Saturday, April 2, 2011


Only foolish humans would keep a 12,300 pound Killer Whale, or Orca, in captivity, made to perform & listen to loud music under stressful conditions. 

Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Killer whales as a species have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as sea lionssealswalruses and even large whales. Killer whales are regarded as apex predators, lacking natural predators and preying on even large sharks.
Killer whales are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviors, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as manifestations of culture.
Migration patterns are poorly understood. Each summer, the same individuals appear off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington State. Despite decades of research, where these animals go for the rest of the year remains unknown. Transient pods have been sighted from southern Alaska to central California.] Resident killer whales sometimes travel as much as 160 kilometres (100 mi) in a day, but may be seen in a general area for a month or more. Resident killer whale pod ranges vary from 320 to 1,300 kilometres (200 to 810 mi).

Tilikum, is a bull orca who lives in captivity at SeaWorld OrlandoTilikum measures 22.5 feet (6.9 m) long and weighs in at 12,300 pounds (5,600 kg), as of 2010. His pectoral fins are six and one half feet long, his flukes curl under, and his 6 feet (1.8 m)-tall dorsal fin is collapsed completely to his left side. He is the largest orca in captivity. As stated above, Killer Whales maintain an 800 mile radius as a kind of home base. They are social, and work together to hunt for food. I don't blame the whales for the human deaths, because humans took them out of their natural habitat, and put them in a very unnatural habitat. They are wild animals, behaving as wild animals do. It's amazing they even put up with the circus performance type training they have been subjected to. 


First incident

While at Sealand, on February 21, 1991, Tilikum was involved in an incident which resulted in the death of a female trainer. The trainer slipped and fell into the tank with the whales. Tilikum, pregnant Haida II, and Nootka IV grabbed her in their mouths and tossed her to each other, presumably playing. The trainer subsequently drowned. The orcas had never had humans in the water with them before. Both females were pregnant at the time which was not known to the trainers.

Second incident

Tilikum was at the scene of a death on July 6, 1999. A 27-year-old homeless male intruder was found floating naked in Tilikum’s pool. He had visited SeaWorld the previous day, stayed after the park closed, and evaded security to enter the orca tank. Investigators determined that the man supposedly bit Tilikum. The intruder was eventually identified as Daniel Dukes. Hypothermia was listed as the main cause of death.

Third incident

On February 24, 2010 Tilikum was involved in a third incident, when he killed Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer with 16 years of experience at SeaWorld. The trainer was drowned following a popular 'Dine with Shamu' show as at least two dozen tourists looked on from above a whale tank and from an underwater viewing area. Employees used nets and threw food at the whale in an attempt to distract him.
Moving from pool to pool in the complex, they eventually captured Tilikum and released Brancheau's body, before realizing that the whale still had her arm. A SeaWorld executive confirmed what witnesses saw, that Tilikum pulled the trainer into the water by her ponytail, possibly mistaking it for a fish or thinking it was a toy.  Brancheau's autopsy indicated death by drowning and blunt force trauma. The autopsy noted that her spinal cord was severed and she sustained fractures to her jawbone, ribs and to a cervical vertebra.
On August 23, 2010, the park was fined US$75,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for three safety violations, two directly related to Brancheau's death. SeaWorld issued a statement that called OSHA's findings "unfounded".
Scott Brancheau, widowed husband of the SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, has hired a law firm  that specializes in wrongful-death litigation to represent him.
Tilikum returned to performing on March 30, 2011. The trainers no longer work closely with him, and no trainers are allowed in the water with him. High pressure hoses are used to direct the whales, and guardrails and safety nets have also been installed in the pool. There are plans to install false-bottom floors that can lift trainers and whales out of the pools in under a minute.

The problem with putting Killer Whales in captivity is they don't survive in the wild. Once they have been hand fed, and removed from their natural family or pod, other Pods of Orcas don't connect. They tried that with Keiko the Killer Whale, when they eventually removed him from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, to Iceland. Once in the ocean, Keiko sometimes took "walks", one that was 870 miles away, off the coast of Norway. He had lost weight, and also later failed to connect with a passing by pod of Killer Whales. He was unable to adapt to being released in the wild, but they kept him in a large ocean bay, but trainers were forced to continue to feed & care for him.

