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Whale Activism 101 Vs. Whale Rights 101

September 3, 2012

Recently an organization from Canada called “NoWhales In-Captivity” made a public statement on Facebook regarding Shouka and the petition that was circulating to get Shouka a companion.

No Whales  In-Captivity made this statement

WHALE ACTIVISM 101: “The orca Shouka was kept alone at the Six Flags whale jail in Vallejo, California, but last week after much protest, the whale jail shipped Shouka out to another facility and closed the orca tank forever. This is the kind of victories we need!!! However, well intentioned people like Lynn Unsworthand others, were promoting a petition that instead of demanding the closure of the tank, demanded that the whale jail buy and bring another whale to keep Shouka company. Please, let this be a lesson: NEVER EVER EVER urge a whale jail to buy more whales!!! ALWAYS fight to close the tank forever instead. Thank you to everyone involved with this successful campaign :)”

At no time did this petition ever demand a whale be purchased for Shouka’s companionship as stated in the post from No Whales In Captivity – “well intentioned people like Lynn Unsworth and others, were promoting a petition that instead of demanding the closure of the tank, demanded that the whale jail buy and bring another whale to keep Shouka company. Please, let this be a lesson: NEVER EVER EVER urge a whale jail to buy more whales!!! ALWAYS fight to close the tank forever instead.”

We are being contacted by individuals who signed the petition,  questioning the post because they did not remember seeing the petition stating for the purchase of another whale. No Whales In Captivity has been corrected several times through personal messages regarding this statement and has been asked personally by Wendy Brunot to remove it from public view for numerous reasons.

  1. The posting is degrading to every individual who signed the petition, over 7,000 people.
  2. The posting is a false statement and is being passed around as truth.
  3. They are publicly shaming individuals for signing the petition.

The post remains after the request to remove it. Not one time did No Whales In Captivity contact Wendy Brunote or myself regarding the wording on the petition and why we worded it that way nor did they even allow the post for Wendy to be able to make a public comment regarding what they were saying.  A strange public apology was made to Wendy Brunote regarding this post and other people’s comments such as this one from

Jennife Bennett: Ok
1) Six Flags tried to buy and import a wild caught whale shortly after they were refused to import Kshamenk. They were told they would never be allowed to import one. There was NO hope that SF would buy a wild whale. You are spreading misinformation on purpose.
2) The petition asks that they find ANY suitable companion, that includes dolphin companions from within SF itself.
3) Shouka is not a candidate for release due to having no teeth. Her only hope of a better life was finding her suitable companions.
4) We have been campaigning for seapens for years, and we are no closer than we before. Would you want Shouka to be alone for the next 50 years while we argued over getting her to a seapen?. If you do then you don’t have the animals best interests at heart.  Even is she was moved to a seapen, she would still be alone (which would be illegal).
5) Wendy is still continuing the fight to get all the captive whales to seapens and Shouka back with her family in France.
6) I am fighting to get the cetacean captivity to end, but that doesn’t mean I would condone keeping a whale alone for it’s whole life. Shouka’s case was unusual and extreme. She needed companionship NOW.
No Whales In Captivity wrote: Here’s what we wrote to Wendy: you deserve a ton of credit, no doubt. The final outcome of your work is absolutely fantastic causing Shouka to go to SW. Closing tanks is exactly what we are trying to accomplish, but we realize we were insensitive when trying to discuss it and must apoligize to you. We are also sorry we can’t back you up on that bit in the petition since our strategy is to discourage the companionship argument because it perpetuates whale jails. Of course we are celebrating big time that Vallejo is out of the orca buisiness and grateful to you for you have done, but we were very worried they might bring another whale, dolphin, pinguin, it doesn’t matter! Great that things worked out and we really hope that we can talk strategy and be in unison in the future.”

No Whales In Captivity is also taking credit for closing a tank at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This organization did nothing for Shouka but leave her to sit in confinement. On a Facebook post dated August 22nd, 2012 No Whales In Captivity stated “We were concerned because there were some well-meaning folks who wanted to get a tank inmate for Shouka, when we were pushing for the closure of the orca tank instead. And we won!

Where? When were they pushing for the tank closure at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom? Because not one group would stand up for Shouka’s rights or fight to close this tank down in the three years we have been concerned about Shouka. Not one organization stood up to help us fight for Shouka’s right, not one.

No whales in captivity is taking the meaning of the petition along with the good efforts of many indivduals out of context and using it as a victory for their cause.

There is a dark history between the organization” No Whales In Captivity” and Shouka that this organization is not sharing with the public. 

In 2002 a male wild caught orca named Kshamank was to be imported into America to be a companion for Shouka. Many organizations worked to try to block the importation of Kshamank.  Kshamenk’s importation was stopped by the high court of Argentina.

Shouka arrived to the United States theme park Six Flags Worlds of Adventure before Kshamenk’s case settled in court which meant Shouka would not have a companion while living at Six Flags, a violation of the Animal Welfare Act in the United States. I was told by Annelise from No Whales In Captivity “If it wasn’t for our work (and other groups) since 1992, Six Flags would happily be buying more whales right now.”

The darkness with Shouka now comes into play No Whales In Captivity KNEW Shouka was alone since 2002. They did NOTHING for Shouka. No Whales In Captivity did not continue a fight for Shouka when they knew she was alone…. instead they left a victim behind due to their style of advocacy work. They left a “whale” to live a life of isolation with no concerns for her all out of fear.

