SeaWorld also plays God with what it calls "genetic management." The act of artificially inseminating whales, even juvenile ones, years before they would naturally breed in the wild, and years before their bodies have fully developed. Its parks have bred and created species of orcas that do not exist in the natural world. Their breeding program crosses populations of whales who would/could never meet, or breed together in the wild. Confinement and boredom has resulted in multiple cases of inbreeding and incest, something that is against orca nature. SeaWorld describes this as a, "successful breeding program," when it is actually an abomination.
The corporation also touts, "world class veterinary care," for its orcas. However, this care is a necessity to treat the ravages of captivity. Due to stress, frustration and boredom, orcas wear down their teeth by biting at concrete ledges, the stage, and steel gates. The dental damage caused during this process requires SeaWorld and its trainers to drill into the orcas' teeth to prevent and avert infections.
Many captive whales live their entire lives on medication with drugs to treat ulcers, infections, pneumonia, and stress. This is reflected in their lifespans. Since 2005, eight SeaWorld-owned orcas have died. Their ages at death were:
- 10 months
- 02 years
- 12 years
- 14 years
- 15 years
- 20 years
- 25 years
An unborn calf also died along with her mother during the birthing process. In contrast, wild orcas can easily live into their 60s, and even 80s, without the assistance of SeaWorld's "world-class veterinary care."
SeaWorld has owned 67 orcas in its half-century of existence, and more than 50 percent of those whales are now dead.
SeaWorld audaciously justifies its possession of whales by describing them as, "ambassadors for their species." In reality, these animals are captive because they bring in massive amounts of money - not conservation awareness. Through recent documentaries and books, people are waking up to what is really happening in marine parks, and to the cruelty that is inflicted on one of our planet's greatest creatures.
This shift in thought is being adopted by other corporations. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, recently made the historic decision to retire all of their elephants to sanctuaries by 2018. They cited a transformation in consumers and how they perceived the ethics surrounding performing animals.
Today, there is an increasing number of major corporate sponsors and performing artists, who have and are, turning their backs on SeaWorld. The message should be clear to the corporation: captive, performing orcas are not what consumers want to see. People are more knowledgeable. They have pierced the hype and know that orcas are exploited for profit and entertainment. They have realized that SeaWorld's, "education and conservation," mantra, is just a circus, a cruel, wrong circus.
More than 30 countries around the world now have partial or complete bans on keeping animals in captivity. That number continues to grow. Through the efforts of many, legislation on captivity is coming to the table in the United States.
We are evolving.
There is little doubt in my mind that within 50 years, we will look back at this moment and find it hard to imagine that this cruelty and injustice was once considered acceptable - just as we have come to acknowledge other mistakes in the last 50 years. We do not have the right to keep orcas in captivity for pleasure and profit. Science tells us why, with a truth that is now self-evident.