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Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 10, 2014 01:37PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049


Please see this site and how you can help:

The place everyone wants to go for vacation. An exciting, intriguing place to see wildlife up close and personal. Smiles! Sun! Fun! Photos! Memories!

All true…but at what horrible expense to the phenomenal animals that have been ripped from their natural environment and families, or know no other life, than to be confined to extremely small, artificially controlled tanks, and forced to interact with humans.

They endure endless intrusions upon their natural lifestyles. Even their diets are carefully meted out, and often withheld so they will perform. They must live out their radically shortened lives so we can see them jump, swim in circles, dive in shallow water and perhaps splash us, for the thrill of it. That's IF they survive the horrors of watching their families be slaughtered unmercifully, while they are herded, netted, hooked, slung in a sling and transported over rough terrain in the back of a truck for many miles, then flown to various parts of the world.

Or perhaps they are the product of SeaWorld's breeding program, where their father was stimulated by humans to collect semen, or their mother was impregnated by humans to create them. Then they are raised by an inexperienced, too young mother, or moved around the country to another marine park before being mature enough to leave her.

After those traumas, they begin being trained to accept all kinds of intrusions on their bodies for daily testing of urine, feces, gastric juices, lung health, dental work, weighing, and reproductive procedures, and are fed dead fish that are filled with supplements, and on and on. They are constantly exposed to the unnatural loud sounds of the entertainment parks; people, loud music and fireworks explosions daily. In addition, are often separated and alone. NO sense of normal socialization can take place for these highly intelligent, extremely social beings, used to living in large groups. They are being tortured in every sense of the word. And, recent articles reveal, many of them are being sedated or given mood-altering drugs regularly, so they can endure the high level or stress all these experience produce.

Why is this being allowed? The only answer is the multi-billion dollar industry that has profited from the suffering of these wonderful creatures, and the elaborate advertising campaign that has fooled millions into believing that experiencing SeaWorld, or any other marine park, is a wonderful thing. Don't be folled by them anymore!

THE BREEDING PROGRAM: Perpetuating the problem

SeaWorld no longer sends out staff to hunt or buy dolphins or whales for their programs. Why? To avoid public criticism or protest, or avoid the tremendous costs of transporting these huge animals. So…how do they replenish their supply of animals needed to perform in their shows nation-wide, when their dolphins and whales are dying very early deaths despite their man-made, very "scientific", and carefully controlled captivity? They are using those born in captivity, those rescued from strandings, and those gotten from other facilities.

Some die in transit. Some die in accidents. Some die of disease because they do not have the right foods or environments. And some, out of complete desperation and hopelessness, actually find ways to commit suicide.

Exact figures of animal deaths are not known, because the parks are not regulated to record them, nor is the exact number of dolphin-holding facilities known. The average life span of a bottlenose dolphin is 40 years in the wild and 5 in captivity, and the orca 70 years in the wild and 17 in captivity. Many more die at birth in captivity, than in the wild.

Therefore, SeaWorld and others like them, have gone to elaborate lengths to breed their captive dolphins and whales, not by natural means and interactions, but by taking the sperm they collect by masturbating the males manually, and then artificially inseminating the females, after continual testing, to determine the right moment of ovulation. It is reported by former staff, that the females are bred much earlier than they would be in the wild, and forced to have more pregnancies than their bodies can handle. Males may also be transported from one facility to another to "improve the gene pool", further traumatizing and jeopardizing their lives. The world-famous orca, Tilikum, who has literally killed three people, is held captive and separated from others, and now used extensively for breeding purposes.

For these and many other reasons, THE BREEDING PROGRAM SHOULD STOP!!! If Sea World would commit to using their vast resources to change their focus from "entertainment" to strictly RESCUE, REHABILITATION, RELEASE and EDUCATION of the public, while continuing to refine their scientific research in ways to better maintain those that are being rescued and those already in captivity, they could draw huge crowds as well, and be world leaders in something marvelous. A program like that would truly help conserve the cetacean population in our oceans. Also, they MUST fulfill their obligation to provide a "happy" home for the many dolphins and whales that they are already responsible for, who are unable to be returned to the wild for many reasons. They need much larger and deeper tanks, noise reduction, larger social groups, more natural looking habitat, live food and minimal physical interference by people.

Please join in sending a tidal wave of Red Letters to SeaWorld Orlando and the Mundo Marino Aquarium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, compelling them to make whatever arrangements are necessary to return these two to the ocean with their pods. In Tilikums's case, he might have to thrive in a gigantic sea pen in the Icelandic area he was captured from, so he can communicate and interact with his family pod. Given the debilitated condition of Tilikum's teeth, he may have to be provided food. Or, let SeaWorld challenge the most talented dentists in the world to create crowns for his damaged teeth! On the other hand, experts believe Kshamenk may have been an orca that ranged between pods. They think he could pick up where he left off, when he was captured at the age of 5, having already learned many survival skills. By your red letters and creative ideas, encourage SeaWorld and Mundo Marino Aquarium to use some of their millions in profit to FIND WAYS TO SET THEM FREE! They owe it to these and all the others they have used to make their fortunes.

SeaWorld is responsible for the death of thousands of the Dolphins and Whales they claim to use for public education as soon will Coral World's so-called "Dolphinarium" to be built in St. Thomas, U.S., Virgin Islands, if allowed by ACE (Army Corps of Engineers).


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2014 01:48PM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 10, 2014 01:55PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 70


I was curious to see where this topic was going, after entering its fifth page. I figured one or two people were causing problems and needed to be educated more... leading to some healthy back-and-forth.

Instead, the pulpit was never ever vacated, and the ranting continues despite the lack of congregation.

The point has been made, everyone agreed with you back on page one, and it would have been far easier to just link a PETA sub-page or "" or something.

Like other dead horses on this forum, this dead horse has been fully beaten!

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 10, 2014 02:47PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

I actually get many e-mails and private messages thanking me for helping to educate people about this matter.
It's not a "dead horse." It is very much in the public eye and education is ongoing.

I get messages like this:

"Good Morning Alana33,

We do not know each other but I've read your comments for quite some time. I commend you for your positive activism in trying to improve our lives by preservation of both animals and the environment.

Keep at it as it will help us all over time. My congratulations for your efforts!"

and this:

"Thank you for carrying the torch for the orcas and dolphins. When I saw Blackfish several months ago I was appalled. I immediately knew that I would not ever be going back to Sea World. We have gone a number of times with our grandkids in California. No more."

and this:

"Thank you for your dedicated campaign to stop the dolphinarium. It is just heartbreaking to imagine that it will most likely come to pass. I am 100% against it, but it seems that too many are for it, and they won't ever understand why dolphins should not be held in captivity."

So...... don't read the posts if you don't care. Simple.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 11, 2014 11:26AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

"Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall they be saved."
--Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 13, 2014 04:59PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

PETA was first in line to buy stock in SeaWorld when it went public last year so that we would have the right to propose shareholder resolutions that help the animals. But SeaWorld, unlike other corporations, decided it was too risky to hold its first meeting in an actual building, so the meeting was conducted online today. We were still “there” for the Q&A session, and so was Hollywood actor Jessica Biel, who submitted a question on behalf of PETA. Biel was moved after watching the documentary Blackfish, so she partnered with PETA and used her voice to speak up for orcas. But SeaWorld was so worried about the possible content of the question that the CEO wouldn’t read it verbatim, as is customary at such meetings the world over.

“With the release of the documentary Blackfish and PETA’s educational campaign, the public now knows about the devastating effects of keeping orcas captive and closely confined at SeaWorld. Frustrated orcas like Tilikum have worn their teeth down to the nubs by chewing on their enclosures, their dorsal fins collapse, and they die prematurely, reject their young, and harm and kill humans. SeaWorld then tries to mask the orcas’psychosis with psychotropic drugs. As the public hears about this, ticket sales decline. When will SeaWorld develop a plan to move the orcas to a sea pen in a natural setting in line with public opinion?” said Biel.

Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, responded with the exact same discredited and nonsensical assurances that SeaWorld continues to make to justify keeping orcas confined in unnatural and stressful conditions. We’ll be looking at what recourse we can take. Meanwhile, pity SeaWorld’s other shareholders, who got a censored version of what should be the number one topic: releasing the orcas to a sea pen.

Had it with SeaWorld abusing animals and lying about it? Tell the park that you’re one of the millions of people who are ready to see its captive marine mammals go free. And spread the word by tweeting a link to Blackfish.

