Is SeaWorld bad? Compassionate people everywhere want to see animals treated humanely, and they have questions about places like SeaWorld. These days, the public has concerns about the complex needs of intelligent marine mammals—like orcas and other dolphins—and hates to see animals suffering in cramped tanks.
SeaWorld has worked hard to create the illusion of being a “conservation” organization that cares for happy, healthy marine animals. But years of hard-hitting PETA campaigns and the eye-opening documentary Blackfish have exposed the marine park chain’s lies.
So, is SeaWorld bad? Check out these shocking facts about the cruelty of marine parks to discover the truth:
What Is SeaWorld? What Do Animals Endure There?
SeaWorld is an entertainment company that puts animals in cramped concrete tanks at its marine parks across the country. It builds its business on the suffering of smart and social animals.
Consider these facts:
- SeaWorld often keeps dolphins, whales, and other animals trapped with incompatible tankmates. The tension leads to fights and even fatal injuries.
- Staff members drug some animals to try to relieve their endless frustration.
- Orcas at SeaWorld parks often break their teeth from chewing on the metal bars and concrete walls of their tanks.
Where Is SeaWorld? Take Note: Never Vacation Here
There are three SeaWorld parks in the U.S.
California: SeaWorld San Diego
Florida: SeaWorld Orlando
Texas: SeaWorld San Antonio
A former location, SeaWorld Ohio, closed in 2000. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in 2022.
Buying SeaWorld tickets funds animal suffering. You can help stop it: Never visit SeaWorld or any other marine park. After you finish reading this post, be sure to tell your friends and family why they should stay away, too.
Is SeaWorld Bad or Good? Don’t Buy the ‘Humane Washing’
No two ways around it—SeaWorld is bad.
Among other horrors, here are just a few things that it’s done to animals:
- Employees drill out the inside of orcas’ worn and broken teeth. Often, they use no painkillers. This drilling keeps the animals’ teeth from becoming infected, but it does nothing to relieve the stress of being held in inadequate enclosures.
- SeaWorld trainers masturbated male orcas to collect sperm. The marine park company still does this to other dolphins today. Female animals are sexually abused and forcibly impregnated, and they’re often drugged to prevent them from resisting.
- SeaWorld still offers touch tanks and other animal “encounters,” falsely teaching kids that it’s OK to handle wildlife against their will.
- In late 2018, a PETA veterinarian observed dolphins at all three SeaWorld parks. She found animals with open wounds and extensive scarring on their faces and bodies.
- According to a scathing article from The Travel, SeaWorld forces every employee to participate in its conspiracy to conceal its cruelty from the public.
How Many Orcas Have Died at SeaWorld?
More than 40 orcas have died at SeaWorld parks, and the death toll continues to climb. Here’s just one story:
- An orca named Kasatka was imprisoned in a SeaWorld tank for nearly 40 years. Men abducted her from her ocean home when she was only a year old. She died in August 2017, after reportedly having suffered from a bacterial lung infection since at least 2008. Lesions covered her ailing body before her death. In addition, her mate, Kotar, was killed after a pool gate closed on his head, fracturing his skull.
Have Other Animals Died at SeaWorld?
Orcas aren’t the only animals suffering at SeaWorld.
- A blind walrus named Obie spent his life trapped in a cramped tank at SeaWorld San Diego. He appeared to suffer from deep psychological distress, as he would press his mouth against the tank’s glass and repeatedly regurgitate and re-swallow his food. This is a common neurotic behavior among captive animals, and it can cause serious health problems. In June 2015, after 18 years of living in a tank, Obie died. Approximately 400 pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses) have died at SeaWorld parks.
- More than 60 bottlenose dolphins—including 16 stillborn babies—died at SeaWorld parks in just 10 years. Captive dolphins routinely die prematurely of infectious diseases at marine parks. More than 300 dolphins and whales have died on SeaWorld’s watch.
