I don't know how to resolve Sea World's Tilikum dilemma. All I know is that this story has made me think, again, about the morality of keeping animals in zoos, aquariums and amusement parks so that human beings may be entertained for a few hours a day. In the past two years I've visited the San Diego Zoo and the Georgia Aquarium. On both occasions I was mildly uneasy about the fact that I was enjoying nature in starkly unnatural, artificial settings. That unease has prevented me from visiting the National Zoo just down the road from me in Washington, DC. Tilikum's story has compelled me to take a position on this issue. As of this moment, I am putting a personal moratorium on visits to zoos, aquariums and the like. I don't know if I'll change my mind about this in the future. All I know is that, for the time being, I can't justify holding other living beings captive for my amusement. I mourn both Dawn Brancheau's lost life and Tilikum's lost freedom. Both losses were senseless and unnecessary. That's the real tragedy of this story.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times reports that "A SeaWorld official said Wednesday the animal would not be put down."