After the courts denied the importation of Kshamenk No Whales In Captivity among the other groups working on these matters could have campaigned to have Shouka’s permit revoked under the law and could have actually won most likely since the law was on their side. Thus closing a tank long ago. Instead they allowed Shouka to sit alone all this time knowing it was a violation of the law and it was due to advocacy work of many organizations. To claim this as a victory but downgrade the individuals who signed the petition for Shouka is outrageous to me and many others.

Another victory that No Whales In Captivity claimed to me was Bjossa being moved from Canada to SeaWorld.  “In 2001, we closed the orca whale tank in Vancouver  by simply opposing ANY new inmates coming to Vancouver.”  No Whales In Captivity claims it to be a victory because they closed a tank down even though Bjossa remained in captivity. No Whales In Captivity stated to Wendy Bruno “our strategy is to discourage the companionship argument because it perpetuates whale jails“. This is a total disregard for American law and the rights of cetaceans in captivity. On the website for No Whales In Captivity  they state they are a law-abiding organization yet they supported the law being violated regarding Shouka remaining alone by not standing up for her rights as an organization and working to close down a tank with which housed only one “whale”.  Moving a whale from one park to another leaves the animal still in captivity and I am not sure if this is really a victory in itself. We do not feel Shouka being moved to SeaWorld is a victory yet we do feel her being with others orcas is a victory for Shouka. We certainly can not claim a victory for closing a tank because we have no idea what will be placed in Shouka’s old tank as of right now. The park is not announcing what is happening with that tank until 2013.

What is not being acknowledged by No Whales In Captivity is this above stated strategy leaves animals suffering alone in captivity such as Shouka. To me personally this organization is no better than those who keep whales in captivity. This organization does not care about the actual welfare of the animals nor their rights by law while in captivity, they care about shutting down a tank as stated by Annelise from No Whales In Captivity. This organization only cares about shutting down a tank even if it means the whale goes from one tank to another such as the case with Bjossa.

No Whales In Captivity worked to try to stop the importation of a some dolphins from a Taiji hunt into a Canadian park, which was a violation of Canadian law. The groups efforts went unheard and the dolphins were imported anyways. Once the dolphins went into captivity the group admits they stopped working on the issue even though it was a violation of Canadian law and the dolphins remain in captivity to date.

The petition clearly stated the concerns were the violation of the law and that Shouka have a compatible companion. The concern of Wendy Bruno and the over 7,000 people who signed the petition was not shutting down a tank…they were concerned for the well being of Shouka and her trainers. No Whales In Captivity is trying to shame people who actually cared about the welfare of a captive orca all in the name of  “proper advocacy that they claim works”. Shouka is no longer at Six Flags and as of right now that tank sits empty without using their strategy.

I was told by No Whales In Captivity “Eventually, our local whale jail will run out of cetaceans. It works. And that’s why we want everyone to know that this strategy works: close the tanks!  We disagree on strategy, that’s all

There is no disagreement on strategy as the work that was done by Wendy Bruno and myself came from the heart. There was no strategy involved. We had empathy for Shouka and so did the individuals who signed the petition. We watched as Shouka’s behavior changed over time. We cared about Shouka and what would be best for SHOUKA, not the CAUSE. The CAUSE failed Shouka. No Whales In Captivity did nothing over the last ten years for Shouka nor did they have a public campaign to fight to close the tank  at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  They were content with Shouka just dying off alone. Yet they claim a victory for their cause?? They closed a tank??  I am confused since it was their cause that helped keep Shouka in the position she was in leaving Wendy and other individuals to come and clean up the mess they left behind using THEIR strategy.

I am Thankful for the work of the past efforts and these organizations for without them we would not have come as far as we have with regards to captivity issues. I though will not allow any organization to claim credit for something the people did with no help and distort a situation for their benefit.

I will not apologize for helping Wendy with the wording in the petition nor will I apologize for helping Shouka have a better life in captivity. I did not place her in captivity, nor have I been involved with these issues for 20 years or more, which by now laws should have been changed through the efforts of organizations such as No Whales In Captivity by now so that no organization needs to live in fear of helping a cetacean because another animal may have to move from another park to be a companion.

Marc Bekoff stated-

“Let’s make this the “century of global compassion, the era of empathy” and get rid of negativity once and for all. Perhaps a good resolution is that we will all try to do better for animals – both non-human and human – and earth and work for more peace and justice for all. We can and must keep our hopes and dreams alive and putting compassion and empathy on the front-burner is a must, and we must do it now”

So for those of you who signed the petition please do not feel guilty. Please do not be ashamed of your efforts. Shouka is in a better place and doing better. Please be proud you stood up for an animal’s rights when no one else would. Please know that you are a better person for caring about Shouka, not just the cause. Please do not allow others to disgrace your efforts for Shouka or any other animal that may need help in captivity. Until the laws are changed no animal should be left behind in captivity all in the name of animal rights and welfare. It is time for a change… the old ways of thinking “JUST CLOSE THE TANK!” is not the answer today. Today is a new day, one of compassion & empathy, one where new advocacy is needed for the animals in captivity. They do not have a voice, they depend on us. Please stand up for them and we all can continue to get the laws changed and eventually phase out the keeping of cetaceans in captivity as well. And please do not allow organizations who have no efforts towards helping captive animals who are suffering due to violations of the laws blind you. In the end it really is about the animals rights AND working towards changing the laws.


I would like to note that credit must be given to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Marineland France for doing right by Shouka…. well at least the best they could or saw fit for her. These corporations did not have to make the choice they did for Shouka, they could have easily placed another dolphin in with Shouka and called it a day. Six Flags will take a minor loss of patrons but they did it. I hope that they will learn, be cautious and even more responsible on how they replace Shouka’s show in 2013.  Who knows lots of people want a new roller coaster.

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