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Blind, alone, and driven insane—this was the life of 28-year-old Obie the walrus, who suffered for nearly two decades as a slave in captivity at SeaWorld San Diego. In June 2015, he died without having had the freedom to swim outside the scummy tank he was forced to inhabit for 18 years. This was his everyday reality.


Obie was brought to San Diego in 1997, where he lived as a prisoner for entertainment, and SeaWorld only valued his existence insofar as he helped sell admission tickets. He spent his days confined to a tiny tank that was covered with a thin layer of green algae.


Obie was driven insane by his artificial habitat. He commonly displayed psychological distress by pressing his mouth against the glass and repeatedly regurgitating and swallowing his food. Neurotic behavior like this, which is symptomatic of “zoochosis,” is common in captive wild animals and can lead to severe health problems. During an eyewitness investigation of SeaWorld, actor Alfonso Herrera, alongside PETA Latino, observed another walrus exhibiting similar neurotic behavior.

Like many captive pinnipeds (fin-footed mammals such as seals and sea lions), Obie suffered from blindness. Ocular damage is common in imprisoned pinnipeds, as tanks rarely allow for much shade from the harsh sun. Animals are often forced to look directly up into the sunlight in order to beg for or catch food. Most likely, Obie experienced chronic irritation of the mucous membranes of his eyes. He held both eyelids closed 90 percent of the time.


In the wild, walruses are highly social beings and congregate in large numbers. Inside SeaWorld San Diego, Obie had minimal contact with other living beings, except for the apathetic people who fed him and the tourists who stared at him through the glass. He did not have a community—he had a prison.

Obie may finally be free from a lonely, demeaning life, but many animals just like him are still locked away and suffering constantly just as he did for nearly two decades. SeaWorld San Diego still holds a walrus named Seahook captive inside its walls. She’s now all alone to endure the same dirty and degrading fate.

SeaWorld built a business on the suffering of intelligent, social animals who are denied everything that is natural and important to them. As a result, animals imprisoned by the abusement park often die prematurely from stress and other captivity-related causes. Walruses in the wild can live up to 40 years, but Obie died 12 years short of that, after 18 years living inside a cramped and murky tank.

What You Can Do

If you are moved by Obie’s story, never support companies that profit from the confinement of pinnipeds like him or any other species. For all living beings held in captivity, life is dull and miserable, and it can damage both their physical and mental health. All animals deserve better.

Share this post with your friends, family, and social media followers today. Ask them never to support the cruelty of marine parks.

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