- SeaWorld abducted a beluga whale named Nanuq from his home waters at the age of 6. He was used for artificial insemination. Workers removed him from the water about 42 times, and then they collected his sperm. Six of his babies died at birth or shortly thereafter. After an interaction with another animal shattered his jaw, Nanuq died.
How Many Workers Have Died at Marine Parks Like SeaWorld?
Orca aggression toward humans is nearly nonexistent in nature, but the constant stress of living in captivity causes them to lash out.
SeaWorld’s incomplete incident log, as of 2011, documented more than 100 incidents of orca aggression at its parks. These attacks often resulted in injuries to humans. Here are a few incidents:
- On February 21, 1991, Sealand of the Pacific trainer Keltie Byrne fell into a pool containing three orcas. One of them, Tilikum, pulled her to the bottom of the tank, and she ultimately drowned. It took Sealand employees two hours to recover her body from the orcas. She was the first of three humans who were killed because of Tilikum’s frustration and confinement. All three orcas held at Sealand of the Pacific were later sold to SeaWorld.
- Years of stressful captivity caused Tilikum to exhibit further aggression toward humans, which ultimately cost two more lives. He killed Daniel P. Dukes in 1999 and Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Tilikum scalped and dismembered Dawn, breaking bones throughout her body before drowning her.
- In 2006, SeaWorld flew an orca named Keto and three other orca calves halfway around the world, from San Diego to Loro Parque in Spain’s Canary Islands. A SeaWorld senior trainer reportedly supervised the training session when Keto killed trainer Alexis Martinez in 2009. Since then, SeaWorld has tried to distance itself from Loro Parque, ultimately transferring ownership of the four orcas to the Spanish facility.
What Happened to SeaWorld After Blackfish?
Blackfish is a game-changing 2013 documentary that exposed some of SeaWorld’s most shocking abuse.
- After the film’s release, SeaWorld lost many corporate sponsors. Scores of famous musicians canceled scheduled performances at SeaWorld parks.
- As part of an aggressive response to criticism, the company even sent a spy to PETA protests in order to incite illegal activity.
- In 2018, SeaWorld and its former CEO agreed to pay $5 million to settle charges that the company misled investors about the negative impact that Blackfish was having on its business.
- After 33 years in captivity, Tilikum, the “killer whale” star subject of Blackfish, died in a SeaWorld tank.
What Is Shamu’s Story? What Happened to Her?
In 1965, an orca named Shamu performed in the first-ever orca show at SeaWorld.
- She was kidnapped from her mother in the open ocean.
- During Shamu’s capture, men shot her mother with a harpoon. They killed her right in front of Shamu.
- Shamu died six years later in captivity.
- SeaWorld continued to name other orcas Shamu for years to come.
More Shocking Facts About SeaWorld: Things You Didn’t Know About Marine Park Cruelty
- The company abducted some of the orcas it still imprisons today from their homes in the ocean.
- Workers at SeaWorld facilities have to cover the skin of sunburned orcas with black zinc oxide to hide burns and blisters from the public. With nowhere deep to dive, many animals trapped at SeaWorld can’t escape the hot rays of the sun.
- In 2017, SeaWorld separated two bonded polar bears—Szenja and Snowflake—after they’d spent 20 years together, leaving Szenja without any other members of her species to interact with. She died two months later—likely from a broken heart.
- It may be surprising, but SeaWorld trainers often have no formal background in marine biology, because the main purpose of the parks is to entertain and put on a “good show” for visitors. Informing people about the natural lives, foraging behavior, and habitats of the animals held prisoner there is not the parks’ primary concern.
You Can Help Animals Trapped at SeaWorld Today
The question isn’t “is SeaWorld Bad?” It’s “just how bad is SeaWorld?”
SeaWorld has received hundreds of thousands of calls from compassionate people to modernize its parks, stop using animals for entertainment, and move those held in tanks to seaside sanctuaries. However, it hasn’t listened.
The good news is that you can help animals at SeaWorld right now, and it doesn’t matter where you are. You can take action for orcas, other dolphins, and all animals held in marine parks using your phone or computer. What are you waiting for? Get started below: