1. Premature Deaths
Orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years—their estimated maximum lifespan is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to over 100 for females. The median age of orcas in captivity is only 9, and orcas at SeaWorld rarely make it even to the average life expectancy of their wild cousins.
2. Lean, Mean Killing Machines—or Not?
In the wild, despite centuries of sharing the ocean, there has been only a single reliable report of an orca harming a human being. Because of the stress involved in being deprived of everything that is natural and important to orcas in captivity, orcas have attacked and killed three humans just since 1991 and many others have been injured.
3. Collapsed Dorsal Fins
All captive adult male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins, likely because they have no space in which to swim freely and are fed an unnatural diet of thawed dead fish. SeaWorld claims that this condition is common—however, in the wild, it rarely ever happens and is a sign of an injured or unhealthy orca.
SeaWorld confines orcas, who could swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild, to tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. They would need to swim 1,208 laps (around the perimeter of the tank) or 3,105 lengths (back and forth at the longest part of the tank) in the park’s largest tank to equal what they’d swim in the wild.
Orcas who are not compatible are forced to live in tight quarters together. The resulting anxiety and tension cause fights between orcas. In the wild, orcas have strong social bonds that may last for life, their social rules prohibit serious violence against each other, and when fights do occur, they can find space to flee. In captivity, there’s nowhere for them to go, which leads to injuries and death.
6. Diet of Pig and Cow Bones
In captivity, orcas are unable to hunt and obtain water from their prey, so SeaWorld gives them gelatin, a substance that is not natural for them, in an attempt to keep them hydrated. Tilikum, who weighs 12,000 lbs., alone consumes 83 pounds of gelatin every day.
7. Breaking Their Teeth to Get Out
Orcas in captivity gnaw at iron bars and concrete from stress, anxiety, and boredom, sometimes breaking their teeth and resulting in painful dental drilling without anesthesia.
8. Family Matters
Orcas are highly social animals who live in stable social groups ranging from two to 15 individuals. In some populations, children stay with their mothers for life. In captivity, orcas are forced to live with orcas from other family units who speak a completely different language than they do and are constantly moved between facilities for breeding and to perform.
Orcas suffer mentally and physically just to line SeaWorld’s pockets. You can help them! The momentum is on our side with the release of Blackfish and our recent lawsuit against SeaWorld. Join the fight to help orcas, and tell all your friends never to go to SeaWorld.