So I’ve decided to do a blog on SeaWorld and the cruel slavery these animals, in particular Orcas, endure. Those of you who know me know that the mere mention of SeaWorld gets my blood boiling, sending me off on one of my rants. A lot of what I’m about to talk about is based on the documentary Blackfish and I have been lucky enough to be in contact with an ex SeaWorld employee who worked with them for 8 years and was at the forefront of Blackfish. Jeffrey Ventre has spent a lot of his time and efforts into raising awareness and showing up SeaWorld for who they really are, this is what he had to say about them, “Blackfish is a combination of verifiable facts and science, historical footage and a great score by Jeff Beal. Its the research that grounds the film and explains why SeaWorld has not tried to sue the filmmakers for liable”.
Orcas, or most commonly known as killer whales, are among the largest mammals on earth. Not only are they one of the largest animals, they are also one of the smartest with a brain weighing in at TWELVE POUNDS, it is the second largest on the planet, behind the sperm whale and 4 to 5 times larger than a human brain. Orcas are actually part of the dolphin family, which explains why they’re so smart. The dorsal fins of the male Orcas in captivity explains a lot. You will notice that in the wild they stand tall, but in captivity they’re collapsed, which begs the question, are they depressed? Short answer, yes. They have a long life span, males live on average 3o years, but can live as long as 50 to 60 years, while females live 50 years but can live as long as 100 years. Which emphasises the saddening fact that the life span of whales in captivity, is significantly lower. When speaking to Jeffrey Ventre he revealed some incredibly distressing facts, he said “It is now famously known that the small tanks and mixed social groups cause a lot of social strife and health issues. Dolphins in the “petting pool” famously fight each other while jockeying for food from park guests. Orcas neurotically grind or fracture their teeth on concrete walls or steel segregation gates”. This is coming from someone who has seen this first hand, this is fact and it needs to stop. It’s inhumane and its killing some of the most beautiful animals on earth.
In 2014 I went to Florida and SeaWorld was on the agenda. However, a few months before I went to Florida I stumbled across the movie Blackfish. And thank god I did! Im the first to admit that I was pretty naive when it came to SeaWorld. I used to say, “oh my god we have to go see the killer whales at SeaWorld, I love them, do you remember Free Willy?”. Yeah, it sickens me too. I hate how ignorant I was to the cruelty of captivity. Anyway, back to Blackfish. This film/documentary opened the flood gates for me, that was it. It was like I became an activist over night. Every time I watch this movie I am in tears and questioning the people who run or even work at SeaWorld. How could people who argue they love animals and the welfare of them then think its ok and natural to keep them in these tanks? No, I’m not someone whose camped outside SeaWorld waving banners but I show a fair amount of support and if I could do more I would. If ever you’ve watched Blackfish you’ll know the sheer cruelty and brutality behind the capture of Tilikum. Tilikum, one of the most famous Orcas in the world and not for the right reasons.
Tilikum was hunted down by a group of fisherman/divers more than 35 years ago. Tilikum was aged just 2 years old when he was ripped away from his mother and the rest of his pod. Some of the orcas in the pod were so traumatised by what had happened that THREE had died, but what did these fisherman/divers do? They cut them open and stuck weights in them so that they would sink to the ocean floor. Disgusting. However, at least these men show some remorse over what happened on that day, but the damage was done. Tilikum was in captivity for 35+ years and in his miserable time in captivity he killed three people. Dawn Brancheau was one of these victims, a trainer at SeaWorld at the time. Something that frustrated Jeffrey Ventre was that SeaWorld refused to take accountability for Dawns death, he explained that, “One of the motivating factors that activated a few of us former SeaWorld trainers, was watching how the park tried to blame Dawn Brancheau for her own death, citing her long ponytail as the reason she was pulled in. They (SeaWorld) were really pushing this story hard which is what they have done historically. I.e. Blame the trainer ”. In the wild there is no evidence of a fatal killer whale encounter to humans. In captivity there have been numerous fatal and non-fatal encounters. Does the evidence speak for itself?
Killer whales are not animals to be kept in captivity, in fact, no animal should be kept in captivity unless for rehabilitation with the result ending in them being re-introduced to the wild. On January 6th 2017 it was announced to the world that poor Tilikum had died. He had spent so much of his life in a tank, in the wild orcas swim upto 100 miles a day. Instead he was found quite often floating aimlessly in his tank. Captivity kills!
Our first real breakthrough as activists was when SeaWorld announced that trainers will no longer be allowed to perform with Orcas as a show. These mammals are not performing monkeys or surfboards that the trainers would surf around the pool. California has now banned the breeding of killer whales and SeaWorld have also agreed to stop breeding them. We are getting there, slowly but surely little improvements and accomplishments are happening. We still have a long way to go, but keep doing what you’re doing everyone. Be a voice for our orcas. One comment from Jeffrey that I wholeheartedly agree with is that “In regards to captivity itself, there is much more information to come out on the cruel, unethical and inhumane practice of it”. There is still much more to come out and we’re coming for you SeaWorld!
I would like to say a big thank you to Dr Jeffrey Ventre for taking his time to write a statement for my blog, it just goes to show the passion we have to empty the tanks and end captivity. To see more from Jeffrey you can see him on Blackfish the movie and in a recent interview with the BBC using this link https://youtu.be/Sej_tTIDQbY.
For everyone who has read this, thank you. I would love to see some comments and lets get it shared far and wide. If there’s one thing you do after reading this, let it be to watch Blackfish.