In its defense of the controversial practice of keeping orcas in captivity, SeaWorld often touts that it hasn't needed to capture killer whales from the wild in 35 years due the success of their "research in marine mammal reproduction". But what SeaWorld fails to mention is that they have been taking other animals from the wild.
In 2011, after SeaWorld staff determined that all the emperor penguins they had in captivity were too old to take part in a penguin study being conducted by a nearby ocean research institute, they decided to acquire a few more, though not from a zoo or an aquarium.
Instead, SeaWorld headed to an emperor penguin colony on Cape Washington, Antarctica and stole 10 dependent penguin chicks from their parents and shipped them back to the company's San Diego, California location.
According to the New Zealand Herald, conservation groups at the time were outraged. Among them was Bob Tait, director of the group Friends of the Earth:
"We strongly object to the removal of the penguins from their colony, and subjecting them to the ordeals of lengthy jet travel, and condemning them, for profit-driven reasons, to live out the rest of their lives separated from their real colony in an alien environment at SeaWorld, California.'' SeaWorld's communications director David Koontz responded to the criticism by saying that the birds were being taken from the wild on behalf of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography for research purposes -- though the marine park's involvement in the transfer hints at another less academic use for the birds.