"My first protest, along with later (and earlier) experiences, pushed me to understand the importance of nature and many unseen follies of mankind." -- Zach Affolter
On the way to the protest, my heart pounded inside my chest. Buildings flew by on the freeway. I clenched my fists as a SeaWorld billboard came into view. I scowled, rolled my eyes, and turned my back on the advertisement. I will be fooled no longer. I will illuminate this cruelty for the world to see.
The words “SeaWorld Drive” glared in the morning sun as the car veered off the freeway. A towering blue pole grasped the sky in the distance and a nauseous feeling crept over me, as if the weight of the sky was on my shoulders. The car came to a halt in the South Shores boat ramp and I began walking nervously to the intersection of SeaWorld Drive. A red light glared ominously just above the street, commanding the cars to stop. After they stalled obediently, the light changed to green, signaling the cars to speed into the park.
Protestors next to me spoke to people as they drove by, trying to make them understand that keeping cetaceans in captivity is unacceptable. But I still stood silently at the edge of the curb with my sign, too nervous to say anything. I glanced back behind me. Shamu Stadium jutted just above the trees. A new nauseous feeling consumed me.
Throughout the remainder of the protest, I continued chanting and even pressed the crosswalk button so people had to obey the red light and be educated on the truth – that the whole world is trapped in a trance, hidden beneath a veil of theme park music, breathtaking tricks, and claims that the animals are happy. Cars lined up all the way to the end of SeaWorld drive as they waited for the signal to enter the park. Today there are a lot fewer.
I began creating videos that displayed its beauty– the beauty that we need to preserve and protect. For the first two years, each of my videos conveyed a specific realm of the natural world (i.e. the desert, arctic, rainforest, oceans). The video below, “The Mysterious Rainforest,” features features flora and fauna from the Amazon.
Being out in nature enriches and heals you. Cetaceans born in captivity or taken from their natural home don't have this option. They are trapped behind concrete walls, left to deal with thousands of ignorant screaming people every day, the emotional trauma of being ripped from their family if they were captured, and the stress associated with decaying social bonds in captivity. There is nowhere to hide, nowhere to heal. They are too far from heaven to be themselves.
My first protest, along with later (and earlier) experiences, pushed me to understand the importance of nature and many unseen follies of mankind.
My next blog is about my experiences and connections with the natural world. Stay tuned...