Thankfully, I have seen a switch in consumer mentality over the past few years. Sea World has seen a considerable decline in attendance, Ringling Brothers circus ceased shows in 2017, and cities and states across the U.S. (and the world) are banning traveling circuses. I hope that humans are starting to become aware that non-human animals are being viewed and treated as commodities and being used for our entertainment. I know I have become acutely aware of my actions and thinking. In addition to going to Seaworld multiple times, I have ridden on an elephant, held a baby tiger at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, visited many zoos, and driven through wildlife parks. I have always considered myself to be an animal lover, but I never really thought about how the non-human animals lived or felt on a daily basis.
My desire to want to see wildlife is still deep-seated. I love seeing how non-human animals live, behave, and interacted with other non-human animals and their environment, as well as humans. Instead of going to where I can see non-human animals in captivity, I have found ways to see them in their natural environment. I have been on wildlife sightseeing cruise in the New England area where I saw humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, and a variety of seabirds. I find time to walk in nature, which has it own healing benefits, to see birds, spiders, different types of squirrels, chipmunks, slugs, amphibians, fish, and even snakes on some outings. It is a captivating feeling walking on a trail, and you look up to see an owl staring at you. That always seems to happen when I don’t have my camera with me! However, one of the most moving experiences that I have had was on a wildlife sightseeing cruise that left from Anacortes, Washington. We had been on the water for a little over an hour when different pods of orcas suddenly surrounded us. Seeing their fully upright dorsal fin, as compared to the collapsed dorsal fins I saw at Seaworld, as it protruded from the ocean was such a welcome sight. I may have cried the first time that I saw the orcas breach the water. There was a whole slew of emotions running through me. I was so thankful to be witnessing a rare showing of over 40 orcas, including Granny! At that time, Granny was estimated to be 105 years old ("Granny (orca)," n.d.)! Sadly, she died a few months after I saw her in 2016. The emotions were also because I was conjuring up the feelings I had while seeing the orcas at Seaworld. Many of the original orcas in captivity were hunted and taken from Puget Sound in Washington state, where I saw them in the wild ("The Heartbreaking," n.d.). At that moment, I knew, with certainty, these non-human animals (and all non-human animals in captivity) shouldn’t be confined to captivity just for our entertainment and use. They belong there in the wild with their own family.