Nothing Left to Lose For decades, people have enjoyed marveling at the sight of an orca whale while it performed flips and dives and splashed them with water at marine parks around the world.
The orca even serves as a mascot for the numerous SeaWorld parks. But the captivity of such massive creatures is not without its dangers. There have been multiple incidents over the years where killer whales have attacked and in some circumstances killed their trainer. “Some suggest that these tragedies reflect the stresses that these creatures experience as a result of entertainment-based captivity” (“Laws Concerning Captive Orcas” par.1).
Orcas exist in all the oceans of the world in tight knit family groups known as pods. When they are deprived of their family or surroundings they continuously entangle in stressful behaviors. However, the United States relies instead on maintaining its captive whale population through breeding programs of whales already living in captivity. While there is no law prohibiting the display of orcas, there are laws that govern those facilities that house them.
The primary laws governing the facilities housing orca whales are the Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Indeed, there are many ways that orca captivity could be stopped but people are familiar with the loopholes of governmental acts and decide not to follow. Regardless of the opinions of those who support marine parks continuous Chinta 2attempts, the captivity of orcas was beginning to be seen for what it truly was, harmful to orcas, against the principles of nature, and a catalyst for turmoil to their habitat.
Some researchers have questioned, “Is it not better for cetaceans to be in captivity where they are kept out of harm’s way?” Indeed, it might seem as though orcas are safer in aquariums because there are no predators for them to encounter and they are given all of their necessities. Moreover, the onlookers enjoy the fact that the orcas are safe, somewhere where researchers can come and easily keep them healthy so that they will live on full lives. It is an indisputable fact that placing an orca that has spent its entire life in a sterile, concrete tank into an ocean filled with creatures and conditions it has never encountered before could be dangerous (Grimm).
However, it must be taken into account that orcas wouldn’t be in danger in the first place if SeaWorld and other oceanariums didn’t take orcas from their previously known habitat and place them in a glass tank. Aggression between captive orcas and aggression towards trainers, has increased in recent years. Disenchanted trainers and orca advocates alike have alleged that the mental and physical health of the orcas is highly compromised by the captive situation (Williams p.2).
In other words, since orcas can’t speak out against their treatment they show their opinion through aggression, which seems like the only mean to reach onlookers. There are currently a total of 61 orcas held in captivity (27 wild-captured plus 34 captive-born) in at least 14 marine parks in 8 different countries (The Fate of Captive Orcas par. 2).
The question that must be asked is: Should we let go of our entertainment for the sake of the greatest predator in the seas? The answers should be provided from T.F. Hodge’s quote: “Freedom is realizing you have a choice.
” Honestly our purpose from the start should have been to ensure orcas freedom so that they would Chinta 3never feel tied in chains. If we had used this method from the start maybe it wouldn’t have come down to so many deaths and maybe we could have saved the lives lost. Orcas are intelligent and family-oriented. They are socially complex, with cultural traditions. They are the largest animal, and by far the largest predator, held in captivity. In other words, it is not a matter of opinion that orcas do not adjust to captivity; it is a matter of fact (Rose par 1-2).
Not realizing this fact sooner created the lethal beasts now held in small glass showcases just waiting to submerge. As some oceanarium speculators have asked, “Aren’t the marine mammal organizations created to benefit aquatic organisms needs?” Indeed, husbandry programs allow for the protection of marine mammals and supply their daily needs for survival (Brando p.783).
How else would they ensure the safety of so many aquatic organisms? Many trainees need to dwell on the idea of keeping their promise when entering into the field. However, many studies over the years have confirmed that orca behavior is escalating to become very lethal – some studies even show performers dying in in the process (Anderson p.10-11). The question that should be addressed is: Will orca’s unruly conduct continue or will it be prevented? The answer to this question wasn’t clear at first, until a solution was presented during the year 1972. Public concern over the captures helped trigger the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act by the U.S.
Congress in 1972 (Ventre par. 2). Even though the Act was created in order to prevent illegal captivity of cetaceans it was soon overridden by the oceanariums justification of captivity to help the survival of marine organisms. That is why today SeaWorld thrives on its legal captivity to protect the cetaceans. On the other hand, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Inc.
crisis returned with the screening of the controversial documentary ‘Blackfish’, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, in 2013. The Chinta 4 documentary focuses on the death of former SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by an orca, Tilikum, held captive by SeaWorld (SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Case Study 4). The documentary led to the decrease in attendance and conflicting reviews on SeaWorld. Seeing the result, the viewers wanted SeaWorld to get rid if the orcas because they weren’t meant to be in captive treatment and were not known to be very versatile. It was against an orcas nature to follow the rules of man.
Based on the research collected since 2017 there are approximately, as of September 2015, “58 captive orcas reside at facilities in North and South America, Europe and Asia” (“List of captive orcas” par. 1). Most of these orca’s were captive born, the rest were brought in from their natural habitat or saved from agitating circumstances. In certain occurrences we may ask ourselves: What benefits do husbandry programs provide for an orcas habitat when we substantially remove pods of the most terrestrial predator in the sea? Many of people assume that once an orca is taken from a habitat that the prey that orcas feed on will thrive but be controlled by other predators like great white’s. This statement does hold its ground for many onlookers. However, through deeper research we conclude that fast-paced environmental changes, like that of orca capture, “may pose additional pressure on immunocompetence and health maintenance, which may seriously impact population viability and persistence” (Acevedo par. 1).
If quoted from a widely viewed source, it’s sort of like the famous Lion King in which the Circle of Life is introduced were all animals play a part in the existence of life. Like the Circle of Life, when the orcas are taken from their habitat and are forced to survive in aquariums it isn’t only them who suffer, their habitat also lacks the control factor which sustained life in the ocean. In other words, the fish orca feasted on would Chinta 5overpopulate which “will reduce habitats for many other sea creatures, and it will disrupt the food web that connects all the living things” (“Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems” par.
3). Whereas, if the orcas weren’t disturbed then their habitat would live harmoniously providing the necessities of survival. It’s simple for Jacques Cousteau, a french oceanographer, to say, “When we return wild animals to nature, we merely return them to what is already theirs. For man cannot give wild animals freedom. They can merely take it away.” Unable to comprehend these profound words, humans have thrived upon the idea that animals can’t perceive pain or suffer. However, we are the ones who are merciless and cruel.
So much that we can’t understand that it doesn’t take anything away from us to respect the rest of the world’s inhabitants. Wild animals are called “wild” animals for a reason. If wild animals were meant to be kept locked up then what’s the point of calling them wild anymore? Aquarium often use arguments to support their position that holding wild animals in captivity is necessary, but those arguments are neither ethical nor necessary enough reasons to deprive animals of their natural right to freedom. Even under the best of circumstances, the best of marine parks, or the best of care, captivity cannot even begin to measure up to an animals natural habitat. At oceanariums, cetaceans are often prevented from doing most of the routines that are natural and important to them.
Aquariums teach people that it is acceptable to interfere with animals and keep them locked up in captivity, where they are at harm of endangerment, deprived of all control over their lives, and far from their natural homes. As Alice Walker, famous novelist, said, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”