 So many factors, the Orcas living free are used to swimming 100 miles a day. Putting this huge whale in a holding tank ruins their health, not only do they not have space, but they are fed dead fish which is an entirely different diet, which also causes them to lose their ability to hunt in the wild.  Also radical climate changes, like Florida, which is the wrong temperature. Tilikum has been ill, taking antibiotics, and being held in captivity, for the captive whale, not performing means even less exercise. 
Because he has killed humans three times, you would think Sea World would retire Tilikum. Instead he is back in the fishbowl of entertainment. Can you imagine the insurance liability rate for this set up?
But seriously, you would think if the whale killed 3 people, they would not set it up for a potential 4th incident?

* Credit Wikipedia for Whale fact info.


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right Fran,
SeaWorld’s insurance rates have certainly already sky-rocketed and will undoubtedly soar after the conclusion of the OSHA vs. SeaWorld hearings scheduled to begin April 25 in Orlando.
The previously issued citations for “Willfully” placing their employees at risk will stand at the conclusion of the hearings based on the overwhelming evidence of what SeaWorld knew prior to Dawn Brancheau’s death.
You can read more about the upcoming OSHA hearings, Tilikum’s return, and exclusive interviews with former SeaWorld trainers at The Orca Project here:
Thanks for posting Fran!!!

Anonymous said...

The reference to the insurance rate-- So you want liability insurance for a 12,000 Killer Whale that has killed 3 people in an amusement park setting?

A tongue in cheek remark. The real issue is taking these wild mammals from their natural habitat & confining them to pens-- knowing they need at least 800 miles of space is cruel. To exploit them, feed them the wrong diet & expect them to perform is over the top.

At least when they did finally get Keiko out of the performance exhibits & took him to Oregon, his performance life was over.
They got him on a proper whale diet where he gained weight, took care of his skin lesions & he no longer performed. People could view him from below water viewing windows, but he also had an outdoor auxiliary tank, so if he wanted space, he could get away from people.

In the end it was good that he was able to live naturally- out on the open ocean & swim for hundreds of miles & learned to hunt his live food. He had his health, life & freedom back, before he died.
He may have lived longer if he connected with a pod & did some warmer water migration in the winter.

There should be a movement to boycott these SeaWorld exhibits. They will stop exploiting whales in confinement when it is no longer profitable.


Howard Garrett said...

People who pay money to see orcas displayed in tanks are playing their role in the symbolic ritual of dominating other species. The spectacle of captive orca displays is an extension of the Roman circus, when thousands of large African mammals like elephants, lions and tigers were caught and brought to the stadium to be slaughtered before the masses, so everyone could feel powerful. Much of N. African wildlife was wiped out for the spectacle of dominance.

Orca said...

Tilikum did not do anything natural when he killed or participated in killing three humans. He is stressed beyond belief, and has been subjected to sexual, mental and physical interference since he was a little boy. He is an angry man who lives in the water, not a "bull". A mind in the waters. The orca prison stadia remind me also of the nadir of human history that was the Roman coliseum, where terrified animals fought to the death for amusement of degenerate humans.It is good to see the atrocity of orca captivity and captive breeding atrocity getting increasing attention.

D.K. Raed said...

I won't ever patronize an orca show again.

Yet, even with all the publicity about what really happens to orcas in captivity, people still flock to the shows.

Is it like some Nascar fans ... who attend mainly for the chance to see a crash?

Fran said...

The closest I even came to seeing a whale in captivity, was to visit Keiko in Oregon. He was not performing, he could be viewed from underwater viewing areas, and he had a private tank to go to if he did not want be be in the viewing area.
I do notice footage of the SeaWorld shows have lots of empty seats in the rafters.
Let's hope more people bail out & help shut down this abomination.