Born Free: Killer Whales Essay

1580 words - 6 pages

When I was younger I always wanted to be a trainer at SeaWorld and work with Shamu, but of course I didn’t know how controversial captivity was. As I got older I started researching the issue and came to the realization that Orcas, also known as Killer Whales should not live in captivity. In captivity Orcas are in danger as well as the trainers who work with them. Orcas are the largest of the Dolphin family and are found in all oceans. They range from 23 to 32 feet in length, and can weigh up to 6 tons. They are one of the world’s most powerful predators, and have even been known to prey on whales (Whales.org). These magnificent mammals are born free and should remain in the oceans. It’s easy to understand that people love Killer Whales and want to see them up close, but putting them in tanks for our entertainment is wrong.
When hearing the facts about Orcas in captivity I was shocked. It has been proven that Orcas in the wild have a life expectancy of 30 to 50 years and their maximum being 60 to 70 years for males and 80-100 for females. Sadly the life expectancy in captivity is only 9 years. The mental, emotional, and physical stress that a captive whale suffers can weaken their immune system and make them prone to disease (SeaWorldofHurt.org). Even though they are kept in an environment free from predators, pollution and other threats, they die young. In captivity Orcas often break their teeth chewing compulsively on metal gates. These broken teeth, even drilled and cleaned by vets, are clear routes for bacteria to enter the bloodstream (Killer-Whales.org). These are the obvious factors, but there are many others contributing to the mortality seen in captivity. Besides the concern about the Whales there is concern for the trainers that work with them. Trainers are often in the water with the whales, where they put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. In the wild, Orcas have never been recorded hurting a human. But Sadly because of the stress involved in captivity, Orcas have attacked and killed six trainers total and many others have been injured (The Daily Beast.com). Tilikum, a male Orca currently living in SeaWorld, has been involved in three human deaths. Clearly, he is trying to tell them something. There have been 115 recorded incidents between humans and Orcas in Captivity (OrcaHome.com). Another sign of bad health is that all captive male Orcas have collapsed dorsal fins. This is because they do not have enough space to swim freely and are fed an unnatural diet of dead, frozen fish. SeaWorld claims this is common, but in the wild it rarely happens and is a sign of an injured or unhealthy Orca (Whales.org).
Orcas living habits in the wild are suppressed greatly when put in captivity. Orcas are social animals that live in family related groups. They display a high level of care for their offspring, and as with most mammals, Orcas are very protective of their young. Orcas are also expert hunters and have a wide range of...

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