Dr. Christopher M. Dold, the vice president of veterinary services at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, could be in hot water for making an apparently false and deceptive statement about the health of animals at SeaWorld. In a Florida Today guest column, Dodd wrote: “I can unequivocally state that our whales, along with every other animal in our parks, are thriving, both mentally and physically.”
This claim is ludicrous and is also an apparent violation of Florida’s veterinary medical practice regulations, which prohibit veterinarians from making false and misleading statements in relation to the advertising and practicing of veterinary medicine. PETA has filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and is asking officials to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action against Dr. Dold.
As Dr. Heather Rally, a veterinarian who has experience working with marine mammals, pointed out when she visited SeaWorld San Diego, orcas, dolphins, walruses, and other animals are suffering—not thriving—at SeaWorld. Other expert observations and SeaWorld’s own records prove that being kept in a virtual bathtub at SeaWorld is physically and psychologically devastating to orcas and other animals, many of whom have persistent health problems and/or have been seen displaying abnormal, neurotic, and aggressive behavior.
Orca calves are torn away from their mothers in captivity, although in their natural ocean home, mothers and calves would stay together for many years and often for life. The orcas at SeaWorld parks are given psychotropic drugs to try to reduce the aggression caused by captivity so the frustrated animals can be confined together. Dolphins have been spotted at SeaWorld with open wounds on their lower jaws, likely caused by unsafe enclosures. Some dolphins have been forced to perform with potentially serious skin conditions that indicate depressed immune systems.
SeaWorld’s own records—and Dold himself—have documented some of these problems, proving that Dold’s assessment of the animals as “thriving” is patently false.