Munchkin – Our Lead Sponsor
The Whale Sanctuary Project wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our primary sponsor, Munchkin, Inc., the global leader in developing innovative, modern and credible products for babies and children “to make parents’ lives easier and more enjoyable by thinking of ‘the little things’.” CEO and “Head Munchkin” Steven Dunn, has pledged $1 million toward the creation of a seaside sanctuary for orcas and beluga whales. Here’s how it came about.
In November 2015, two of our founding members, Naomi Rose and Samantha Berg, met Steven at a press conference in Santa Monica where Congressman Adam Schiff was announcing his plan to introduce legislation that would ban the captivity of orcas in the United States. Steven told them how he had recently reached out to SeaWorld, offering $1 million to help retire Tilikum to a seaside sanctuary, but that he’d never received a reply.
Naomi and Samantha told Steven about their involvement with a new organization, the Whale Sanctuary Project, which was setting out to create a sanctuary for orcas and belugas. Steven invited them back to his home for dinner and more discussion. (Samantha took a photo of the “orca cake” that had a toy orca spy-hopping out of ocean-blue icing!)
A few months later, Steven attended a day-long workshop at the 2016 Conference of Marine Mammalogy in San Francisco. The workshop was organized by Lori Marino and Naomi Rose, and featured presentations by experts in various fields of creating sanctuary: from veterinary care to husbandry to engineering to law and policy. Steven invited members of the team out to dinner and spoke of his interest in helping them to secure a site for a possible sanctuary.
Once the Whale Sanctuary Project was incorporated, and board member Charles Vinick had become our executive director, Steven reaffirmed Munchkin's commitment to donating $1 million over time to the creation of a seaside sanctuary, beginning with a grant to enable the Whale Sanctuary Project to become a formal organization and begin the process of finding a suitable sanctuary location.
Last year, 2017, Munchkin offered a second major donation, this time in the form of challenge grant, which was matched by our supporters. And this year, 2018, the company is offering another challenge grant that we are actively working to match.
How Munchkin’s CEO Embraced the Plight of Whales in Captivity
In this video, published by People magazine, CEO and “Head Munchkin” Steven Dunn describes being “really disturbed on a number of fronts” when he saw the movie Blackfish.
From People magazine online
A month later, he says, he had to undergo the claustrophobic, noisy experience of an MRI scan. On the way back into the office, he says, “it really dawned on me that that’s how orcas must feel in captivity, in these concrete tanks.”
Determined to give the whales a better life, Steven launched Project Orca (#OrcasLiveInOceans) on the Munchkin website, beginning with a commitment to remove the orca toy from their top-selling Sea Squirt Bath Toy collection: “Because a bathtub isn’t big enough for an orca.”
From Munchkin, Inc.
We’re deeply grateful to Steven and all “the Munchkins” as we work toward the final selection of a sanctuary location. None of this progress would have been possible without their active financial support, encouragement and advice.