Yesterday a U.S. House committee held a hearing examining the educational benefit of marine mammals in captivity. If you're interested, you can watch the archived footage of the hearing.
Julie Scardina, Animal Ambassador for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, testified before the committee along with a representative from AZA, several scholars, a representative from the Humane Society of the United States, and the director of the recent documentary "The Cove" (who repeatedly called marine mammal exhibits "dolphin circus shows"). IAAPA submitted a letter for the record on behalf of its zoo and aquarium members. Additionally, several IAAPA member facilities submitted letters discussing the educational, environmental, and economic benefit zoos and aquariums provide.
IAAPA members know how seeing dolphins, orcas, polar bears, and other marine mammals (and more generally, all wildlife) inspire children and adults to learn about science and conservation because they see it first-hand. Moreover, we know the benefits zoo and aquarium facilities provide by allowing visitors to see animals that they would otherwise not be able to see in an up-close, safe, family-friendly environment.
Overall, the hearing was informative for the subcommittee and the public. SeaWorld did an excellent job explaining the many ways it contributes to education and conservation in the U.S. It is unclear if any "next steps" will come from this hearing, but as always, we will keep members updated on the issue.