It’s a Halloween custom: Set up a graveyard on the lawn and watch the trick-or-treaters hesitate for a split second before they put in a request for (vegan) candy.
SeaWorld is like a graveyard, too, but there’s nothing festive about it. The abusement park is haunted by the ghosts of nearly 40 orcas who have died prematurely on its watch.
That’s why PETA set up graveyards with 38 tombstones—one each for Splash, Kalina, Sumar, and every other orca whose life was stolen—outside the San Antonio, Texas, park on Tuesday and, two days later, near the entrance to SeaWorld’s Orlando, Florida, park.
The graveyards, featuring signs reading, “A Nightmare on SeaWorld Drive” and “SeaWorld Kills: Real-Life Horror,” are a reminder that the victims of this year-round horror show are real and that we should all have grave second thoughts about supporting their abuse.
Orcas are intelligent, social animals who travel in pods with their families and swim up to 100 miles a day in the ocean. At SeaWorld, they’re confined to sterile concrete tanks that are the human equivalent of bathtubs. Instead of socializing and swimming where they want, they can’t do anything but float or swim listlessly in circles.
The stress of captivity often takes a high psychological and physical toll. Orcas at SeaWorld have broken their teeth gnawing on the walls of their tanks and have attacked other orcas.
Stress can also weaken their immune systems, making them prone to disease. Unna, the 38th orca to die at SeaWorld, suffered from a fungal infection. She was taken from her mother just before her sixth birthday, was impregnated at age 8, and gave birth to a stillborn calf. Despondent and unable to engage in her natural behavior, she injured her face picking at the paint on the floor of SeaWorld’s show pool.
She was only 18 when she died last year. Orcas in the ocean have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years.
What You Can Do
SeaWorld’s profits and attendance are plunging because caring people have had enough. Keep hitting SeaWorld where it hurts—in the wallet—until the orcas it’s holding are sent to sanctuaries. We also have some tips to sink SeaWorld online.