Baby product firm offers $1 million for orca ocean refuge
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 04/09/16 - 06:06 AM | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steven Dunn, CEO of Munchkin Inc.
Steven Dunn, CEO of Munchkin Inc.
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Some feel SeaWorld's recent announcement that the world-renowned marine park will cease its orca shows and stop breeding the marine mammals didn't go far enough.

Like Steven Dunn, CEO of Munchkin, Inc., a Van Nuys firm developing products for babies and children, who's offered $1 million to fund an orca ocean sanctuary.

Of SeaWorld's recent about-face, Dunn said, “It's a move in the right direction,” while adding, “Everyone who's really focused on ending captivity believes that it's too little in the sense that it doesn't included belugas (another captive whale species).”

On top of their proposed sanctuary funding, Munchkin recently launched their #OrcasLiveInOceans initiative. After 10 years of making a toy orca whale within their bath toy set, the company's put their principles before profit in removing the orca from their top-selling Sea Squirt Bath Toy Collection.

They've even made a video titled “Because a Bathtub Isn't Big Enough for an Orca,” to dramatize its decision.

In a move to rebuild its brand and focus attention on its conservation efforts, Orlando-based SeaWorld announced in March that it will phase out its traditional Shamu show in San Diego, opting for a show more about orcas' behaviors in the wild. The traditional shows will stop in 2016, and the following year, SeaWorld will open an exhibit designed to take place in a natural setting.

Characterizing SeaWorld's decades-old business model as “broken,” Dunn said that Munchkin is committed to leaving the planet with a brighter future for our children and the next generation, and part of that is (upholding) animal rights and treating animals with respect. I think orcas and whales, in particular, should not be held in captivity.”

Dunn offered a suggestion for how the public could be educated in the future about orcas without having them on captive exhibit.

“The model we should be using is virtual reality (computer simulation),” he said. “There are a lot better ways of experiencing – or educating – young people, in a fun and entertaining way.”

Discussing his orca sanctuary proposal, Dunn said, “It would be a natural inlet, a bay or a cove, that would be 20 football fields large and 80-feet deep, and be netted off to keep the orcas in.”

Dunn likened his orca sanctuary proposal to “taking elephants from the zoo who've been standing on stools and retiring them to a 100-acre park, where they could roam free and not be restricted to a 20-foot by 20-foot enclosure.”

Concerning the prospects for success of his envisioned orca sanctuary, Dunn said, “It's going to happen.”

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