A World not meant to be lived in: SeaWorld

Imagine living in a large bathtub your whole life. But before that, imagine being taken away from everything you know. Imagine being locked in with ten other people not knowing a single thing about them. Welcome to an Orca’s life in captivity at SeaWorld. SeaWorld confines whales and dolphins (who often swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild) to tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. Orcas have been one of the main attractions at SeaWorld since 1965. No one big enough seems to oppose the whale’s captivity. Yes, there have been many organizations that have tried to eliminate orca captivity but SeaWorld is much too big to be taken down by tiny organizations. SeaWorld has a money flow like a waterfall and the whales’ health is simply not relevant.

There is simply not enough information about the life-styles that these whales have to put up with. If the public knew about all the health consequences, physical and mental, there would be a riot. SeaWorld covers up all of the damage that happens to the whales, internally and externally. SeaWorld should not keep Killer Whales in captivity. Some would defend SeaWorld and say that the whales are for educational purposes. In that case, they could have ships that go out to sea and teach people about their natural environment. Teaching tricks and flips to whales is just for our entertainment, and the whales should not have to pay the consequences for our enjoyment.

Let’s start at the beginning, whaling boats go out to sea, surround a family of orcas, and pick out the young ones. They tear them away from their families and store them in cement bathtubs with a tarp covering them. Then they wait there for weeks, sometimes months, until SeaWorld needs a new face in the arena.

The health is simply not taken care of for these orcas. Orcas have perpetual sunburns, which are shielded from the public eye with the help of black zinc oxide, which matches their skin. Although zinc oxide is also used as a sunblock, orcas almost always have sunburn before it is applied. Orcas that are not compatible are forced to live in tight quarters together. The resulting anxiety and tension cause fights between orcas. In the wild, orcas have strong social bonds that may last for life, their social rules prohibit serious violence against each other, and when fights do occur, they can find space to flee. In captivity, there’s nowhere for them to go, which leads to injuries and death.

Orcas in captivity gnaw at iron bars and concrete from stress, anxiety, and boredom, sometimes breaking their teeth and resulting in painful dental drilling without anesthesia. In nature, orcas choose their own mates. But at SeaWorld, orcas are forced to breed on a regular basis. Male orcas are trained to float on their backs, and their trainers masturbate them to collect their sperm. Females are artificially inseminated and forced to breed at a much younger age than they would in nature. Katina was forced to breed when she was only 9 years old (at least five years earlier than she would have naturally bred in the wild). Now she is used as a virtual breeding machine and is even being inbred with her own sons. In captivity, all male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins as adults, which is a sign of an unhealthy orca. SeaWorld claims that this condition is common and natural for all orcas. However, collapsed dorsal fins are caused by the unnatural environment of captivity and are rarely seen in the wild. Orcas that are no longer able to provide entertainment to SeaWorld viewers are killed. Their bodies are sliced open, filled with rocks, and thrown to the bottom of the ocean, where it is nowhere to be found.

If the unhealthy consequences and death that comes to all orcas don’t make a difference to you yet, maybe the safety of the human life matters to you more. SeaWorld’s corporate incident log contains reports of more than 100 incidents of orca aggression at its parks, often resulting in injuries to humans and even causing one death by extensive internal bleeding. In the wild, despite centuries of sharing the ocean, there has been only a single reliable report of an orca harming a human being. Because of the stress involved in being deprived of everything that is natural and important to orcas in captivity, orcas have attacked and killed three humans just since 1991 and many others have been injured. In February 2010, Tilikum, a killer whale at SeaWorld amusement park in Orlando, Florida, pulled his trainer Dawn Brancheau underwater, killing her.

It is clear that these animals are not supposed to be toiled with. These are highly intelligent and social animals that know what captivity is. The reasons for all the attacks are clear, captivity is making them crazy. We are ruining their psychological and physical health every minute that they are in the arenas. These animals are family mammals that have built strong relationships with each other. What gives us the right to come and invade their world and tear them away from everything they know? MONEY. Nothing else matters when tons of cash flow is involved. That is a disgusting trait that humanity has and should not get pleasure from the sight of animals suffering.

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