A Reply to Sea World’s Open Letter and an Invitation to Make a Meaningful New Year’s Resolution

Comments Off on A Reply to Sea World’s Open Letter and an Invitation to Make a Meaningful New Year’s Resolution

The documentary “Blackfish” has left a desperate SeaWorld in its wake, struggling to stay afloat in a sea of bad press and criticism from the public.

As performer after performer (eight total, so far) cancels their scheduled show for SeaWorld’s upcoming “Bands, Brews & BBQ” concert series due to concerns raised by the film, SeaWorld has fought back with a list of responses that they have called an open letter from SeaWorld’s “animal advocates.” While their representatives have declined to share how much money was spent putting this response out there, it is almost certain that SeaWorld spent thousands of dollars getting the letter published in eight major U.S. newspapers.

If you have read the letter, you might be finding it hard to separate fact from fiction as it is filled with SeaWorld’s spin on the captive marine mammal industry.

Sea Shepherd would like to present a few counterpoints to SeaWorld’s arguments that will hopefully clear up any confusion.

SeaWorld does not capture killer whales in the wild. Due to the groundbreaking success of our research in marine mammal reproduction, we haven’t collected a killer whale from the wild in 35 years.”

While SeaWorld admits that they have two orcas in their “care” who were captured in the wild, they leave out the violent and traumatic captures that these orcas endured. Footage of a notoriously brutal orca capture in Penn Cove, a capture which tore apart a family of orcas and left some dead, can be seen in “Blackfish.” Those responsible for the capture even sank the bodies of the dead whales in an effort to hide their deaths.

Tilikum’s capture took place off the coast of Iceland in 1983, when he was only 2. He was sent to SeaLand of the Pacific, before enduring a stressful transport once again to his current prison, SeaWorld Orlando.

Many of SeaWorld’s orcas were, indeed, born in captivity. Many of them are the offspring of Tilikum, who is used as SeaWorld’s breeding machine. SeaWorld’s marine mammals are often inbred, offspring of two mated members of the same family, resulting in a range of genetic abnormalities and mutations. That is the truth of SeaWorld’s “groundbreaking success” in marine mammal reproduction.

The letter also conveniently leaves out the fact that SeaWorld plans to take some of the 18 wild-caught beluga whales that the Georgia Aquarium is currently fighting so hard to get their hands on. Some of the belugas would be split between SeaWorld Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego as well as other captive facilities. Why does SeaWorld support the captures of members of a healthy population of beluga whales from the wild, while claiming publicly that their orcas don’t come from the ocean?

“We do not separate killer whale moms and calves. SeaWorld recognizes the important bond between mother and calf. On the rare occasion that a mother killer whale cannot care for the calf herself, we have successfully hand raised and reintroduced the calf. Whales are only moved to maintain a healthy social structure.”

As you can see in “Blackfish,” SeaWorld has in fact removed calves from their mother’s side and transported them to their other parks. Just as any mother would mourn for her child, the orcas have cried out long-range vocals looking for their young, taken by SeaWorld.

Even if this is old footage, it is quite possible that SeaWorld continues this practice. They continue to breed marine mammals, including orcas. Some are transferred between facilities to breed or to perform. In the wild, orcas live in large pods, and in some populations, calves stay with their mother for their entire life.

Regardless, the way to “maintain a healthy social structure” for orcas, animals who live in matriarchal pods, is never to separate a mother from her calf.

“We give our animals restaurant-quality fish, exercise, veterinary care, mental stimulation, and the company of other members of their species.”

The “restaurant-quality fish” being served to these orcas refers to thawed dead fish, contrary to their natural hunting behaviour in the wild. These fish are filled with antibiotics and vitamins to combat the effects of captivity on these often stressed, sick whales.

Wild orcas get moisture from the fish that they consume, but the frozen fish provided at SeaWorld have lost most of the moisture they once contained. So, SeaWorld feeds its orcas massive amounts of gelatin each day for hydration.

While some of these orcas may be kept with members of their species, these artificial pods are not the families that they would live with in the wild. Tilikum often remains alone, and now spends most of his time floating listlessly at the surface of his tank. He is used as a “stud” for SeaWorld’s continuous supply of captive and in-bred orcas (perversely, marine park staff masturbate males in order to collect their semen, which is used to impregnate females), and occasionally he is forced to provide the “big splash” at the end of SeaWorld’s performances. The in-breeding has led to unhealthy offspring and many babies have been stillborn.

“SeaWorld’s killer whales’ life spans are equivalent with those in the wild.”

This is a lie that SeaWorld has been feeding to the public for years. They claim “no one knows for sure how long orcas live,” a claim that has been refuted by marine biologists and orca researchers who have spent the greater part of their careers studying the lives and natural behaviors of orcas in the wild.

