Death by 50m camera clicks: As THREE SeaWorld killer whales die in a year, a former trainer says when the show is over, the gentle giant’s lives are a ‘disgrace to humanity’
This article fires me up because I am dumb founded that there are people who still go to SeaWorld. It’s 2017. What rock do these people live under that keeps them ignorant to what their ticket supports? It’s not like these families have to do deep research into what companies secretly support animal cruelty. There is no secret here. Many trainers, like John Hargrove, have spoken out about the horrific living conditions these amazingly intelligent animals are forced to live their lives in. About 92% of all captive orcas die before the age of 25. On average, orcas in captivity live about 13 years. In the wild, orcas live lifespans similar to humans, with the oldest known orca (Granny) living to 105.
Why do orcas die so young in captivity? Simple answer: because they don’t belong there. Complex answer: infections they would never be exposed to in the wild such as mass blisters all over their body from not being able to dive deep enough out of the sun, aggression from incompatible pool mates that would never happen in the wild, bashing their heads on, biting, and eating the steel gates and concrete sides of their enclose due to boredom, frustration, and psychosis. Hargrove’s explanation of the painful procedure done without anesthetic on the orca’s teeth would make any person with a conscience cringe.
The animals are given antibiotics consistently to fight infections which lead many to develop immunities to them and thus eventually still dying from infections. Much like humans, the extremely intelligent animals suffer from stress and depression, which lowers their immune systems and leaves them vulnerable to illnesses. At least two whales have died from West Nile virus as they commonly will float or bob (sign of psychosis) on the surface of the water in captivity, unlike in the wild where this behavior has never been witnessed.
‘They claim captive orcas help educate people, and for years I bought into it. But Kasatka lived in misery, in barbaric and horrific conditions, and died in agony. She lived out her days in a house of horrors – and I was complicit in selling the lie to the public.’
The argument that orcas are needed in captivity to teach people about their importance is unacceptable. Teaching people to love something through ownership is not teaching them to love something at all. If it wasn’t so immensely sad, I would laugh in mockery on the concept that showing someone a suffering animal is supposed to teach them how to respect it. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? Respecting anything means thinking about their needs over your own. To allow that animal (or person) to be exactly who or what it should be. No one respects an animal and believes it should be in captivity. The only exception to this is for rescue and release. End of story.
These animals are so emotionally intelligent in ways far more complex than humans. If their brain was shrunken down to the same proportion of a human brain, they would still have a larger limbic lobe than humans, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, relationships, empathy, and memories. Not only is it larger but it’s more complex with its multiple lobs and a greater amount of spindle cells, making them have very, very arguably stronger emotional bonds than humans are even capable of. It is completely unjust to allow the suffering of animals who are equally, if not more so, emotionally aware as humans.
I could write many, many pages explaining all the ways we know what intelligent animals orcas are, or how they are suffering living in these artificial conditions, or why treating an animal with such cruelty is only showing the lack of emotional intelligence humans have. I have, and probably will write many more lengthy papers on this exact issue. My thoughts, and this article, only touch the very edges of this issue and I hope all reading keep that in mind.
We are so close to making this an issue of the past but the momentum needs to continue. Don’t support SeaWorld or any other places that have whales or dolphins in captivity. Together, we can empty the tanks and leave the world a little better than we started.
John Hargove was a SeaWorld trainer for 14 years, quitting his job in 2012 Now he wants to expose the San Diego theme park for its malpractices The trainer claims the animals are kept in tanks that are too small, become violent and develop diseases they would never get in the wild SeaWorld said claims are a ‘miscalculation’ and they are committed to welfare A thousand tourists hold their breath as a giant killer whale leaps skyward, the sun gleaming off its smooth back.