Killer whales, more properly known as orcas, have been kept in captivity since 1961, helpless victims of a blatantly commercial experiment which has seen dozens of wild orcas plucked from their families and forced to live in artificial social groupings which bear scant resemblance to their natural order.
Unaware of their plight, millions of people flock each year to watch the orca show, seduced by the extravagant promises of the display industry. Glossy brochures herald a spectacle which will simultaneously 'entertain and educate the whole family'. Visitors are invited to enter a fantasy land, where orcas weighing several tonnes circle, leap and tail-slap seemingly out of sheer high spirits. Highly-choreographed show routines, performed to a background of tired old rock songs, are presented as 'natural behaviour'. Entranced, many of the spectators fail to register the bare concrete walls of the tank. At show's end, as they file out, few people notice the endless circling of the captives in the holding pools or the drooping dorsal fins of the males. Read the rest of the report from Whale and Dolphin Conservation here.
Nanna Påskesen is also maker of the documentary Zoochosis, that studies the abormal behaviour patterns in animals housed in zoos. Check it out here.