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Find out eight reasons why orcas don’t belong at SeaWorld and discover what you can do to help these animals!

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 90 for females. The average age of death for orcas who have died at SeaWorld is 14 years old.

An orca floating listlessly in a tank

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 four 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, spend long periods of time floating listlessly at the surface of the water, 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.

4. Tanks

SeaWorld confines orcas, who could swim up to 140 miles a day in the wild, to tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. It would take an orca more than 4,280 laps in her tank to swim the distance she might in the wild.

Orcas with collapsed dorsal fins at SeaWorld

5. Fights

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.

Nakai was injured on a sharp metal edge in his tank while reportedly fleeing from an aggressive altercation with two other orcas.© Ingrid N. Visser, Ph.D.
Nakai was reportedly injured on a sharp metal edge in his tank while fleeing from an aggressive altercation with two other orcas.

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 weighed 12,000 lbs., alone consumed 83 pounds of gelatin every day.

orca being fed at SeaWorld OrlandoJo-Anne MacArthur/We Animals Media

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.
orca with tooth problems

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.

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.


Learn more about cruelty at SeaWorld on The PETA Podcast:

Listen to more episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify! Subscribe for new episodes.


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