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A Sad Day at Seaworld

February 26th, 2010 by Webmaster

Tillikum preforming at Sea World - Photo Credit : Reuters: Mathieu Belanger

Tillikum preforming at Sea World - Photo Credit : Reuters: Mathieu Belanger

Reporters are calling it a sad day at Seaworld. For the animals, everyday is a sad day at Seaworld. Tillikum, an orca (commonly known as a “Killer Whale”), attacked and killed his trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando on Wednesday. While IDA has the deepest sympathy for the trainer’s family and their tragic loss, the ongoing misery these intelligent, long-lived, socially complex animals cannot be comprehended.

Killer Whales travel long distances each day, sometimes swimming in a straight line for a hundred miles, other times remaining in a certain area for hours or days, moving several miles along a coastline and then turning to retrace their path. These marine mammals can dive up to several hundred meters and stay underwater for up to half an hour. They spend only 10 to 20% of their time at the surface.  In captivity, Killer Whales must spend up to 80% of their time at the surface of the water seeking scraps of food and attention.

This is theprobable cause of the dorsal fin collapse, because without the support of water, gravity pulls these tall appendages over as the whale matures. Collapsed fins are experienced by all captive male orcas and many captive female orcas, who were either captured as juveniles or who were born in captivity.  They have been observed in only about 1% of orcas in the wild.

In captivity, killer whales must swim in circles or constantly peer through the fences (stereotypical behavior) or floating listlessly on the surface of the water. These behaviors indicate that the animal is bored and psychologically stressed. Wild Killer Whales rarely lie still and with the entire ocean at their disposal, they would have no need to swim in circles!

This particular orca, Tilikum, has an especially bad situation.  He is the oldest living captive orca which means he has suffered the most psychologically and physiological stress of all. The park plans to adjust the protocol with which to handle him, and is not ruling out using him in shows and will continue to use him as a stud.

A 12,000 pound orca should not be in a concrete and chlorine tank coerced to give “kisses” and do tricks.  SeaWorld seems to have no problem exploiting animals by confining them permanently and putting their employees and the public at risk to make money- lots of money.
I do believe that most of the trainers love the animals they manipulate. Somehow the trainers and the aquaria justify what they are doing with words like “conservation” and “education”, but ripping these majestic creatures from the vast oceans, separating them from their families, and forcing them to swim circles till their dorsal fin droops from lack of deep diving is heartless. If only they could wake up to the reality of exploitation as Rick O’Barry, the trainer of the famous dolphin Flipper did. O’Barry has since denounced keeping marine mammals in captivity and has dedicated himself to end the dolphin slaughter in Japan.

When orcas first arrive into the tank, they attempt to use their sonar, but it just bounces off the walls and becomes maddening, so they cease using sonar for communication. It is well known that emotional and psychological factors play a huge part in the behavior of these sentient animals who are able to exhibit cognitive abilities similar to us, humans. It has also been observed that confining such intelligent animals with complex social systems in small spaces leads them to exhibit neurotic behaviors. One can only imagine how the stress of captivity in completely unnatural surroundings compounded by the abnormal demands from training and performance could lead to tragic results.

It’s time to put a stop to snatching such majestic animals from the wild for unnecessary exhibitionism. It’s time to honor their undeniable right to freedom and end the breeding of such animals in captivity for the animal’s well-being , as well as for our own human safety.

Please click here to send an e-mail to Hamilton James, the President of The Blackstone Group, which operates SeaWorld. Urge SeaWorld to get out of the cruel business of keeping marine mammals in captivity.

11 Responses to “A Sad Day at Seaworld”

  1. June 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm, Penny said:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I once thought that seeing these creatures in captivity was so great because of the tricks that they did. BUT, unfortunately, everyone knows that these creatures that are in the zoos, parks, etc. CANNOT be returned to the wild because they’ve spent too much time being fed and sheltered, especially if they were born in captivity. For entertainment purposes, I believe that even zoos are inhumane, but as far as education is concerned–couldn’t we just observe these creatures in their natural habitat? We have the means to (specialized cameras, funding, etc.).

