Porcelain Prisons


Joined March 2011

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This image from my Glass Walls series (http://sarahallegra.com/GlassWalls.html) has been a hard photo for me to get online because I have so, so much that I want to say about it. Not just say. Scream. Pound my fists against the wall (or on a deserving subject). The inspiration behind it enrages me so much, it makes it difficult to remain rational in my description.

That said, this image was inspired by the documentary Blackfish. You probably know what it’s about, but for those who don’t, it exposes the horrific abuse that goes on in SeaWorld and many, many other marine parks of the kind. Certainly, some may not be as bad as SeaWorld, but when it comes down to it, none of these animals should be in captivity. Especially the orcas.

Kidnapped from their mothers’ sides as young calves. Forced to perform in order to eat. Kept in cramped tiny cages where orca-on-orca violence is rampant. Physically and psychologically tortured every single day. Artificially inseminated at very young ages, only to have their young ripped from them and sent to other parks. SeaWorld claims to be a place to celebrate these animals. The truth is, their tanks may as well be filled with the orcas’ tears.

It’s no wonder that after being kept in such conditions for years and years, many of them become psychotic. They snap and attack their trainers. They may kill their trainers or members of the public who get too close. Frequently, this destructive, hopelessness is turned inward. They bash their heads against the walls of their tanks and chew their teeth to nubs, driven mad in their tiny tanks. Some will have their teeth drilled out of their head – all of their teeth – without any anesthetic at all. Having been to the dentist for far less serious procedures, I can hardly imagine the excruciating pain.

Captive whales typically live about 8-20 years. In the wild, males usually live to about 50-70 and females can reach 80-100. We are essentially looking at human lifespans for these incredibly intelligent, sentient creatures. I suspect they welcome their extremely early deaths.

The size of the tanks they live in has been likened to a human living his whole life in a cage the size of a bathtub. Imagine it: at two, you’re kidnapped by a different species, made to perform or you won’t be fed, and every minute you’re not performing, you’re locked back into a cell which makes solitary confinement housing look spacious. How well adjusted would you be? Never mind the malnutrition, being forced to constantly pop out babies, the lack of any positive or natural stimuli. Even with the best of intentions, a marine park would never be able to replicate life in the wild for an orca. And SeaWorld has no intentions for anything other than increasing its bottom line.

To help address this atrocity which continues every day, I asked Travis to shove himself into a bathtub for me and photographed him on a ladder. Now imagine that that tub is virtually his entire world. He’s spent years in there. Would you want to watch a show where he was forced to perform? If he started lashing out against his captors, would you blame him? If he tried to end his own life, would you be surprised?

I addressed SeaWorld a bit more directly in a blog post that you can read here: https://sarahallegra.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/a... There’s also a great article here to get you started on learning the truth behind the lies SeaWorld tells:http:/seaworldofhurt.com/features/ten-things-didnt-know-seaworld/

I often feel helpless about this problem. I can’t physically break into a park and carry the whales out to sea by myself, one by one. And even if I could, the ones born into captivity usually can’t make it in the wild anymore. But we can do something. Boycott them. Spread the word. Counter their lies with truth. SeaWorld’s only care is profit, and if that dries up, they’ll eventually do the right thing. They’ll stop kidnapping whales. They’ll stop their horribly incestuous breeding program. They’ll let the poor whales who are left live out their days in a large, protected enclosure in the sea. It’s not freedom, but they’ve taken that option away from these innocent beasts. It’s their best chance at a good life.

Blackfish is widely available for viewing, including streaming on Netflix. I urge you to watch it if you have not yet seen it. But more than that, I ask, no, implore you; do not support SeaWorld or any other marine park with your money. When the money goes, so will they, and one incredible injustice in the world will finally stop.

Please feel free to share this image around online! The more people who know about the issues, the better for all!

Model – Travis Weinand: https://instagram.com/sunsethogan

*Twitter: http://twitter.com/sarahallegra
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*Blog: http://sarahallegra.wordpress.com/
*Prints: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SarahAllegraArtistry/ and www.agallery.co.uk/gallery/sarah_allegra.php?pg=1
*Red Bubble – a wide range of items to choose from! http://www.redbubble.com/people/sarahallegra
*Site: http://sarahallegra.com

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