The Scarlet Scroll

Opinion: SeaWorld’s Historical Change: A Go or a Blow?

Angel Zhu, Opinion Editor

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In March of 2016, SeaWorld proudly announced its plan to expel orca breeding and make major changes in its programs, but it seems as if this pod’s plan is gonna blow over.

For decades, SeaWorld has been exploiting killer whales’ lives for entertainment purposes. In an organization supposedly devoted to education, care, conservation and research, orcas are coerced into performing circus-like tricks in front of a crowd of hundreds for food.

At SeaWorld today, there are five orcas that were kidnapped and shipped to the park. For example, Tilikum, a 32 year-old orca, was captured when he was 2. Perfectly healthy, he was torn away from his home and confined into a concrete pool.

In addition, Shamu, a female orca who was the first performer in 1965, was kidnapped from her mother as she witnessed her mother being shot before her very eyes by orca “cowboy,” Ted Griffin. According to SeaWorld of Hurt, Griffin later “hired divers to slit open the bellies of four orcas, fill them with rocks, put anchors around their tails, and sink them to the bottom of the ocean so that their deaths would not be discovered.”

Upon arrival at SeaWorld, orcas spend up to 95% of their time floating in their tanks that are the proportional equivalent of us living in our bathtubs. This causes severe stress that has lead to over 100 incidents where orcas “bit, rammed, lunged at, pulled, pinned and swam aggressively with SeaWorld trainers” (SeaWorld of Hurt) and three deaths. In addition, SeaWorld of Hurt reported that since 1971, at least 36 orcas have died at SeaWorld, at an average age of only 13 years.

Orcas at SeaWorld don’t receive the opportunity to naturally mate with other orcas. Males are trained to float on their backs while trainers cause them to masturbate to collect their sperm. Females are then artificially inseminated and forced to produce offspring at unnaturally young ages. Katina, a female orca, is even forced to inbreed with her sons.

But SeaWorld promises “historical” change. SeaWorld CEO, Joel Manby stated the changes they plan on making in his article in the Los Angeles Times. Manby stated that they will end orca breeding programs and “phase out” their theatrical orca shows.

SeaWorld Cares reported that they will replace their theatrical shows with “new, inspiring and natural orca encounters” as well as launch partnerships “to protect oceans and marine mammals.”

“We’re creating a new vision for SeaWorld that will help us deliver on our mission that every guest who walks through our doors will be inspired to take action to help protect wild animals and wild places” (SeaWorld Cares).

Manby said, “By offering our guests enjoyable, memorable and educational experiences, SeaWorld will continue to create the constituency for conservation, just as we helped to inspire the changing attitudes that, in turn, inspired our company’s changing policies.”

SeaWorld might be claiming to change its ways, but Kelly Slater, champion surfer, voices his beliefs below.

“A statement from PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman follows:

Kelly Slater, on PETA’s behalf, planned to point out to shareholders that if SeaWorld cared about orcas, as it likes to claim, it would stop its disgusting and unnatural inbreeding program and turn its tawdry abusement parks into coastal sanctuaries. In sea pens, orcas could swim in ocean water instead of in chemically treated waste water, hear and answer the calls of their extended families, and begin to live truly as orcas in a protected area of the ocean. PETA will push SeaWorld to make this change, and we’re exploring our legal options over SeaWorld’s lock-out of dissenting voices who speak for the animals they hold prisoner.”

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