SeaWorld’s claim that the life spans of captive and wild orcas are comparable is shattered by the real numbers. In the wild, the average life span for males is 30 years and 50 years for females. Males can reach an estimated maximum age of 60-70 years old, and females 80-90 years old. While SeaWorld points out “five of our animals are older than 30, and one of our whales is close to 50,” this is highly unusual for orcas in captivity, including those at SeaWorld. Many die before those ages, and some even before reaching maturity.

“The killer whales in our care benefit those in the wild. We work with universities, governmental agencies and NGOs to increase the body of knowledge about and the understanding of killer whales — from their anatomy and reproductive biology to their auditory abilities.” 

SeaWorld’s “research” on their captive orcas benefitting wild orcas is a stretch, to say the least. Captive orcas are mere shells of their wild counterparts, unable even to engage in the most basic of their natural behaviours or live in their natural social groupings. The collapsed dorsal fin that you see in captive orcas is something that SeaWorld claims is also common in the wild, but in fact is rarely seen in wild orcas. It is a sign of stress, illness, injury or other conditions.

killer whale5 killer whale6 killer whale1 killer whale2 killer whale4

“SeaWorld is a world leader in animal rescue.The millions of people who visit our parks each year make possible SeaWorld’s world-renowned work in rescue, rehabilitation and release…We have rescued more than 23,000 animals with the goal of treating and returning them to the wild.”

While SeaWorld does rescue, rehabilitate and release ocean wildlife, this statement included in their letter is disgracefully misleading. The animals released by SeaWorld are most often manatees, sea turtles, and other animals who cannot be used as “performers” in their shows. Dolphins and whales and other animals such as sea lions rescued by SeaWorld who can be forced to perform tricks for food are kept and used as performers.

We have yet to hear conclusive findings on the actual success of SeaWorld’s rescue and release program. They do not follow up and report on the survival of the animals who have been released from their care.

In addition, according to its 2011-12 Annual Report, SeaWorld has given only $9 million dollars over the last decade toward conservation efforts. That means for every 100 dollars in revenue they bring in, they donate approximately 1 cent toward saving the animals in the wild whose captive counterparts they are exploiting. That’s .0001 percent of their income going to help animals in the wild. I think that might be the most telling point of all — that, in fact, SeaWorld is really nothing more than a money-making enterprise.

The bottom line is that SeaWorld is part of the massive machine that is the captive marine mammal industry, an industry willing to spew whatever lies it can in order to keep you spending your money at their parks. This industry is inextricably linked not only to the deaths of the animals in their tanks, but to the deaths of marine mammals brutally slaughtered in Taiji, Japan where dolphin trainers work side-by-side with dolphin killers to hand-pick those who are suitable for captivity – those who are “prettiest” and without visible scars.

SeaWorld does not want you to know what “Blackfish” made so clear, and what our volunteer Cove Guardians continue to show on the ground in Taiji every day: captivity kills.

As that message spreads, a new generation is leading the way for a future of freedom for marine life. Children have begun to speak out and say that they will never spend another moment at SeaWorld or other marine parks that hold orcas and other dolphins and whales in captivity. Students have even gotten regular school trips to SeaWorld canceled.

Children may have small voices, but they also have powerful voices because they represent change. This may be the hardest hit to SeaWorld yet, as these future adults will usher in the end of support for the captive industry and a shift toward protecting marine mammals where they belong — in the wild.

Sea Shepherd has a call to action for our many enthusiastic and dedicated young supporters. You are a huge part of spreading Sea Shepherd’s message, including exposing the truth behind SeaWorld and other marine parks. We would like all Sea Shepherds — whether young in age or simply young at heart — to send us a picture with a sign stating your New Year’s Resolution — to never attend SeaWorld or other marine parks again.

You can even send us a video and tell us why this is your resolution for 2014 and beyond.

As a thank you for speaking up for these imprisoned animals in captivity, we will pick a winner from the entries to receive a special Sea Shepherd prize package!

You can send photos or links to your videos to: nomoretanks@seashepherd.org.
All entries must be received by January 4th, 2014 at 5pm PT.

Spread the word for 2014 and beyond: Captivity kills.

Advertisements

Pictured: Killer whale’s mysterious horror gash prompts fresh fury over the treatment of animals at SeaWorld

Comments Off on Pictured: Killer whale’s mysterious horror gash prompts fresh fury over the treatment of animals at SeaWorld

“OMG…that must hurt…the underside of Nakai’s jaw has a gaping wound, one can almost see the ligaments or muscles of the tongue! It’s such a precise cut, it looks like it’s been done with a knife; it’s so precise! Hard to imagine another killer whale could do such a bite, as surely Nakai’s wound would be ragged around the edges with bits of skin dangling.! I have no idea how it happened, but it will take a long time to heal!!”

  • Nakai, an 11-year-old performing whale suffered gash to the chin which left its jawbone exposed
  • Park claims it happened when he hit the side of the pool
  • However reports claim Nakai may have been in a fight with two other whales
  • Peta accuse SeaWorld of housing killer whales together incompatibly, a violation of the Animal Welfare Act

A performing Killer Whale suffered a horrific injury which left its jawbone exposed at a SeaWorld theme park, prompting fury from animal rights groups.

Pictures showing Nakai, an 11-year-old whale who performs at the San Diego SeaWorld park, with a large gash to its chin were leaked online by a unnamed whistleblower. 

In a statement, SeaWorld said Nakai’s injury was caused when it ‘came into contact with a portion of the pool environment’.

Jawbone: Pictures released by a SeaWorld whistleblower show the horrific injuries suffered by killer whale Nikai which insiders claim were result of a fight between three whales

However online reports suggest the incident happened on September 20 when Nakai got into a fight with two other Killer Whales Ike and Keet.

Animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has submitted a complaint to the US Department of Agriculture accusing the park of housing incompatible killer whales together

They believe Nakai was either bitten by one of the other whales or smashed into the concrete pool wall.

Journalist Tim Zimmermann reported: ‘It happened last week during a night show, seemingly during a major altercation involving Nakai, Keet, and Ike.

‘It’s not clear if there was an aggressor or instigator, or if they all suddenly went after each other.

‘In response to the altercation, Nakai split to the back pool. The onstage trainers, not realizing how badly injured he was, continued the show with the other whales. 

‘It was only when they called Nakai over later that night that they realised he was seriously hurt.’

Animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

They have accused SeaWorld of housing Killer Whales together incompatibly –  a direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

A spokesman for the group said: ‘The AWA makes it clear that marine mammals that are not compatible must not be housed in the same enclosure.

Yet SeaWorld parks have a long history of housing incompatible orcas from widely divergent groups together in enclosures – and the result has been stress, agitation, aggressive and bloody raking, serious injury, and death.

In a statement, a spokesman for the park said: ‘There is no organisation in the world more committed to the physical, social and mental welfare  of its animals than SeaWorld.’

They said Nikai is being treated with antibiotics and had been ‘swimming comfortably and interacting with other killer whales’. 

In February 2010 trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by six-ton killer whale Tilikum, who is Nikai’s father, at SeaWorld’s Orlando park.

The six ton whale dragged the 40-year-old into the pool by her pony tail and then thrashed her while she was in the water, as horrified spectators looked on.

It’s was the third death Tilikum had been involved in.

In 1991 trainer Keltie Byrne died after slipping and falling into the tank with Tilikum and two other whales.

In 1999, a man sneaked past security at SeaWorld Orlando and was later found dead, his body draped over Tilikum.

Earlier this year Peta filed a lawsuit against San Diego SeaWorld claiming that the five killer whales at the are treated like slaves because they’re forced to live in tanks and perform daily.

Banned: No trainer is allowed in the water with Tilikum because of his size and dangerous history

The five whales were named as the plaintiffs in the case.

However a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit saying the 13th amendment – which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude – applies only to humans.

News Link:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2211159/SeaWorld-Killer-whale-suffers-mysterious-injury-prompting-fury-animal-rights-groups.html

Follow us@MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

40 Years in a Barren Tank, Lolita the Orca Waits for Freedom

Comments Off on 40 Years in a Barren Tank, Lolita the Orca Waits for Freedom

Published on 22 Aug 2012 by 

Lolita the orca is kept in a tank so small that it fails to meet minimum legal size requirements and offers no protection from the burning sunclear violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Lolita was taken from her family as a young orca and has spent over 40 years in this barren tank, being forced to entertain Miami Sequarium patrons.

Help ALDF free Lolita, visit:  http://is.gd/AwOjCs

For more information on ALDF’s work to free Lolita, visit:http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2132

Speak Out for Better Protections for Captive Orcas Petition Information

Lolita is a solitary orca who has been confined to a tiny concrete tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides members of the wild Southern Resident orca population and other endangered animals with a host of protections, including protection against being harmed or harassed. Yet, despite being a member of the Southern Residents, Lolita has been denied all of these protections without any explanation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The government’s failure to provide Lolita with the protections enjoyed by the wild members of her pod has enabled the Miami Seaquarium to keep her in conditions that violate the Endangered Species Act. Lolita must be granted the protections under federal law which she is rightfully due and which best ensure her survival and well-being, which—depending on her condition—could include transferring her to a sea pen in her home waters and releasing her back to her family pod.

In the wild, orcas live in tight family units with bonds that may last a lifetime. At Seaquarium, Lolita swims endless circles in a small, barren tank that does not comply with USDA regulations. This highly intelligent and social animal has been without an orca companion since 1980.

Sign ALDF’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging them to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in ESA protections.

Please sign the petition here:http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8789

%d bloggers like this: