animals “entertain” the public, that is not a true and respectful representation. So, I will agree with Dr. Grey Stafford if he believes that the Zoo’s should be reorganizing themselves as a natural wildlife environment, such as, (Wildlife Safari in Winston, OR) for certain species, but the Whales and the Dolphins right now the Oceans are being polluted at a unimaginable rate, but kept in small tanks doing tricks should be a crime, and Dr. Staffords statement, “repugnant and serve to trivialize the agony of millions of human beings past and present. Such reprehensible comparisons should offend everyone, whether they are pro zoo or not.” This reflects someone that disrespects animals as equals to their right to live on this planet and refers to animals as a “commodity”, which is not someone I would want representing the criteria for what these Zoo/Sanctuaries SHOULD be. Just imagine a “Huge” penned in area off the coast with a walking bridge over it, where people can “observe” a Family pod with camera’s.

  28. westdeltagirl
    May 7, 2012, 2:51 pm

    If my earlier comments is approved – I’d like to make a correction Lolita is not at Seaworld, she’s at The Miami Seaquarium, owned by Hertz.
    and my 4th paragraph should read like this:

    I don’t believe anything SeaWorld, the Sea Aquarium or anty other such facility has said about what makes them ideal places to study these beautiful creatures in their TINY POOLS.

    The Miami Seaquarium have promised a larger pool for Lolita, the killer Orca – so named by the Miami Seaquarium’s PR dept but whose name really is Toki) for many years now. Toki/Lolita needs to be allowed to live out her life in the Puget Sound with her family because she has SLAVED away for more than 40 years earning SeaWorld MILLIONS of $$$$$. Let’s not wait till she dies in her bathtub, alone. LET HER GO NOW

  29. westdeltagirl
    United States
    May 7, 2012, 2:32 pm

    This is product totally offends me. The world does not need more dolphin trainers – the world needs more compassionate, aware and mindful people.

    Dolphin trainers are not trainers – they are abusers. Seaworld is not a place to go see dolphins or orca’s and learn anything useful from watching them perform in a TINY POOL. This is not 1950 – when we didn’t know better – well now we do know better and nothing new of any consequence can be learned by watching animals in cages or tiny pools. Maybe people were encouraged to go into marine biology as a career but I’ll bet many people never went to a marine amusement park when they were children and they still became marine biologists – so this is not a viable reason to make these ‘marine trainer’ Barbi dolls.

    I don’t believe anything SeaWorld says – they have promised a larger pool for Lolita, the killer Orca – so named by SeaWorld’s PR dept but whose name really is Toki) for many years now. Toki/Lolita needs to be allowed to live out her life in the Puget Sound with her family because she has SLAVED away for more than 40 years earning SeaWorld MILLIONS of $$$$$. Lots not wait till she dies in her bathtub, alone. LET HER GO NOW

    Dr. Stafford – here is the definition of slavery – make sure you read the 4th definition

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/slavery?s=t

    Doing the same thing everyday in a TINY POOL is definition #4. severe toil; drudgery.

    So get off your high horse about offending human slavery – read your dictionary once in a while!

    Thank you Barbi Twins for speaking up about this stupid marketing product…is there a petition yet?

  30. Christopher Murphy
    Orlando, Florida
    May 7, 2012, 1:22 pm

    I’m in Orlando where there is a Sea World. I know people who have worked there who tell me the marine animal are all treated hideously and suffer from mental stress from living in tanks. This should not be encouraged. The toy is a negative thing. Cheers to the Barbi Twins for championing this and so many other causes (including and especially our nation’s horses)!

  31. David W. Lincoln
    Canada
    May 7, 2012, 12:48 pm

    As long as balance is eschewed, people need to pay attention to the Barbi Sisters, because the repercussions of
    life being out of balance are simply too big to ignore.

  32. Jess
    Australia
    May 7, 2012, 12:23 pm

    There is a world of difference between studying something by observing it going about its business in its own habitat and capturing, training and holding something prisoner. While Dr. Stafford speaks about reputable organisations, he neglects many of the ones which quite clearly aren’t, and there have been plenty of examples over the years where these beautiful, highly intelligent creatures have been abused.

    Furthermore, he does little to address the fact that the animals in “amusement parks” are being exploited. This isn’t in the name of research any more than a circus act is. I love the idea of zoos educating the public about why our world is so fragile and precious, and commend the ones assisting with breeding programs for endangered species… but that doesn’t need cute performances, which is what the doll is promoting. If it was “Marine Biologist Barbie,” I’d be supportive… but it’s “Wild Animal Trainer Barbie.” :/

  33. [...] Barbi Twins vs. Barbie and Mattel’s New Marine Mammal Trainer Doll [...]

  34. Anthony
    New Jersey
    May 7, 2012, 12:03 pm

    The Barbi Twins seriously are beautiful people. Thank you so much for using your voices for the animals!

  35. Lisa Harris
    United States
    May 7, 2012, 11:48 am

    I couldn’t agree more with the Barbi sisters. This new toy seriously promotes the Taiji Dolphin slaughters and many more around the world. Shameful!

  36. stef
    May 7, 2012, 10:30 am

    Wait a minute, did I just read that animals are being trained to ” voluntarily participate in their own care and species survival”? Seriously, I don’t know who you think is reading this but that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever read. Animals don’t need to be trained to survive. People need to be trained to let them.

