Blackfish: SeaWorld’s Killer Whales in Captivity
Raises Controversy in CNN Documentary
Ric O’Berry Exposes SeaWorld Mistreating Killer Whales
by Laura Douglas, contributing author
SeaWorld’s worst nightmare: Lawmaker proposes ban on orcas in captivity
SeaWorld just got busted by a US government agency for violating the Animal Welfare Act — and we may have a rare chance to end its animal cruelty for good.
SeaWorld imprisons orca whales in tiny, cage-like tanks — and the USDA citation reveals conditions at the park are dangerous to the animals’ health. SeaWorld is still defending its barbaric practices, but pressure is building on the company.
In a surprise move, a Californian assemblymember has just introduced a law to make it illegal to keep orcas in captivity. This could change everything — but SeaWorld is already mounting a vicious campaign to defeat this brave move.
Join me to tell the State of California that the public won’t accept SeaWorld’s imprisonment of orcas any longer: http://act.sumofus.
The life of Tilikum, a killer whale at Sea World, is exposed in this new CNN movie. SeaWorld spokespersons responded with an opposing opinion because the movie reveals how SeaWorld takes advantage of killer whales, a species of dolphin, by using the excuse of rescue to make money with them.
CNN has recently aired Blackfish, a documentary about the controversy surrounding killer whales in captivity. The airing of this documentary boosted ratings for CNN past its competitors, and sparked a conversation about the ethics, practices, and consequences of keeping killer whales captive.
Blackfish examines the plight of killer whales, also known as orcas or the blackfish, who are kept in captivity. The film focuses on Tilikum, a killer whale who was captured in 1983 and has since been in long-term captivity. Tilikum has been involved in the deaths of three people at marine animal parks. The most recent death occurred in 2010, when Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld. The killer whale dragged her into the water and killed her in front of an audience of patrons. An autopsy later revealed that her spinal cord was severed and she had sustained multiple fractures. This event, among others, prompted the question of whether this was a normal action of orca whales, or whether aggressive acts were resulting from an improper life in captivity.
Blackfish has stirred responses from experts and activists on this debate. Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer and current activist against marine animal captivity, points out that no record exists of killer whale attacks on humans in the wild. On the contrary, one can easily locate and view killer whale videos, which display threatening behavior toward humans. O’Barry suggests that captivity has caused killer whales to become mentally unstable and aggressive. Supporting this claim is neuroscientist Dr. Lori Marino, who speaks in Blackfish about the negative emotional and psychological consequences for orcas housed in long-term captivity.
While Blackfish included testimony from various experts, including former SeaWorld trainers, SeaWorld itself declined all interview requests. However, Fred Jacobs, a spokesperson for the company, recently provided written answers in response to issues brought to light in Black fish. Jacobs argued that Sea World provides many benefits to both marine animals and patrons, including species conservation, improved quality of life for the animals, and improved research. He also offers that as a result of visiting SeaWorld, patrons acquire education, improved awareness, and a higher understanding of the animals.
The orca whale facts that experts and activists have gathered point to an alternative to the man-made pens at marine animal parks. Netted-off pens in the ocean would offer a natural, but protected, environment for killer whales to live in, while still offering the ability for patrons to view them. Jacobs countered this suggestion, simply stating that such pens are not appropriate for long-term care, without offering any supporting data or killer whale facts to support his conclusion.
Blackfish highlights serious problems that exist with keeping killer whales in an environment that is not natural to them. As exemplified by the tragedy involving Tilikum and Dawn Brancheau, there needs to exist a greater understanding of the emotional and psychological effects that marine animal parks, zoos, and oceanariums cause to the animals they house. On the other hand, these facilities may be positively contributing to the welfare of these animals more than negatively impacting them. Blackfish provides a great starting point for this discussion, and unveils a side to places like SeaWorld that we may not have previously known to exist.
Consult your TV Guide for times to watch Blackfish documentary on CNN.
Killer Whales don’t do well in Captivity:
7 Reasons They Should Be Free
1) Accelerated Mortality
Killer whales in captivity die far more frequently than their cousins in the ocean.
Kandu bleeds to death after an altercation with another female severs a major artery at SeaWorld San Diego on August 21, 1989.
2) Shamu’s Secret Medicine Chest
Killer whales are given prescription medications by their trainers every day at SeaWorld. Orcas and dolphins are fed dead, frozen, and thawed fish deprived them of nutrients and fresh water, which had to be replaced by artificial ones.
3) Death by Mosquito
Killer whales in captivity sometimes die in bizarre and exotic ways that would never kill them in the wild. Take, for example, tropical diseases spread by mosquito bites. On warm, muggy nights in Orlando, trainers like John Jett would watch in dismay as thick clouds of mosquitos settled on the back of Kanduke, a large male who spent hours on end floating listlessly at the surface.
4) Hollowed Out Lives, Hollowed Out Teeth
Many killer whales in captivity develop serious dental problems—mostly chipped and broken teeth, but also teeth that have been removed or fallen out. Most disturbing are teeth that need to have the pulp drilled out of the center, leaving behind a conical cylinder.
5) Gudrun, the Pregnant Icelandic Orca Died After Her Stillborn Calf…
Knowing that Gudrun, the female orca, was pregnant, SeaWorld authorities found a “creative” way to make money out of her. Since her dorsal fin didn’t bent over or collapsed, she was perfect to pose with tourists for photographs. Gudrun had to pose for the tourists to take pictures for long hours outside of the water. All her weight was on her baby calf who die inside his mom’s womb. Gudrun bleed horribly when the baby was taken out of her body and die 4 days later.
6) Kotar’s Lurid and Sad Saga
Kotar was the youngest and smallest killer whales in captivity when he was taken from the waters off Iceland at one year of age. When SeaWorld Florida acquired a large and moody Pacific male named Kanduke, trouble began between them:. Kotar bit Kanduke’s penis, severely wounding it, which left a four-inch scar. Kanduke was transferred to San Antonio, Texas.
A few years later a gate that Kotar was playing with crashed onto his head, crushing his skull. He quickly bled to death. There are many more deaths of captive whales that humans attacked by them. Facts had shown that killer whales never killed humans when they are free in the oceans.
7) This Doesn’t Happen in the Wild
SeaWorld started a breeding program for killer whales in captivity, based on artificial insemination, to keep its profitable show afloat. A trainer was ask to train male whales on showing his pennis so the trainers will masturbate then and get their semen and freeze to be used on artificial insemination.
The trainer John refused and he was banished from that place and transferred to Sea Lion and Otter Stadium.
What is you opinion? Should whales and dolphins be set free? Or keep them using them for public entertainment and SeaWorld’s inhuman profits?
Leave you thought on the comments box below: