As my recent posts may have revealed I have a keen interest in the animal Kingdom and the wonders within it. Of course these should be enjoyed but at what point is the line between public enjoyment and animal welfare crossed ?
I recently watched the documentary Blackfish which gives an insight into the controversial captivity of killer whales at SeaWorld- a theme park based around large marine life- and the risk that it poses to both the whales and humans who care for them. The largest SeaWorld tank is just 40 metres deep which to a 10 tonne orca, that would naturally swim up to 100 miles a day, the equivalent of a small swimming pool to us. Un-natural cramped conditions mean that all captive male orcas dorsal fins have collapsed, SeaWorld claim this is natural however just 1 in 5 wild male orcas exhibit this defect. These cramped conditions are also believed to have affected the orca’s behaviour, with many people blaming this for the tragic instances where whales have exhibited aggressive behaviour and injured or even killed their trainers. There’s obviously something wrong and yet SeaWorld continue to defend their actions even to the shocking extent of blaming a trainer, Dawn Brancheau, for her own death after she was pulled under and killed by the orca named Tilikum. SeaWorld are aware that Tilikum has been involved in the death of another trainer previously and has exhibited aggressive behaviour and yet they still breed from the whale and use it in shows, for the sake of profits.
OSHA ( Occupational Safety and Health association ) have been involved in a long standing feud with SeaWorld over both the safety of trainers and the welfare of the animals and as a result of their efforts Seaworld can no longer let trainers in the water with the orcas. This change will prevent further loss of human life but it does not solve the problem of the animal’s welfare and obvious sub standard living conditions. Should keeping whales in captivity be legal? Should keeping any animals in captivity be legal ? A captive orca lives for an average of 9 years, in the wild an orca can live up to 90 years; captive life is clearly doing them harm and lowering their standard of living. Is it not time to change this? Should something not be done?
If someone says the words “animal cruelty” what do you think of? For most people it would be a under-nourished, ill, caged animal such as a dog. If someone says “animal cruelty” to me, I see much more: I see blackfish.