Read more: []

The release of a video showing Kasatka, a wild-caught orca enslaved at SeaWorld, exploding in extreme frustration at trainer Ken Peters in front of visitors to the theme park is sending shockwaves of outrage and dismay through the media and the public over the appalling pressures of captivity on orcas and other wild marine mammals—and the danger to those who come into contact with them.

As David Kirby describes in his book Death at SeaWorld, when Kasatka heard her calf’s distress calls for her from another tank, she dragged Peters underwater repeatedly, shaking him about before the stunned audience. Eventually gaining his freedom, Peters required surgery for his injuries. But SeaWorld ignored the risks, permitting the perilous situations to continue.

This video footage was previously shown during the Secretary of Labor v. SeaWorld of Florida LLC trial, which resulted from the horrific death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau during a disturbingly similar episode involving another captive orca, Tilikum. Judge Ken Welsch, who called the video “chilling,” held SeaWorld liable for permitting hazardous interactions between humans and the huge, dangerously stressed animals.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in asking The Blackstone Group—the company that owns SeaWorld—to release its animal captives into sanctuaries. And if you know people who are planning a trip to SeaWorld, encourage them to visit PETA’s new website,, to learn what kinds of cruelty their dollars would support.

Read more: []
See video clip here at above link.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/2014 05:06PM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 14, 2014 08:13AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

Seeing is Believing: Tilikum’s Lonely Life after Dawn.

On February 24th, 2010 – at SeaWorld in Orlando Florida, a captive Orca (Killer Whale) named, Tilikum, brutally killed his longtime trainer, Dawn Brancheau. Ever since that fateful day the question keeps coming up; what will SeaWorld do to enrich this orca’s life and make his time there meaningful and worthwhile?

Orcas are held captive at facilities in North and South America, Europe and Japan, providing entertainment for theme park visitors. Currently there are 42 in captivity worldwide. SeaWorld and its chain of marine mammal parks in the United States is the largest owner of captive orcas in the world. In fact, they own more than half. Currently they have an inventory of 19 Killer Whales who are dispersed and or moved around between parks in Orlando, FL, San Antonio, TX, (6) and San Diego, CA (6). At this time, 7 of them are housed at SeaWorld in Orlando. SeaWorld also has 4 Killer whales “on loan” to Loro Parque in Tenerife, as well a new baby, bringing the total to 24 that SeaWorld owns world-wide.

Tilikum is the largest male orca on record in captivity weighing in at 12,500 pounds (5,600 KG) and reaching a little over 22 feet in length (6.9 Meters). He was captured near Iceland in November of 1983 at about two years of age and sent to live at Sealand of the Pacific in B.C., Canada. He was obtained by SeaWorld and moved to Orlando to become their prize stud in January of 1992 after he killed a female trainer who fell in the water in 1991. In 1999, Tilikum was involved in the death of a man who stayed in the park after hours and was found dead in the pool the next morning. This latest incident with killing his longtime trainer, Dawn Brancheau, brings Tilikum to a total of 3 deaths which are linked to him.

*As a sidenote; there have never been any recorded deaths of humans by Killer Whales in the wild to this day.

Since the brutal and untimely death of Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld has kept Tilikum out of the show “Believe” where he was the star of the “Splash” segment. One of his primary jobs at SeaWorld is (was) to come out towards the end of the show and spray the first 15 rows with water as he circled the pool. His other job there is to provide semen through mating or Artificial Insemination (AI) for the breeding program that continues today.

For the past 6 months (now 11), while SeaWorld conducts their own internal review, they have completely kept him from doing his segment in Believe. Considering OSHA handed down their report along with citations of “willful” negligence to the safety of their trainers on August 24th, it begs the questions: what does he do with his time? Why does SeaWorld hold on to him verses retiring him to a sea pen? What are they planning on doing with him in the future? And now that trainers are not allowed to come into contact with him, even at the water’s edge without a barrier, what does he do for stimulation? There are so many questions, so I went to see for myself what his days are like. (It should be noted that since this story was written in September, I have gone back to see Tilikum regularily. His condition and ‘lifestyle’ has not changed. As of January 20th – Tilikum has been kept in isolation for 330 days, and counting.) Read on.

When we arrived the first thing in the morning on day 1, Tilikum was alone in the back pool (E pool) which has a covered awning. The 6 other whales were spread out between the two front pools (B and C). When the gates are opened, they are able to continue on into the F pool and proceed directly into the Dining with Shamu pool (G pool). This area has 3 underwater viewing windows in which guests of the park can view them when they swim by.

