Orcas that were at SeaWorld before 1972 were likely kidnapped from their ocean homes. For example, Tilikum, a 32-year-old orca, was captured at the age of 2 by a marine "cowboy." Tilikum wasn't taken from his natural environment because he was injured—instead, he was torn away from his family against his will and confined to a small concrete tank for a hefty profit.
A scientific study by Newcastle University found that dolphins in close proximity to humans experience extreme stress, "preventing them from resting, feeding or nurturing their young." Despite these findings, SeaWorld continues to allow park guests to swim and touch dolphins at its Discovery Cove location in Orlando, Florida.
In 1965, the first-ever orca show was performed by a female orca named Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego. Shamu, like Tilikum, was kidnapped before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted in1972—during Shamu's capture, her mother was shot with a harpoon and killed before the young orca's very eyes by a marine "cowboy" named Ted Griffin. Griffin's partner, Don Goldsberry, later worked for SeaWorld and was assigned to bring orcas into the park. He continued slaughtering orcas, and at one point, he hired divers to slit open the bellies of four orcas, fill them with rocks, put anchors around their tails, and sink them to the bottom of the ocean so that their deaths would not be discovered.
In nature, orcas choose their own mates. But at SeaWorld, orcas are forced to breed on a regular basis. Male orcas are trained to float on their backs, and their trainers masturbate them to collect their sperm. Females are artificially inseminated and forced to breed at a much younger age than they would in nature. Katina was forced to breed when she was only 9 years old (at least five years earlier than she would have naturally bred in the wild). Now she is used as a virtual breeding machine and is even being inbred with her own sons.
SeaWorld's corporate incident log contains reports of more than 100 incidents of orca aggression at its parks, often resulting in injuries to humans and even causing one death by extensive internal bleeding.
Orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years—their estimated maximum life span is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to 90 for females. The median age of orcas in captivity is only 9.
In captivity, all male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins as adults, which is a sign of an unhealthy orca. SeaWorld claims that this condition is common and natural for all orcas. However, collapsed dorsal fins are caused by the unnatural environment of captivity and are rarely seen in the wild. Only 1 to 5 percent of male orcas in some populations (and none in others) have fully collapsed dorsal fins.
SeaWorld has a long history of pressuring authorities. Following a 2006 attack by an orca on a trainer at SeaWorld in San Diego, the California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded that it was "only a matter of time" before someone was killed while interacting with the orcas. However, the agency withdrew these findings after being pressured by SeaWorld. A further investigation into these attacks could have prevented injuries and deaths.
On January 11, the USDA issued an official warning to SeaWorld San Antonio for its "repeated failure to provide drain covers that are securely fastened in order to minimize the potential risk of animal entrapment"—a violation that resulted in the death of a sea lion.
SeaWorld confines whales and dolphins—who often swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild—to tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub.
SeaWorld presents itself as a family establishment full of fun activities. However, these "fun activities" harm animals physically and emotionally. Please say NO to SeaWorld and its enslavement of animals by refusing to buy a ticket and asking the marine park to release these animals to sanctuaries.
Background Image Clockwise from Top Left:
Dolphin on left: ©2012 JupiterImages.com, Dolphin bottom right: ©iStockphoto.com/skynesher, Turtle on left: ©iStockphoto.com/richcarey, Net: ©iStockphoto.com/DJClaassen
Other Photos on Page
Kidnapped Silhouette Image: ©2012 JupiterImages.com, No Diving graphic: ©iStockphoto.com/4x6, nickylaatz, Whaling: ©iStockphoto.com/gormvester, Drowning: ©iStockphoto.com/sdourado, Caution: ©iStockphoto.com/Bliznetsov, Help Orcas Illustration: ©iStockphoto.com/XonkArts