Sea World’s Mistreatment of Orcas

Apple Middleton, Journalist

Sea World is a beautiful aquatic-themed park that is known for its unique species of sea life and interactive exhibits. Although it’s filled with rides, food, gifts and aquariums, Sea World’s main source of attraction are the Orcas, or killer whales.. Sea World hosts 20 different orcas across its three parks. 

The captivation of these beasts in small, confined spaces causes much stress and controversy amongst animal conservationists and tourists of the park. Through news reports, documentaries, movies and more, SeaWorld is being exposed for their poor treatment of these wild animals. These accounts have sparked much controversy. There are countless examples of how the orcas should not be kept in such small spaces and be trained by humans. Female orcas can reach 18-22 feet in length and weigh 8 to 11 thousand pounds while males can get up to 26 feet long and weigh 12 thousand pounds or more. This size of creature surely should have miles of space to swim around in: In the wild, orcas swim up to 100 miles a day and can dive 300 feet deep, while at Sea World, the enclosures are 100-140 feet long and 30 feet deep, a small fraction of the space orcas ideally require. The tanks are like a kitty pool to these animals and they deserve more. Not much thought had been placed into the well being of these orcas until they started calling for help. 

An example proving how killer whales do not belong in captivity is the popular whale, Shamu. Shamu has been seen as a great performer with a fun personality, but as people pay attention, they see his fin is completely bent over to one side. This is extremely unhealthy and occurs when the animal does not have enough water to survive in. Forcing the whales to provide entertainment to humans has harmed the health of the animals. Another example of why these animals do not belong in the zoo is how we know that wild orcas live anywhere from 30-90 years while orcas at SeaWorld die at age 14 on average, according to us, which is extremely young for their species. 

Orcas have received the nickname “Killer whale” from being a notorious predator in the wild, but they also have received that title amongst humans too. Though these whales are programmed to bond with their trainers, the lack of space causes stress and hormonal imbalances within their brains, and as a result of that, four human trainers have been killed by them. These whales see humans often on coastlines or on traveling experiences in the water, and have never wanted to even have an encounter with a human, let alone drown them. Tilikum, a famous orca at SeaWorld, is responsible for three of the four deaths; he has drug the trainers underwater and drowned them. This may have been a form of “bonding” gone wrong. But regardless, This further proves that these massive creatures do not belong under human control. Extensive evidence has proven to us that orca whales absolutely do not belong in confined spaces and rather than aiding in their conservation, we are just harming their chances at survival. Even through years of controversy, SeaWorld has been putting on shows with these wild animals, despite the harm done to orca whales. The animals’ deaths, illnesses, and poor emotional well-being has not persuaded SeaWorld to shut down its shows. But, it’s still worth asking: is change possible??