The world has been outraged by the horrifying documentary of Killer Whale abuse in SeaWorld, Blackfish. It has been no secret that SeaWorld has claimed the whole documentary is a lie and that it is very one-sided.
Marilee Menard, former director of the Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Aquariums, has have hit back by saying that Blackfish:
“ignores the essence of parks and aquariums — their dedication to wildlife research, conservation, education and rescue of stranded marine mammals.
Aquariums fund studies on the diets, reproduction and immune systems of marine mammals as well as evaluate contaminants affecting certain species to help understand and improve animals’ health in the wild.
Marine parks have explored technologies to protect wild animals from fishing gear that cause many deaths each year. Also, animals in human care are surrogates for studies of wild, endangered species that would be impossible to complete without disturbing their vulnerable wild counterparts.”
This does sound like an intellectual answer with valid points. However, I think it comes down to the good vs the bad, so to speak. The first point made is that marine mammals are studied to help improve the life of animals in the wild. Fair enough. However, orcas are being taken away from their families, put in a foreign environment and forced to perform. Is this a case of the end justify the mean?
The next point made is that ‘marine parks have explored technologies to protect wild animals from fishing gear that cause many deaths each year’. When killer whales are fished from the ocean for captivity many whales die due to the flash bombs and stress of the whole event.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any advantages to killer whales in captivity. However, they are very few or far between. More often than not they advantages seem to benefit humans instead of the animals.
Also this article, which can you find here : CNN, uses images which I find quite misleading for example: A photo of Halle Berry, because obviously if a celebrity thinks it’s okay then it is.
Here is an image of Keiko, the killer whale who played ‘Free Willy’ being released. The caption explains how Keiko wasn’t ready to be independent and spent most of his time with fishermen and children, then stating he died in 2002 ‘most likely from pneumonia’ indicating that this orca would be better in captivity.
Here is an image of a killer whale who was found ‘starving’ in the ocean and was moved to Loro Parque to perform in captivity where she was fed and well looked after. However, what they fail to mention is that Loro Parque is the worst kept aquarium of all the aquariums. When the whales were originally moved from SeaWorld to this aquarium nothing was ready and the whales constantly has problems. Not to mention that trainer, Alexis Martinez, was killed by a killer whale at this park.
It is obvious Blackfish is very one-sided. However, I feel that for all the ‘examinations’ they do on these animals to help get a better understanding of how they operate in the wild is a little back-handed.
Yes, killer whales have died when they’ve been released from captivity into the wild but after a while these whales are no longer dependent and have had their freedom stripped away then told to go hunt for themselves so their death is inevitable in most cases.
I personally believe that no matter what facts are thrown at me I won’t ever agree to killer whales in captivity.