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SeaWorld the abusement park

Tilikum, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilikum_(orca)

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Over the last few years, SeaWorld has received a lot of backlash for allegedly mistreating their animals. The argument really kick-started in 2010, when Dawn Brancheau, a diver who worked at SeaWorld Orlando for 16 years, was killed by Tilikum the killer whale. The former SeaWorld executive, Thad Lacinak, spoke on the matter, saying, “If [Dawn] was standing here with me now would tell you that it was her mistake in allowing that to happen.”

Killer whales have been kept in captivity by SeaWorld for nearly 60 years. Some of these captures have been for a just cause, where they have helped injured orcas rehabilitate; but in many instances, this is not the case. Some orcas are captured that are perfectly healthy and simply just separated from their families.

What you may not know about SeaWorld is that they artificially inseminate their animals to keep their shows going. They tell you at the shows that they are capturing injured animals to help them heal, but really have no intent of releasing them back to the wild. The goal is instead to bring a new generation into the performance lifestyle.

One of the most noticeable problems you can see with the killer whales is the collapsed dorsal fin. However, in the wild, this is fairly uncommon; there are really only two reasons for this to happen, as reported by SeaWorld Fact Check. The most common reason for the fin to collapse is the unhealthy diet they are fed.

The diet that killer whales are given in captivity is very unhealthy. The fish they are fed are small, thawed fish that have lost nutrients from being frozen. They are also given gelatin to rehydrate, although it is not healthy for them because of the artificial sugars. For reference, Tilikum was a 12,000 pound whale who consumed 83 pounds of gelatin everyday, according to SeaWorld of Hurt.

The other reason it may happen is because the killer whales are spending too much time above the water. In the wild, killer whales spend a lot of time underwater and only come up for air every once in a while. Whereas in captivity, they are constantly coming up to see the trainer and gravity takes its effect on the fin.

The living conditions the orcas are kept in are not healthy for their everyday lifestyles. For one, the average killer whale will swim up to 100 miles a day and may dive down to depths of 1000 feet. The tanks, however, are only 350 feet long (0.7 miles) and 50 feet deep, leaving them feeling utterly claustrophobic and distressed.

The stress of their lives and their intuition to be a predator in the wild causes them to be stressed out. Such stress can cause illnesses like pneumonia, which is why killer whales don’t live past 30 years old in captivity. In the wild, the average age of killer whales is about 50 years old, and, in many cases, even older.

Clearly you can see the ethical problems with SeaWorld. These orcas and other animals don’t belong in this unhealthy, alien habitat. As long as people continue to speak out about the problems SeaWorld has they will continue to make progress. If you would like to know more about SeaWorld you can check out a documentary on Netflix called Blackfish.

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SeaWorld the abusement park