SeaWorld has repeatedly claimed that their orcas live as long as orcas in the wild.
However, on Monday, July 24th, yet another of SeaWorld’s captive orcas has died, this time at only 3-months old, which suggests once again that keeping orcas in small concrete tanks is not healthy or defensible.
In March 2016, SeaWorld made the surprising announcement that they would no longer breed orcas in captivity. Faced with pending state legislation in California and a requirement from the California Coastal Commission that no breeding of captive orcas be allowed at SeaWorld San Diego, the company decided to end breeding of their valuable captive orcas in all their parks. (However, the breeding ban does not, unfortunately, extend to their other cetaceans, including dolphins and beluga whales. These species continue to be forcibly bred to produce new performers for SeaWorld shows.)
One orca, Takara, was pregnant at the time of the breeding-ban announcement, so therefore there would be one more birth at SeaWorld San Antonio. That calf, named Kyara, was born three months ago, and is now dead, apparently from pneumonia. SeaWorld stated she was ill all week, and finally separated from her mother and placed in the SeaWorld San Antonio medical pool for treatment with antibiotics and hand feeding.
Critics contend that the remaining SeaWorld orcas should be retired to seaside sanctuaries, rather than continue to perform 24/7 and live in the small concrete tanks that cannot provide for healthy orcas.
In a controversial statement, SeaWorld claims that the death of Kyara was not due to her captivity and that “Kyara’s pneumonia has been identified as the most common cause of mortality and illness in whales in (sic) dolphins, both in the wild and in zoological facilities.”
But John Hargrove, featured in the documentary “Blackfish” and author of “Beneath the Surface”, who was a senior orca trainer at SeaWorld, contends that SeaWorld exploited Kyara by advertising her as the last orca born in captivity. “Now she’s dead,” he told “Voice of San Diego”, an online news site.
Sign our petition to force SeaWorld to tell the truth about their captive orcas.
Photo by Milan Boers.