Hi everyone, it’s Brooke! I am in desparate need of your help!
On our trip to the Cayman Islands, we had several interactions with wildlife. I mean who doesn’t love spending time with animals on their vacation? Safaris, zoos, Seaworld, selfies with exotic creatures, you name it, people are doing it. I was one of those people, until now!
I’m not sure whether or not I was ignorant or just blinded by childhood innocence or denial, but when we arrived at the Cayman Turtle Farm, I was immediately struck with a sickening feeling in my gut. I have swam with sea turtles in the wild in Hawaii, and I have never heard them gasping for air like the turtles at this Sea Turtle Farm.
Furthermore, there were these horrible concrete wading pools that were overcrowded with young sea turtles. I saw first hand how disgustingly dirty the water was in these pools. As kids try to pick up the innocent turtles they tried to squirm away but there was nowhere for them to go. The kids chased them around the knee high pool, trapping them until they were carelessy lifted out of the water and held up like trophies for photo ops. I witnessed toddlers picking them up like toys and dropping them! I was in total shock and asked my mom how she could bring me here. She was just as shocked and said she had no idea such a horrible place existed.
The Cayman Island Sea Turtle Farm claims to help endangered sea turtles and keep them healthy, but it was crystal clear, unlike their water, that they were lying, so when I returned home, I began digging into research. They are in fact hiding the horrific truth:
According to animal welfare investigations, the hundreds of sea turtles there are packed into crowded pools that have salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria dangerous to the turtles and the people who touch them. Upon further research, I found that besides using these turtles as a tourist attraction, the farm operates breeding tanks, where the turtles are slaughtered for food! The farm claims they release some of the turtles into the wild, but they are diseased! That can only hurt natural environments even further. Are you kidding me?!
Apparently, The Cayman Island Sea Turtle Farm is the only Sea Turtle Farm left in the world. How could this be happening in 2016? My mom and I left the farm with sick stomachs and tears in our eyes. This was blatant animal abuse and we were supporting it!
Now, yes even though I have made such a stupid mistake and didn’t do the proper research doesn’t mean I can’t do something to make a change now. Being only 13, it’s hard to have your voice heard, but this is where you all come in:
We need to make a stand against this. It isn’t fair for these innocent, beautiful helpless animals, and it is certainly not right for the workers to get paid to lie to people! Animals may only seem like food to some people but to me they are not. They have families and aren’t out to hurt any of us. They deserve to live freely and enjoy their lives, not suffer everyday for our pleasure only to have their fate end so tragically.
What Can You Do?
- When you see captive wild animals on your vacations, you often can’t see the cruelty. It’s hidden from view. Whether taken from the wild or bred in captivity, all captive wild animals are in pain and are suffering. Use common sense, unlike us–do not swim with dolphins, take selfies with baby tigers, ride on elephants, etc. Your ten minutes of fun for their life time of misery–NOT HAPPENING!
- Use social media to get the word out and to learn about how to be animal friendly on vacation.
- Record inappropriate treatment and report it to the appropriate local authorities. In the case of the Cayman Turtle Farm, it is government run, so we need to seek help from animal rights organizations.
- Enjoy animals in the wild.
5. Protect the environment on which wildlife depends
6. Join Organizations that help save animals suffering from the tourism industry.
My favorite is: worldanimalprotection.org
I hope and pray this horrible place shuts down as soon as possible. I loved our trip to Grand Cayman but this knowledge has and forever will taint my memories of this trip. Please help me take action. Do you know what else we can do? Please comment and offer suggestions.