  2. April 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm, Joanne said:

    They may be looking at the bottom line profit but never in my lifetime will they see my money as a tourist. I will boycott all their parks as it is so much nicer to sea these animals where they belong behaving in a natural manner in all their beauty. It is much kinder to see a happy animal living in the wild rather than one forced to live in a tank that eventually leads to psychological and physical harm.

  3. March 05, 2010 at 4:57 pm, Hope said:

    Leslie- I was raised in Pompano Beach and we went to the Miami Seaquriam all the time. I loved the dolphins, and when I was young, I saw nothing wrong with keeping them in captivity. But as I became older and educated myself about the very sad, short lives these animals live in tiny, chlorinated swimming pools, I changed my mind about it. I now feel that my entertainment and enjoyment is not worth the horrible expense of ripping a marine mammal from it’s family and freedom to entertain me. For these majestic creatures, these parks are like being in a toxic (chlorine and other chemicals) jail and gagged, unable to speak (they can not use their sonar) for a life that ends prematurely of what their usual lifespan is in the wild. It’s quite shocking how often and early these animals die for the amount of veterinary care and observation they receive. I now live in California and have gone on whale watching tours off the coast, and to see marine mammals in their natural habitat is so much more satisfying, educational and enjoyable than the sea parks.

  4. March 01, 2010 at 12:47 pm, Lene M Blaabjerg said:

    Nope… Sadly we are a race consisting of wannasees – what can we make the other ones do for food and stuff?! See an accident – stop and film it on your camera, see a beating – dont stop it, is not your problem, but stay to watch, hear of children in need – its probably them being naughty, and so on… the list goes on. Being alround for so many years havent changed a thing, we are ruled by our most basic needs, food, sex and power.
    I am so sorry to say.
    Lene.

  5. March 01, 2010 at 12:27 pm, Leslie said:

    I’m a native of Orlando and have been to Sea World many times. I live in another city now, but one of our summer vacation destinations is Sea World. We are not changing those plans because of what happened.
    There most certainly IS a redeeming “educational” value, although I’ll give you the “conservation” value. I am thinking of all the animals there, not just the orcas. How many times have any of yoy been to Sea World or something similar, huh?

    • March 06, 2010 at 4:41 pm, Carla said:

      I would like to know what the “redeeming educational” value is in these shows? These animals are not acting like normal orcas so you’re certainly not learning anything about normal orca behavior. And what are we teaching kids? That it’s okay to imprison one of the great ocean predators who swims up to 100 miles per day in the open seas and make them spend the rest of their lives doing stupid, unnatural tricks for us? How “educational”! Not!

      Face it! You’re just another selfish tourist who doesn’t give a rat’s behind about what this confinement does to them. You just want to see that show by God! And to Hell with them! Nice!

  6. March 01, 2010 at 12:08 pm, keka said:

    not to mention what the effect of living in chlorinated (toxic) water has on these creatures who undoubtedly require sea water for health… it’s all tragically sad :(

  7. February 28, 2010 at 7:22 pm, Dixie Reveron said:

    You gotta expect this to happen eventually, they are called KILLER whales for a reason!

  8. February 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm, Nancy said:

    Orcas are great ocean predators who swim up to 100 miles per day in the open sea. There is no redeeming “educational” or “conservation” value in confining them to chlorinated swimming pools where they are forced to perform silly tricks for audiences, These performances show a complete disrespect for their species. I am surprised that more of these tragedies haven’t occurred given the constant stress these animals must endure.

    Theme parks such as SeaWorld are driven completely by profit motives. As long as they are allowed to do so, they will continue to imprison wild orcas. This isn’t ancient Rome. Surely we should have evolved more than this in the last 2,000 years.

    • March 01, 2010 at 12:05 pm, Susan said:

      Amen!

  9. February 27, 2010 at 8:28 pm, Dino Dogan said:

    SeaWorld had issued contradictory reports on the Whale murder… muddy waters are benefiting the owners of the Sea World…divide opinions, put out inconsistent information, confuse and thrive…just another day at the office Im afraid.

    I am sure that SeaWorld has put bottom line before the well being of the whale, humans, trainers and anyone else who stood in the way of making profits.

    The root of the problem is deeper Im afraid. I’ve written about it on my blog if anyone cares to comment …