It took SeaWorld over 30 years to finally end Orca breeding in captivity, which they announced last year. If it wasn’t for Blackfish, nothing would have changed. We are still a long way from saving these beautiful animals from a life of pain and suffering at the hands of people who only care about a profit.
Public outcry makes a difference. SeaWorld even spent $10M following the release of Blackfish on a new PR campaign to try to better their failing image rather than spending that money to better the lives of their animals. TEN MILLION DOLLARS.
For the past 30 years, Orcas at SeaWorld have been ripping the skin off each other, suffering from severe dental trauma, and displaying a host of abnormal psychological symptoms. They spend the entirety of their day in a bath tub when in the wild they would swim 100+ miles per day in open waters. That’s 3,105 lengths of the Seaworld pool, back and forth, all day, to get the same activity as in the wild. If you were in a bath tub for your entire life, you would feel violent, restless, sick, and bored as well. Collapsed dorsal fins are the norm. They are fed an unnatural diet of thawed dead fish and gelatin to keep them hydrated. In the wild, Orcas have strong social bonds that can last for life. Their social groups range from 2 to 15 Orcas at a time. Some calves will stay with their mothers for life. At Seaworld, they are usually ripped apart. In captivity, they are forced to live in tight quarters together which results in fights, injuries, and death.
Even with the announcement last year by SeaWorld that they would stop breeding their Orcas, on this Wednesday the last calf was born.
Even though the “theatrical” Shamu show is now scheduled to be shut down by 2019 (um, that’s a long time away), which included the whales mimicking human behaviors (kissing, jumping, shaking heads), do not be fooled. A brand new show lives on in 2017 at Shamu Stadium complete with faux trees and manmade waterfalls for a more “natural” and “wild” feel. “The Orca Experience.” The trainers will STILL use whistles and hand signals to “ASK” the Orcas to perform movements during a 22-minute show.
“They will still be breaching because whales breach in the wild,” Hannes, President Sea World San Diego, said. “Whales hunt in the wild, and they do movements where they flap their tail to stun their prey or they splash them or they come out of the water to grab a seal from the beach.”
Please, Marilyn Hannes, tell me what whale in the wild is being trained to use hand signals, react to whistles, and perform for humans in a bath tub. You are sadly mistaken. “We’re going to have whales for decades to come.” You are also sadly mistaken.
What is the solution? Can these Orcas be released into open ocean? No. But there ARE options. The only way this will change is if you continue to SPEAK UP. There are still 23 Orcas in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio. There are ocean-side sanctuaries where these creatures could live out the rest of their lives without ever having to perform for the reward of a dead, frozen fish.
Let’s also not forget that Tilikum DIED in his tank. He was captured from the open ocean when he was just two years old, and suffered for over 33 years.
If you have anything to spare, you can donate to The Whale Sanctuary Project.
Do your research and do not support places that only care about profit and not about the livelihood of their animals.
Edited on July 27, 2017:
With so much sadness I have to add that the last captive born calf mentioned in this article has passed away this week from an infection. The only joy in this is that we know Seaworld is done with breeding and no new Orcas will have to endure this pain and suffering.