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SeaWorld’s “data release” is the latest public relations stunt in the image-recovery campaign that the theme-park operator has been waging since Blackfish exposed its abuse of animals and sent ticket sales into a tailspin. It’s a move that the company claims could help wild marine mammals. But like nearly everything that SeaWorld does relating to animals, there are problems with it.

SeaWorld is releasing information that it gathered during blood draws from captive orcas—but only some of it. It’s withholding all the data on sick orcas. And sick orcas are something SeaWorld knows well, as 42 of them have died on its watch.

If the cash-strapped theme park truly wanted to “guide how and whether scientists intervene to help sick or stranded whales in the wild,” shouldn’t it provide information on orcas who have contracted diseases as well as about any treatments that the orcas received and how they did or didn’t respond to them?

As PETA explained in a statement released to the media:

“If SeaWorld actually wanted to help sick orcas in the wild, it would release data concerning sick orcas in its tanks. Instead, PETA has been forced to file a lawsuit in an attempt to obtain the necropsy reports of wild-caught orcas who died in SeaWorld’s theme parks. The company’s interest is in optics, not transparency.”

Of course, the value of SeaWorld’s “research” has often been called into question. And the company has proved that it will misrepresent the facts to trick the public. It’s also unclear how much benefit data on orcas who are trapped in cramped, chemical-filled tanks could have for free, far-ranging pods in nature.

Another thing that SeaWorld isn’t mentioning is how the Southern Resident orcas of the Pacific Northwest came to be on the verge of extinction. And that’s because the parks had a large hand in it.

© Dr. Newby

In 1965, hunters captured a young member from this group—after harpooning and killing her mother—and SeaWorld named her Shamu. This kicked off a decade of captures and killings of orcas in U.S. waters, until 1976, when SeaWorld was chased out of Washington state after the captors dropped explosives from airplanes into the ocean. The Southern Resident orca population was reduced by more than 30% and has never recovered.

And then there’s this: One of the authors of the SeaWorld data release, Todd Robeck, is also its lead dolphin and whale rapist. He has long overseen the company’s masturbation of dolphins and whales to collect their semen and its forced insemination of female animals to produce more babies in order to attract visitors, a practice widely condemned by marine-mammal scientists.


This “data release” is PR flimflam meant to justify SeaWorld’s actions: confining animals to watery cages for fleeting human amusement, forcibly impregnating them and then separating mothers and babies, robbing them of everything that’s natural and important to them, and often causing them to die far short of their natural life expectancies. But no justification is sufficient.

Help remind people that SeaWorld is the same old abusement park that it has always been. Share this story on social media with the hashtag #BoycottSeaWorld.

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