SeaWorld keeps captive 29 killer whales, the largest killer whale population in a zoological facility worldwide.
They consider themselves a global leader in care and understanding of the species, but many question their practices in behavioral training, preventive health, and facilities design and management. Like other animals at SeaWorld, the whales live in a small, cramped habitat, receive an overwhelming amount of attention from human tourists, and often appear not to be engaged socially or mentally which is detrimental to their abilities. Captive orcas are kept hungry during the day in order to ensure they will do the tricks they have been taught while rewarded with dead fish. When not engaged, they lie listlessly in their tanks at the surface, something wild orcas seldom do.
SeaWorld belongs to two of the foremost zoological organizations: the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Both organizations are strongly supportive of captivity and oppose efforts to reduce captivity. The International Marine Mammal Project and other organizations believe that SeaWorld should remove dolphin and whale captivity from their limited facilities, permanently retire orcas and dolphins to sea pens, and focus on other forms of entertainment.
Photo credit Miss Quarrel.