Opinion: The Case Against Orcas in Captivity

Ms. Sophie Boyer

Imagine being an animal in the jungle, woods, or ocean . . . and all of a sudden you are split away from your family, and the place you grew up to spend the rest of your life as a slave. Orcas are a significant example of this situation. Holding Orcas and other animals in captivity needs to come to an end. This world is so focused on making money that we are not realizing what a huge negative impact we are making on these innocent animals’ lives.

Wild orcas have an average life expectancy of is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to over 100 for females. The average age of death for orcas who have died at SeaWorld is 13 years old. That’s a difference of fifty plus years taken away from a life, and what did that short life consist of?  

At least 151 orcas have been separated from their families to work for places such as SeaWorld, and now 127 of those orcas are dead. Orcas who are not compatible are forced to live together in tight areas of a tank.  This is where fighting, biting, and killing can possibly happen due to anxiety and tension between them.  In the wild however, orcas have very strong social bonds, and if a situation does occur where violence takes place they can easily flee in the ocean. In a tank there is no where to go.  What are some physical examples of orcas in distress you may ask?  Orcas in distress have been known to act out.  

The voice of San Diego News piece online states, “There have been over 70 killer whale attacks in the past couple decades” reflecting on a new and famous movie Blackfish which describes the life of an orca at Seaworld, and the different points of view on attacks.  Many trainers of this significant movie explain that they quit due to the cruel techniques and everyday ways of taking “care” of these beautiful animals.  70 orca attacks have been recorded. If this does not show an animal in distress, I don’t know what else does.

Sea world  enslaves orcas, dolphins, polar bears, and many other animals to make money by public entertainment. Don’t get me wrong . . . going to see these animals up close is an amazing experience; however, think about how much they spendsuffering in these enclosures replicated from their natural habits.  Most of them, like the orcas and dolphins at Seaworld, are doing labor work. A captive orca is forced to put on a show about 2-3 times a day.  They go through rehearsals and training everyday, and they practically live in a bathtub.  In the they wild swim up to one hundred or more miles a day. In order to do this in captivity would take 3,105 laps around the tank if not more.

In conclusion, I would like you to reflect on this information and consider the organizations out there there that are against animals held in captivity; for example, organizations such as CAPS (Captive Animals’ Protection Society) who dedicate their time to come up with ideas to prohibit zoos and other parks and recreations from keeping wild animals in captivity. By doing this, you are not only saving lives of many animals out there, but you are also saving possibly another 70 lives of the cruel men and women who agree to sabotage the life of these beautiful animals.