Who Is Kshamenk?
Kshamenk is a male orca who was seized from his family in his ocean home and is being held in a cramped tank at Mundo Marino, a marine park in Argentina.
Kshamenk is thought to have been around 4 years old when he was captured in 1992, and he has been without the company of any other orcas since 2000, when Belén, the female orca with whom he was held, died. This means he’s now spent 29 years trapped in a small tank.
Many speculate that boats were deliberately used to strand Kshamenk and other members of his pod so that they could be taken into captivity under the guise of rehabilitation. Unsurprisingly, they were never released back into the sea but were kept as living toys.
Mundo Marino continues to profit from Kshamenk’s misery.
Look Inside Mundo Marino.
While Argentina’s Mundo Marino is unknown to most Americans, there is one company that’s intimately familiar with the South American marine amusement park: SeaWorld.
Although SeaWorld ended its cruel orca-breeding program, not so long ago, according to former orca trainer turned author John Hargrove, SeaWorld sent staff to Argentina to train Mundo Marino’s lone orca to allow humans to collect his semen.
SeaWorld then reportedly used that semen to inseminate at least two of the females held captive at its parks in the U.S.
Kshamenk’s Suffering at Mundo Marino
“It’s Kshamenk’s semen that I used on Takara in July 2011 to get her pregnant. She lost that calf in March (2012), and all they did was wait for three months and then they re-artificially inseminated her again,”
–John Hargrove, former SeaWorld trainer
Kshamenk, like all captive adult male orcas, has a collapsed dorsal fin, a condition that is extremely rare in the wild and is a sign of stress or ill health. Being confined to the woefully small tanks in which he is imprisoned has taken a massive toll on him. Video footage taken inside Mundo Marino shows him exhibiting a troubling behavior known as “logging”:
Deprived of mental stimulation, Kshamenk can often be seen floating lifelessly for minutes at a time on the surface of the water in the shallow, minuscule holding tanks at Mundo Marino—as if he has given up all hope. And why wouldn’t he have?
Kshamenk’s genetic material was shipped to the United States to fuel SeaWorld’s now-defunct orca breeding mill. To produce as many animals as quickly as it could, SeaWorld impregnated some of its female orcas before they had reached full sexual maturity. This means that many of the young mothers, also deprived of the rich family structure of a wild pod, never learned to care properly for their own babies, creating a cycle of misery. The range of problems with SeaWorld’s breeding program remains shocking: Among many other issues, stillbirths were common, and females who had recently given birth were impregnated again before their bodies had appropriate time to recover from the first birth.
In the following video, you’ll see Hargrove highlight just some of the unethical practices that went on behind the scenes at SeaWorld parks:
Kshamenk’s story isn’t the only sad tale to come out of Mundo Marino.
Visitors to the park sent video footage to PETA that showed sea lions who languished in distressing conditions at the horrendous facility.
The sea lion enclosure offered no reliable source of shade that the animals could use to escape the sun. The sea lions’ cloudy eyes bear the blue tint of cataracts, and they must look directly up into the blazing sunlight to beg for food. Captive pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses) like these often suffer from poor eye health in marine parks, and at Mundo Marino, you can see the evidence.
PETA Foundation veterinarian Heather Rally reviewed the images taken of the sea lions at Mundo Marino and noticed that several animals had visible areas of alopecia areata (fur loss), which she believes is likely the result of repetitive rubbing of their skin against hard surfaces. These hairless patches suggest that the animals may be engaging in stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behavior, which indicates that they are stressed. This type of behavior is also known as “zoochosis.” In effect, animals are so frustrated by their captivity that they begin to perform the same motions over and over again, not even pausing once they’ve begun to harm themselves.
In addition, says Dr. Rally, the park visitors were allowed to get so close to the sea lions that it presented a real danger of serious injury to both animals and humans.
The reality is that a tiny chemically treated tank will never be a sufficient substitute for the open ocean.
Deprived of the rich social lives they’d have in nature, the physical and mental suffering of captive marine animals is evident in places like Mundo Marino and at SeaWorld’s parks in the U.S.
Never support companies that profit from the confinement of cetaceans, pinnipeds, or any other animals.
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