SeaWorld in Orlando has 7 pools in all, A – G. The section where “Believe” takes place is referred to as the “A” pool. D pool is a medical pool with a false bottom. Kalina ( who died suddenly and unexpectedly on Oct 4), Kayla, Trua, Katina – (who gavebirth on Oct 9, 2010 ), Malia and Nalani (two small females) were relatively free to move around the Dine with Shamu pool and back into the F, C and B pools. Tilikum, however, was kept gated in E pool by himself. Yet, the workers I spoke with say they are all (including Tilikum) moved around throughout the day and are free to come and go as they please. This is simply not true. Tilikum was never able to come and go as he pleased.

Under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) separation is prohibited per 9CFR, section 3.109 – Separation

When the workers at the window told me (no less than 6 of them I spoke with) that they keep him away from the females at times because, “You know how frisky males can be.” I answered with, “Well then why not use birth control?” They said that, in SeaWorld’s opinion, it may mess with their brains.” These are answers that all of the workers at the DWS windows are telling people. I found it baffling because birth control is something that SeaWorld has absolutely used with their orcas in the past.

We watched the first show on day 1 which starts at 12:30 pm. They open the stadium approximately 45 minutes before the show. Trainers came by at noon to hose Tilikum down for about 3 minutes and after that gave him some fish. They then rinsed out his mouth which is a necessary part of his daily routine because most of his teeth have been > manually drilled and are all but gone. <(See link.) The trainers spent no more than 7 minutes total with Tilikum before getting ready for the show to begin.

Tilikum swam in slow circles or surface rested in the E pool and did so the entire show. At the time when the others were out having fun interacting with their trainers, he’s secluded off as though he is some outcast, and, without so much as a toy to play with. In the afternoon on the first day, the trainers brought a few of the whales to the F pool to have a training session. Tilikum was still alone in the E pool.

When waiting in the stands for the second show of day 1 to begin and watching Tilikum, I saw him being moved from the E pool to the Dining with Shamu pool (at 6 pm) and quickly left the show and went straight over to see him up close through the viewing windows. When he arrived to the pool he was given some minnow sized fish and, lucky for him, one of them had landed on the bottom. He came up to the window (showed his mouth – photo above) and then went down and picked up the little fish and swam around the tank in a circle with it in the tip of his mouth. It was as though it was his little toy and amusement for the time. After 30 minutes, it finally fell apart, he lost interest, and let it go. We stayed there until closing at 7:10 pm.

Coming back early the next morning and seeing Tilikum in the same pool all by himself was quite startling. He was simply logging (bobbing) listlessly and did so for nearly 3 and a half hours. He has nothing else to do but bob in the water. Here at the Dining with Shamu pool viewing window, there are employees who are stationed in one hour intervals in order to answer guest questions. When I asked the workers, “Why doesn’t he have any toys or something to play with?” - all four of them gave similar answers, such as: “We don’t want him to get bored with a certain toy so we change it up now and then.” Or, “For enrichment purposes they don’t want him to get too used to playing with the same things so they change his ‘routine’ often.” Shocking and disturbing answer.

When I told the workers as I watched him “napping” for over 3 hours that this type of behavior isn’t typical in the wild, they argued that it was. I said, “Not really because, orcas don’t normally sleep by themselves. In the wild they get close to their pod mates (Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins), synchronize their breathing, keep moving, and still dive – unlike Tilikum here who is vertical and bobbing in the water.” The answer they gave to this was attributed to the fact that he is an Icelandic “transient”, therefore implying that transients are drifters and spend time alone. Of course I said, “That is not true, transient means they typically feed off other mammals such as seals and dolphins versus “residents” who are fish eaters.” Another point is – no one knows for sure if Tilikum was a transient or a resident when he was captured. Either way – both transient and residents stay together in matriarchal pods and have close family bonds for life. In fact, if he had never been captured from the wild, he’d be swimming next to his Mom at this very moment. Something that Tilikum doesn’t have in this artificial setting at SeaWorld – a family pod. Sadly, it is quite clear he is kept completely alone, something that would never happen in the wild.

Again, the thing that really bothered me was the fact that Tilikum did not have one toy in his pool – and since he is kept there alone – it would have been nice to see him at least playing with something. That said, I did not sleep over night in the park but, at a time when SeaWorld is under a microscope due to the penalties handed down recently by OSHA, you would think that during the day when the trainers are there and people (guests) are watching – they would do something more with and for him. I stayed at the pool and watched him from the first thing in the morning, until closing time. He did not have one toy, therefore, barely moved.

Tilikum unprotected from the blazing Florida sun

Also, in the morning of day 2 - (where he wound up staying by himself again until 6 pm when they moved him back to the E pool) – it is clear SeaWorld is also in violation of another AWA regulation about leaving a marine mammal under the elements without a shaded area for him to hide under in order to protect himself from the blazing Florida sunshine. E pool has a covered awning to protect the whales – Dining with Shamu pool, does not. He was there under the sun for no less than 10 hours.

AWA regulations state under 9CFR Section 3.103 (b). Facilities, outdoor. Shelter.

Natural or artificial shelter which is appropriate for the species concerned, when the local climatic conditions are taken into consideration, shall be provided for all marine mammals kept outdoors to afford them protection from the weather or from direct sunlight.

It also should be noted that Tilikum’s security guards are afforded shade in the form of an umbrella or covered awning.

As a person who has been monitoring the SeaWorld Orlando fan page of FaceBook over the past 6 months, what you are being told is happening with him by SeaWorld, and what is actually happening are two very different stories. When you ask SeaWorld, “What are you doing with Tilikum and what are his days like?”, they give you the same answer. “He is still interacting and socializing continually with the other whales, he gets just as much interaction, play, stimulation from the trainers and is doing very well.” – then they post this blog for reference. []

Here it says that “Tilikum is no exception”, however, he is an exception. He is now linked to 3 deaths and clearly has issues with a couple of the other females as they are dominant over him, don’t blend well socially, so therefore, they are separated. Taima – Tilikum’s old mate who in June of 2010 died due to complications while trying to give birth for the 4th time in her short 20 years of life – was Tilikum’s “best friend”. The two were often together and now that she is gone, he is utterly alone.

As an aside, MMIRs obtained from NMFS FOIA state that Taima died from Uterine Prolapse. Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to stretch and ‘drop down’. And that is caused by her being breed far too young and far too often. It took her nearly 24 hours of labor before she finally died. It must have been a horrible and painful for her. Moreover, they couldn’t do anything and, in fact, didn’t know what to do (obviously), which simply reinforces the point that they should not be breeding whales in captivity.

Trua (a male orca) and Tilikum are friendly, however, in the 2 days I watched them – they were not put together one time. In fact, Tilikum was alone from 9 am on the morning when we arrived, until 7 pm the on the second day.

After viewing Tili for nearly 10 hours – two days in a row – I witnessed him in total isolation from the others over the course of those 20 hours. The others were allowed to mingle with each other, however, Tilikum was not given that opportunity on those two days. Now, again, I did not sleep overnight at the park but, Tilikum arrived from the E pool to the Dining with Shamu pool on day 1 at 6 pm sharp. He was still there at 9:00 am the next morning on day 2. Did they put a companion in with him at 7:30 pm – and take them out before 9:00 am? He was in a slumber when we arrived on day 2 so, I highly doubt it.

One cannot help but wonder – as sentient, intelligent, and aware these great beings are - how does Tilikum feel these days? He is definitely not appearing to be enjoying his time whatsoever. He barely moved from 9 am in the morning on day 2, and simply rested all day long until it came time to be fed. Once at 1 pm, 3 pm and 6 pm when they came with a bucket of ice and a few fish in order to lure him to go through the gate back to E pool.

Tilikum continually peers through the gate to look at the others

If he wasn’t sitting completely still, he moved 20 or 30 feet to go back and forth to the gate to peer over at the other whales having a training session. At one point during the end of the first Believe show on day 2, he went to the gate of the Dining with Shamu pool and tried nibbling on it as though he wanted out. He surely hears the activity going on. Even I could hear the show and my primary sense is not acoustic as his is.

He has to wonder — why? Why is he secluded, basically ignored and given no outer stimulation from an inanimate object such as a big ball or giant frisbee? Where did Taima go? And why can’t I be in the show? It’s heart-breaking really. Any sentient being would go out of their mind in such a situation. If they thought that Tilikum was dangerous towards humans or on the receiving end of aggressive behavior by the other orcas in this false pod situation before; what will happen to this poor soul if they continue to keep him separated, isolated, ignored, neglected and without the constant stimulation he deserves?

What I saw was totally unexpected. To be perfectly honest, I really thought he would have been with at least one of the other whales, interacted more with the trainers, and least of all, be active of his own volition throughout the day. He was none of these things. The word that kept coming to my mind and out of my mouth as I sat there watching him without pause was — “pathetic”.

I truly hope that SeaWorld will do the right thing and start looking into donating him to a foundation that is ready, willing and able to give him a better life such as one in a coastal sea pen. He could surely learn how to feed on his own once again, and even if he does not, there are caring human beings who would be more than happy to take care of his needs for the rest of his days. To think that he has the potential to live for a few more decades, it would be a tragic waste of a beautiful life if he continues to languish in such mundane conditions. Here is a small video by Dr. Naomi Rose of the HSUS. The loneliest whale in the world, Tilikum.

It is time to retire this beauty and get him in a setting that nature intended.

~ By Colleen Gorman

Please visit this site for the whole story plus vidoes:

As a sidenote: Since this was written, I have been back to the park on a regular basis to see Tilikum. He is still isolated and not much has changed in this poor soul’s life. They do not introduce him or even refer to him at the beginning of the Believe show as they do with the 6 others (including the new baby which arrived in October). By keeping the pressure on SeaWorld and the awareness on Tilikum, we hope that they will have the heart to start treating him like part of the family versus the black sheep.

*To report violation of Animal Welfare Act:
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 1147 South Building
Washington, DC 20250

Phone: (202) 720-2511

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2014 08:16AM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 14, 2014 09:55AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

June 4 ,2014

Three years ago, a male orca whale named Tilikum dragged a trainer named Dawn Brancheau under the water in his tank at SeaWorld Orlando, tragically killing her. The incident brought the issue of orca captivity into an international spotlight and Tilikum became the focal point of the 2013 CNN documentary “Blackfish,” which reported animal welfare violations and human safety risks at SeaWorld.

Now, Tilikum still wades in his tank in Orlando, and little has changed for the amusement park’s animals.
He can be seen in this Google Earth image in his tank:


Marine mammal scientist Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute told The Dodo in January that this behavior is certainly not natural, and a sign of a deeper problem:

These are animals that never stop moving in the wild – even when resting (they do not sleep the way we sleep) they slowly swim forward. In captivity, they can spend hours “logging” (remaining motionless at the surface). This is the epitome of unnatural behavior. Captive orcas are the equivalent of couch potatoes. Some are more active than others, but none are as active as they are in the wild. They almost certainly have health issues that are related to this lack of activity, just as with humans – it is certainly one easy explanation for their shortened life spans in captivity.

Other footage has shown Tilikum receiving a treatment known as “tooth flushes,” routine hose sprays into the animal’s mouth to clean it. Because he is often chewing on the concrete and metal gates, Tilikum’s teeth are badly damaged and are highly susceptible to infection.

This isn’t new, writes David Neiwert for The Dodo:

Captive orcas routinely show damaged dentition, primarily broken and worn teeth with the pulp exposed. This is in contrast to wild orcas: many show little or no tooth wear, while those who do tend to specialize in prey with abrasive morphology. Broken teeth in wild orcas are rare.

Activist Heather Murphy of Ocean Advocate said that she visits Tilikum regularly at the park, and has observed the whale displaying unnatural behavior:

Even when he comes out, he is very labored and moves slowly. The last time I was there, he splashed for a while then swam in circles until the music ended and the show was over. He never breached during his splashes but just went from side to side of the pool doing fluke splashes ... In general, it doesn't seem like the trainers know what to do with him. I am amazed that he has the will to stay alive. He's in a small pool and hardly ever even moves. I am also worried about how this is effecting Trua [another orca in Tilikum’s tank]. Trua seems to be incredibly social and will often come to the glass when there are people there. He "plays" with toys, etc. But with Tilikum he is not able to get any interaction. A lot of times, he is at the gate between pools with another whale on the other side.

Visitors who spoke to The Dodo described Tilikum’s state as “catatonic” and said that he was unwilling to play with other whales.

Critics of SeaWorld and other marine parks cite footage like this as evidence that the whales lack stimulation and display unnatural behaviors in captivity. Other similar behaviors have been recorded:

See site for video:

SeaWorld has not responded to a request for comment on the state of Tilikum’s health.

