Who wouldn't want to ride a whale?
Jesse and Willy made it look so fun. Keisha made it look even better. And every time one of those enormous beasts crashes out of SeaWorld's swimming pool, the people in the stands cheer and cry with Southern Californian delight.
But SeaWorld's in the drink. Since the documentary Blackfish exposed a history of captive orcas going crazy, lawmakers in California have faced intensifying pressure to pop a lid on SeaWorld's pools. More than a million people have signed a petition to have its orca shows banned, and though politicians have tabled the latest effort for at least another year, one senses live orca shows in the United States are soon to be a thing of the past.
Good riddance, too.
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And before you label me a pocket-mulching, worm-worshipping, stage-five vegan, please understand I've no particular fondness for whales.
They're majestic, absolutely. They're rare, too. But if they could be sustainably farmed and humanely harvested I'd have no qualms downing a Free Willy with fries.
I am, though, increasingly uncomfortable with seeing captive animals on show, in any form. My last visit to a zoo was in China, involved three concrete walls, fluorescent lights and an undoubtedly demented panda.
Though SeaWorld's pens are significantly bigger and Western standards undoubtedly more comfortable, for me there's little distinction between anything in captivity that exists only to give us Sunday kicks. We lock stuff up just for a gander?
Animals in captivity educate and entertain us, but can we really achieve such things while giving any species - big, small, smart or dumb - freedom of any kind? The concepts are mutually exclusive.
SeaWorld's shows may still take years to shut down. But it'll happen. And freeing Willy may only be a start of things to come.
• Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday