The Orca Ordeal Essay

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The latest animal rights issue to hit the public is a whale of a controversy. For decades, the public has enjoyed visiting SeaWorld and taking in mesmerizing displays of aquatic performance by orcas, the largest species of dolphins, and their trainers. Recent events have stirred up a media uproar over the safety of these creatures and their trainers. Much of what the public knows about the maltreatment of these creatures comes from a documentary released in 2013 called “Blackfish”. The breeding and captivity of killer whales for entertainment purposes poses a threat not only to the whales, but also the trainers who interact with them.
Observations show that orcas suffer from significant health and emotional issues while in captivity.
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Being very emotional creatures, captivity denies orcas the emotional connections that they thrive on. Killer whales form pods in the wild. These groups can be anywhere from 5 orcas to 50. Having strong emotional attachment to their young, these pods place their safety as top priority. Calves stay with their mothers until the age of four or later. For entertainment purposes, SeaWorld separates pods and places calves with different mothers to create the most convenient pod to display in shows (Cowperthwaite). Though they deny it, they attempt to play God by mixing and matching orcas to create new families, all for the purpose of show business. “Blackfish” shows footage of a mother orca going into extreme depression after being separated from her calf. Captive environments, such as SeaWorld in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego or Loro Parque, in Spain, fail to create a realistic and natural seeming environment. Orcas need large open spaces to swim, and tanks cannot provide the size and diversity that an environment should have. Tilikum, perhaps the most famous of SeaWorld’s orcas, experienced lack of stimulation when he was forced to spend his nights in a 20x20 foot metal box-like tank with two other orcas. This environment did not provide light or room to move around; he would be found in the morning with injuries from other whales kept in the same quarters (Cowperthwaite). SeaWorld currently allows Loro Parque, a sea- themed amusement park in

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