3 Reasons to Stop Spending Money at SeaWorld

     Though seemingly long overdue, it is never too late to exploit the immorality in animal captivity. Zoos, aquariums, and amusement parks are no place for wild and magnificent creatures of the seas, forests, and jungles. We’ve endured the captivity debate for decades and this is why you need to stop fueling the fire.


1. Dividing Families and Forming New Ones

     Collecting an award-winning cast of whales had to begin somewhere. Though the few at Sea World now have come from a long line of “tamed” orcas, the family didn't just come to. Traveling in packs, orcas were robbed of their calves by humans and here is why you should care:

     Ripped from their families and placed in tanks, these calves were improperly raised. They lashed out in frustration and did not know how to cope upon being stolen from their mothers. Primarily, the trainers and employees thought the whales would grow accustomed to their new environment, but instead, the whales grew increasingly aggressive.

     Despite their names, killer whales' inherent traits are more pacifist than violent. With ample time in captivity, these animals grow progressively dangerous due to their inability to swim the great distances they should, utilize their echolocation in a proper manner, and prey and hunt like they should. Tilikum, previously SeaWorld’s showstopper, killed three trainers in angst and fury from his cramped quarters. SeaWorld tried to cover these incidents by placing blame on the trainers; they should not have been wearing their hair in a ponytail, they should not have been on the wrong side of the tank, they should be watching the whales more carefully, etc. In reality, these trainers were victims of the anger and frustration SeaWorld instilled in its whales.

      Not only has the separation from their families psychologically damaged the first generation of orcas, but these are the whales that have been bred for further generations. Before he died in confinement, Tilikum was SeaWorld’s biggest and most aggressive whale. Taking advantage of his size, the SeaWorld staff used him to breed for the future generations. Tilikum’s genes are now present in every orca at SeaWorld, including those for his anger and aggression. These angry and violent whales are a consequence of SeaWorld's egocentricity which therefore induces their mistreatment and confinement.


2. Detrimental Physical Impact on the Whales

     Aside from the mental strain on the whales, the tanks impact their physical stature as well. How many times have you heard that animals survive longer in captivity? Though this statement is widespread through all of SeaWorld’s campaigns and shows, it is simply incorrect. A male orca’s expected life span in the wild is 60-70 years old, while a female’s is 80-100 years. Taking this into consideration, note that the average lifespan for whales in captivity at SeaWorld specifically, is 13 years. This includes the miscarriages from the whales due to improper care for pregnant whales in captivity. Clearly, confinement sheds years from their lives and it is not a secret that SeaWorld has been trying to hide this for decades.

     The orcas’ inability to swim what it would in the ocean each day decreases their lifespan. Without this physical exercise, it is impossible for the whales to live a healthy life. There is also no other way to get this exercise other than a change in environment. The size of the containers that these beautiful creatures are in would require them to do roughly 1,200 laps for the full 100 miles that they would venture in the ocean each day. The lack of stimuli and other animals in the water with them is just another blow to their mental health.

     Another interesting observation almost exclusive to SeaWorld is the dorsal fin collapse. SeaWorld claims that this phenomenon is a result of their large orcas, they are “too big” to support the weight of their fins. This fabrication has deceived many SeaWorld fans for years, but was actually proved false in the documentary, Blackfish. The collapsed fin results from a weakened physical state, due to a lack of extensive swimming and proper diet. In fact, scientists only observed three whales in the wild with a collapsed dorsal fin and presumed the impediment of human causes, such as fishing gear malfunctions, weaponry, or oil spills. The only known causes of dorsal fin collapse resulted from human mistreatment. Additionally, shortly following these observations, all three whales died. Dorsal fin collapse has not occured without the influence of humans.


3. Danger of Combining Whales

     The combination is where the mental exhaustion, physical detriments, and confinement combine to create problems. Whales in the same families nurture and swim together, but combining whales from different families in a small area causes violence. The orcas resort to fighting to declare dominance or sometimes even out of boredom. Close quarters make it nearly impossible for the orcas to swim away or secure safety from their other predators in the tank. Cases document killer whales that injure themselves while trying to escape from fellow confined orcas.

     Their mental state forces the orcas to perform activities like gnawing on the tank bars to escape or just for something to do. The killer whales need stimulation or a vast distance to swim to keep their minds and bodies active. Without such diversions, violence becomes a pertinent aspect of their lifestyle. The fighting and gnawing allows them to release their tension and frustration, but remains unhealthy for animals that should have an affectionate lifestyle.

     Combining many whales also increases their risk of illness. Having too many whales will heighten their chances to transfer diseases. Furthermore, their extreme exposure to many people could make them sick. Obviously, illness results from physical exhaustion but confinement impacts the whales’ mental health inducing high stress to cause it as well. Each contributing factor of confinement proves disastrous results for the orcas’ health and lives.

 Confining animals for human amusement is wrong and unjust but still fares in our society. The surplus of money thrown at SeaWorld and similar organizations allows them to persist maltreatment for selfish gain. To avoid funding and upholding their barbaric operation, rather than paying over $80 for staged tricks that last less than an hour, you can observe orcas in their natural habitat for 3 hours at a price less than $100. Though this current generation of whales will be the last to see SeaWorld’s containment, it is crucial that we learn from these mistakes to ensure that this does not happen again.