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The Sad Affair of Wikie, the So-Called Talking Orca

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: Captivity Industry, Orcas, Science

By Mark J. Palmer

We recently spoke (as did several other organizations) with Business Insider, a prominent online business journal, about the recent news that a captive orca at Marineland, Antibes, France, has been taught to mimic human speech.

Needless to say, we pointed out that teaching a captive orca to mimic human speech was a distraction from the fact that the poor animal was expected to spend the rest of her shortened life in a small concrete pool doing circus tricks to entertain the public.

Here’s the article with our quotes:



A killer whale learning to speak human words is a 'circus act' to distract from the cruelty of her captivity, say animal rights activists. 

Wikie, a 16-year-old killer whale in France, made headlines on Wednesday after audio was released showing that she'd learned how to mimic human speech.

But while many were amazed by the sound of an orca recreating words including "hello," "bye bye," and "one, two, three," animal rights activists were furious.

Four animal rights organisations told Business Insider that Wikie's training was cruel and inhumane, and that she should be free rather than in captivity.

"Neither scientific nor humane"

The Earth Island Institute, a California-based environmental group, and the London-based World Animal Protection also criticised Wikie's performances at Marineland.

Mark J Palmer, an associate director at the Earth Island Institute, told BI that Wikie's story was "a circus act." He said:

"Teaching a captive orca to make sounds like a human is neither scientific nor humane. It is a circus act and a distraction from the issue of captivity."

"These orcas are too big, too wide-ranging, and have social bonds that have been ripped apart by captivity. All so they can spend the rest of their shortened lives in small concrete tanks doing meaningless experiments and doing repetitive tricks to entertain humans."

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