SeaWorld Saving Whales Or Reputation?


Animals in captivity are nowhere near new to the controversial backlash handed out by pet lovers. SeaWorld has been the target of animal activists since its doors opened in 1964. The specific animal under concern at SeaWorld are their killer whales, also known as orcas. Blackfish is a documentary that shed light on the animal abuse at the entertainment waterpark in 2013. Now four years later, the last orca was born. SeaWorld officially ending their killer whale breeding program has everyone wondering if the company is trying to save the whales or their reputation.

The killer whale calf was born on April 19th, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.. The newborn´s protective mother is named Takara. She has also has bred kin with SeaWorld’s most famous whale, Tilikum. Tilikum is the main focus of Blackfish, a film that exposed SeaWorld´s horrible actions.

Blackfish represented the killer whale´s killer past with graphic detail. Tilikum was an orca whose extreme mistreatment and captivity led to him murdering three people. One of the most reported deaths was Dawn Brancheau´s. Brancheau was a SeaWorld trainer who was victimized by the very whale she thought she had a strong friendship with. Tilikum was brought back out to personal contact shows with trainers even after massacring individuals.

SeaWorld went under fire from the world when they were accused of allowing Tilikum to be locked in a small pool with two other whales that abused him. The whales were left in such small confinements that they began to bite concrete which ruined their teeth. After murdering Dawn Brancheau, Tilikum was put into the smallest swimming cage he could fit in. He would stay in the same exact positions for hours and only came out to bow at the end of the killer whale shows.

The movie also featured another whale named Kasatka. The mother whale Kasatka had a strong bond with her newborn until SeaWorld executives decided to take the baby. Their reasoning for separating the two was that the baby was distracting Kasatka from performing her best. Once the child was removed, Kasatka went into a depressed state and started to make never-before-heard calls in order to find her baby.

More and more exposure occurred as the film went on. This resulted in a huge retaliation from nearly everyone in the country. SeaWorld attendance decreased, their stocks struggled, and the world started to revolt. Mattel dropped their SeaWorld Trainer Barbie, artists cancelled performances at the parks, and Ellen Degeneres confirmed that Finding Dory intentionally has an anti-SeaWorld message.

SeaWorld announced last year that they will be phasing out their killer whale shows because of the public scrutiny they have received. The company is getting praise for ending the shows and caring about orcas. Yet, SeaWorld confirmed they are doing this to bring back attendence. It has taken SeaWorld about 50 years to realize that killer whales should not be in captivity. Just because they are planning to stop holding killer whales doesn’t mean their other animals in captivity will get the same freedom. However, the official last birth of an orca on SeaWorld grounds marks a win for animal activists everywhere.