I remember listening to a ranger who loved and respected bears and did not care for zoos. As a child, I thought zoos were wonderful. Seeing pictures of bears is not the same as seeing a real live bear. Many don't have the means to travel and search for bears in their natural habitat - and even then - watching through binoculars is still not the same as being close - though having an animal remain behind bars seems cruel.
A zoo can never provide the same amount of space for each animal as each animal is given in the wild. The animals don't have to share inversion with humans as they do in the city - where their space is very limited. Animals in captivity don't necessarily live longer than animals in the wild. Perhaps the contrary. There will always be two sets of answers. That doesn't make them accurate.
I have never been Seaworld in Florida. I don't know if I'd ever gone to the one in California. I'm thinking not. I actually don't think I was ever given opportunity. My answer just last week may have been for going, but I know that if I was given the opportunity right now, I'd have to decline. Roland and I have recently watched a documentary called Blackfish (trailer found here) and it's made me rethink a lot about animals who are in captivity and how the focus on "bringing in money" often has a higher cost than we can imagine. In this case, to the killer whales trapped in a space too small for growth, a trainer named Dawn Brancheau, and marketing "cover-ups". This documentary was a real eye opener.
The emotions of animals are real. Just because humans are not able to communicate with animals on the same level as we do with one another does not mean feelings don't exist. Animals are capable of loving and grieving. And just like us, they need room to grow. It is wrong to take an animal out of the ocean and put it in a much smaller container - no matter how large the container, it will never be as large as the ocean.
Animals are beautiful creatures. Like us, they need a place to grow.