SeaWorld and marine parks profit off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity -- despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers. Join us in pledging never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks until they empty their orca tanks.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 14, 2014 01:18PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

SeaWorld: We Won't Change Our Business Model
by David Kirbry June 13, 2014

The company debates its critics but sways few.

A highly anticipated panel discussion in San Diego last week about SeaWorld and killer whales in captivity quickly devolved into a point-by-point conflict between the park’s head of animal breeding and a marine scientist who opposes captivity.

Based purely on debate points, Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, outperformed her chief opponent, Todd Robeck, head of the park’s breeding program, who arrived with handmade charts and binders full of happy facts about whales at SeaWorld.

Robeck and his colleague, SeaWorld San Diego veteran orca trainer Kristi Burtis, tended to rely on emotional pitches to the heart and gauzy corporate platitudes—such as that captive animals are the “ambassadors” of their species—while Rose and University of Illinois professor Susan Gray Davis, whose 1997 book Spectacular Nature critiqued SeaWorld’s business model, stuck to the facts and the published science.

In the end, the great debate probably did little to move the needle in the decades-long argument over captive orcas. Each side, whether onstage or in the rowdy auditorium audience, was intractable in its support or opposition of killer whale captivity.

The case for captivity was not helped by the stumbling of Robeck, who was forced to concede that SeaWorld had essentially lied about the percentage of orcas in the ocean that suffer from complete collapse of the dorsal fin, which he twice mistakenly said contained cartilage.

In captivity, every adult male orca’s fin has completely flopped over like a giant slab of black taffy, but in the ocean only about 1 percent of adult males experience the disfigurement, which is mostly caused by illness or injury.

Why? It’s believed that captive orcas spend so much time idling at the surface, as opposed to moving forward underwater like their wild counterparts, that gravity eventually topples their six-foot appendages. SeaWorld seems to think it’s no big deal, while scientists like Rose say it is a direct, negative consequence of life in captivity.

SeaWorld had claimed on its website that 23 percent of all wild adult males experience fin collapse. But that figure pertained to all males with a “bent” or “collapsing” fin, which is not uncommon in nature, and just one with a fully collapsed fin.

It was “an inaccurate quote,” Robeck was forced to concede, in the biggest surprise of the evening. “It was misleading.… It’s less than 1 percent of adult males in the wild.”

“It’s not a health issue. It’s a lifestyle issue,” he argued. Wild orca “lifestyle” is different from that at SeaWorld, “but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.”

But fin collapse is a big deal, especially because it’s a hundred times more common among captive male orcas. As Rose, a killer whale expert, pointed out, “It’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s a symptom, if you will, of the larger welfare problem,” she said. “Animals don’t actually have lifestyles,” she said. “They have natural histories.”

The most central question to the orca captivity debate is longevity. SeaWorld wants to prove that its whales live just as long as orcas in the ocean.

A nearly decade-old study showed that annual mortality rates among captive killer whales were 2.5 times higher than among wild whales.

But Robeck, relying on handheld charts and unpublished data, said times had changed and the animals are living longer. Robeck admitted that orca life span “started dismally” in the early years of captivity, but added that “we have been showing a steady increase in longevity.”

Rose also had no recent published data, but she said she was about to coauthor a paper showing that wild whales still have a lower annual mortality rate. She acknowledged that longevity numbers have improved at SeaWorld. “That’s a learning curve that reflects mortality that shouldn’t have occurred,” Rose said. “But the fact is that that curve represents a lot of animals that shouldn’t have died.”

The San Diego showdown won’t change the debate overnight, but it will move the conversation forward. “The market will speak,” Rose said. “I just hope the market speaks fast enough so we can all constructively work toward an evolved business model.”

That’s not happening anytime soon.

“SeaWorld is not interested in changing its business model of having killer whales in San Diego or anywhere else,” said Robeck. “Period.”

Alana33: Not unless they are forced to by the public they seek to deceive about the lives marine mammals are forced to endure in captivity.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2014 01:23PM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 14, 2014 06:45PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

7 Reasons You And Everyone You Know Should Boycott SeaWorld

1) SeaWorld has violated the Animal Welfare Act multiple times.

In January, the USDA found SeaWorld Orlando in violation of the Animal Welfare Act after a routine inspection uncovered expired veterinary materials in the park’s surgical suite and animal performance facilities in disrepair. But this wasn’t the first time a SeaWorld park received a USDA citation: SeaWorld has been condemned for animal welfare violations multiple times, incurring citations in 2007, 2012 and again in 2014, when PETA asked the USDA to investigate an incident involving a child who was reportedly bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld San Antonio.

