Ripley, believe it or not, is a 25-year-old dolphin who’s still trapped at SeaWorld San Antonio—and who’s been a prisoner of SeaWorld for her entire life.
Ripley was born at SeaWorld’s park in Texas in 1996. Since then, she has been shipped across the country four times—first from SeaWorld San Antonio to Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida; then to SeaWorld Orlando; then to SeaWorld San Diego; and then eventually back to SeaWorld San Antonio. Imagine being shipped like a parcel from Texas to Florida to California to Texas. Ripley was impregnated twice—in 2011 and 2012—both times ending in miscarriage. If her offspring had survived, they, too, would have spent their entire lives in small, barren tanks, forced to do meaningless tricks for a reward of dead fish.
SeaWorld has made it clear that Ripley’s well-being is not a priority. It cares primarily about the cash it can make from exploiting her—and if it could have made money from exploiting her babies, too, it would have. In their ocean homes, dolphins build meaningful relationships with their families and pods, have complex conversations with them, choose their own partners, raise their young, and swim up to 60 miles a day in huge expanses of ocean. At SeaWorld, they’re used as stage props, impregnated against their will, and forced to live in tanks like this one:
SeaWorld still forcibly inseminates female dolphins, sometimes after drugging them, by removing them from the water and shoving tools into their vaginas and uteruses. Ripley is just one of many dolphins who’s been used by SeaWorld. Lily was captured in her ocean home in 1983 and imprisoned at SeaWorld, where she gave birth to six babies. Her first baby died the day after she was born, from trauma sustained after being thrown out of the pool by another frustrated dolphin. Lily’s next calf died at only 16 days old. She then gave birth to three more babies. Her last baby, Lagos, died of pneumonia and sepsis. In 2017, Lily was euthanized as a result of illness. Between the age of 7 and her death at roughly 29 years old, Puka—born at SeaWorld San Diego in 1982—gave birth to nine calves in captivity, five of whom are dead now.
SeaWorld has always forced dolphins to perform ridiculous tricks in its cruel shows, used them for breeding so that it could exploit their babies, and shipped them across the country to wherever they could rake in the most money.
Ripley is still languishing at SeaWorld—along with hundreds of other dolphins and whales trapped at parks around the country by one of the greediest businesses in the world.