  37. stef
    May 7, 2012, 10:23 am

    When a “zoo’s” purpose is to rehabilitate animals from injuries sustained in the wild or to learn how to preserve a species, ok. However, I believe many zoos say they are doing research much in the same way that Japan’s whaling ships do it–claiming research is done even though it’s all about the mighty dollar. How is forcing a large marine animal to jump through hoops or wave to a kid or make a big splash at all beneficial to the species? It isnt, it’s just pure ‘entertainment’. And guess haw they get those marine animals? I’ll give you a hint and its not pretty. Its called the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Yep, the “lucky ones” whom aren’t murdered are sent off to lifetime captivity. Can anyone here say that those dolphins and other marine mammals deserve to be ripped from their pods and forced to live a solitary life doing tricks for amusement. One more thing, check out the diet of these animals, its full of medicine for ulcers and other stress related ailments. They would not need this medicine if they were left in the wild where they belong.

  38. Holise E Cleveland III
    United States
    May 7, 2012, 9:57 am

    I’m amazed that National Geographic would be even remotely condoning cetacean captivity. There was a time when Jacques Cousteau would have been an avid supporter of National Geographic. I can only assume that he is now turning over in his grave.

    “There’s about as much educational benefit studying dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary.” – Jacques Cousteau

  39. Bella
    May 7, 2012, 9:06 am

    I would love a barbie that are an “Ingrid Visser doll including boat and orcas” or a “Paul Watson doll including SSCS vessel and minke whales”

  40. Karen Fabregas
    Wisconsin, USA
    May 7, 2012, 7:35 am

    Sea World should not have any live Mammals in it’s facility.. They should only provide information on the mammals of the ocean and that is it.. These mammals live in an ocean not in a small cubical of a space.. They have deep emotional attachments to one another and form bonds with an entire pod. It really breaks my heart to see any animal of any kind locked away for human pleasure.. I can only hope humans who do such an act of cruelty will also suffer the same fate in their life-time. Remember God is watching you also.

  41. Ima Ryma
    May 7, 2012, 4:46 am

    The Barbie SeaWorld Trainer’s not
    A big hit with the Barbi twins,
    Who believe all zoos are a lot
    Of mistreatment from human sins
    Against the creatures of the wild,
    Forced to live in captivity,
    So human stuff can be compiled.
    But that’s the way that humans be.
    One day perhaps E.T.s will land
    And make the Earth into a zoo,
    So then humans would understand
    More the Barbi twins point of view.

    The zoo animals that we see –
    They one day could be you and me.

  42. audra lariene
    wa
    May 7, 2012, 4:28 am

    *** Sorry typo…….we will be at the Bonneville Dam to oppose the killing of Sea Lions because they eat fish!

  43. audra lariene
    wa
    May 7, 2012, 4:22 am

    I Have the utmost respect for Shane and Sia Barbie and Paul Watson andSea Shepherd. What you won’t hear from Sea World is how Tillikum the Orca that killed his trainer was ripped from his family in the wild around age 4. You won’t hear about the solphins being slaughtered in Taiji. And as for kids having their only chance to see these beautiful mammals at Sea World is a LIE!!! Thewre is whale watching where you can see them in their natural habitat happpy and free. My 11 year old son Trevor runs a facebook page called Let Lolita Live…he along with others are trying to get Lolita out from her tiny pool in Miami Seaquarium…also brutally kidnapped from her family at a young age. My son started this page when he was 9. He is a huge supporter of Sea Shepherd and will bke a Dam Guardian with me to oppose the Sea Lions at the Bonneville dam for eating fish! If you aask him he will tell you how against captivvity he is. His 5 year old sister will tell you also. She told people on Save Japans. Dolphin Day to “stop killing dolphins”. We oppose this barbie as it is a blatant lie and encourages places like Sea World to keep enslaving all these wonderful animals like the Barbie Twins said..if they don’t perform or they attack which is in their nature if they feel threatenned they will go without food….torture them..or in Tilikms case they will keep him regardless of all the people he has killed because he is their sperm donor…which just goes to prove they have No respect for animal of human life. I will tell everyone I know to Neverbut this barbie and my 5 year old who loves barbies tell me “Mommy that is wrong”.

  44. Maryann
    CT. USA
    May 7, 2012, 4:00 am

    This is an outrage and Mattel will never get another dime from me! I have always respected Mattel for their Barbie Dolls, different generations, cultures and occupations but a Marine Trainer IS NOT a respectable job at all! Why anyone would rip a Dolphin or a Whale from it’s god given habitat away from it’s family to make them live in bathtubs and do tricks for food is beyond my imagination! There in NOTHING educational about that! what’s next? Poacher Barbie? We need to stop capturing these animals and making them prisoners, it’s time for these babies to know what freedom is, this practice is for $$$ purposes only and anyone buying a ticket to a Marine park, Circus or Zoo is just helping these sick people stay in business, teach your children that all animals deserve to be free, animals have rights too, who are we to take them away?Taiji Japan is the slaughter capital of the world and what they don’t kill goes to various Marine parks and Aquariums around the world spending hours in a coffin like box under sedatives and excruciating noise from airplane engines! that alone could kill them! $laveworld is a horrible place and the animals are not happy there, if you’ve ever seen a wild Dolphin you’d see the difference..wake up, people! Thank you Shane and Sia Barbie for speaking up against this atrocity in Taiji, I commend you! Mattel, you’ve really stooped low on this one!

  45. [...] Barbi Twins vs. Barbie and Matel's New Marine Mammal Trainer DollNational GeographicHubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is “dedicated to promoting scientific interest and understanding among young people and the community to ensure that the next generation of research pioneers will be competitive in the world of science and industry. [...]

  46. JUDY AUSTIN
    Idaho
    May 7, 2012, 2:39 am

    This has to STOP! IT IS NOT ENTERTAINING AND NO ANIMAL, MAMMAL SHOULD BE ON DISPLAY! LEAVE THEM THE HELL ALONE AND LIVE THEIR LIVES FREE WHERE THEY ARE MEANT TO BE! STUPID HUMANS!