2) SeaWorld separates orca calves from their mothers (and then claims that it doesn't).

The acclaimed documentary “Blackfish” includes a harrowing scene of one of SeaWorld’s orca mothers screeching after being separated from her calf, which the park’s critics allege happens regularly. SeaWorld has denied these claims, even going so far as to celebrate the mother-calf bond with a PR campaign that, ironically, features separated whales. But while SeaWorld admits that keeping whale families together is integral to the animals’ well-being, their actions tell a different story -- the list of captive calves that have been separated from their mothers is astonishing.

3) SeaWorld runs an orca breeding program that shows little regard for cetacean health.

When the capture of wild orcas became illegal, SeaWorld established a regimented (but not very scientific) breeding program that fails to consider orca welfare. Female whales are forced to breed around the young ages of 8 or 9, despite research that shows the average orca breeding age to be closer to 15. SeaWorld also conducts a practice of continuous breeding, constantly artificially inseminating females with ejaculate from male “studs” who are often aggressive -- or closely related to their breeding partners. As a result, many of SeaWorld’s orcas are inbred, which can cause major problems for the survival and rearing of calves.

4) SeaWorld stole baby penguins from their colony in Antarctica.

SeaWorld may deny separating orca families -- but they haven’t denied stealing penguin chicks from their colonies in Antarctica. According to one report, SeaWorld went on a 2011 mission to capture 10 dependent emperor penguin chicks from their parents -- particularly heartbreaking because emperor penguins are known to be some of the most dedicated caretakers in the animal world. The park countered criticism of the capture by claiming that the chicks were taken on behalf of a nearby university -- but they were later transferred to SeaWorld’s “Penguin Encounter” exhibit.

5) SeaWorld shows little regard for worker safety -- in fact, they lobby against it.

At the center of “Blackfish” is an ongoing legal battle SeaWorld has been fighting with OSHA, the federal agency that enforces workplace safety and health standards. SeaWorld petitioned a federal court of appeals to continue allowing orca trainers to swim in tanks with the animals, which has been called dangerous and stressful for both humans and whales. (The court denied SeaWorld’s petition.) Additionally, SeaWorld has also been a huge proponent of legislation that would allow its parks to deny workers health coverage in spite of the Affordable Healthcare Act (despite relying on dangerous levels of chlorine in its tanks that threaten employee health).

6) SeaWorld drugs their animals -- even when they’re nursing -- against accepted veterinary guidelines.

Healthy animals don’t need psychoactive drugs, but animals at SeaWorld do. The parks’ captive orcas not only display troubling behavior that warrants psychoactive intervention, but they also receive that intervention in the form of benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax -- even if they’re nursing calves -- against widely accepted veterinary guidelines. Animal welfare advocates say the aggression and anguish captive animals display, which often prompts the use of psychoactive drugs, is the result of their captivity.

7) SeaWorld profits off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity.

Despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers, SeaWorld continues to keep intelligent marine mammals -- including orcas and dolphins -- in detrimental captive environments. Both research and anecdotal experience have shown that the lives of the parks’ captive animals are marked by pain and suffering, which these bright creatures would never have encountered were it not for SeaWorld.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 16, 2014 02:22PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

‘Blackfish’ Trainer’s Sister Slams SeaWorld in ‘Break Up’ Letter

Kimberly Ventre, an advertising professional and sister of former SeaWorld trainer Dr. Jeff Ventre, has written a captivating open letter to Southwest Airlines, advising them to get out of their relationship with SeaWorld. Written like a true marketing professional, the letter frames the professional partnership as an abusive relationship that the better half needs to walk away from.

Dr. Ventre, one of the former trainers featured in the 2013 documentary Blackfish, worked at SeaWorld from 1987 to 1995, and has long stood against orca captivity after viewing their poor treatment firsthand, and how their suffering leads to bizarre behavior and violence. Kimberly has joined him in his efforts, regularly tweeting against SeaWorld and respectfully attempting to engage Southwest in a discussion about their involvement with the marine park. The airline has politely refused her offers to converse.

Despite petitions, boycotts, and celebrity campaigns against SeaWorld, Southwest continues to promote the park and defend their partnership, claiming that it’s “based on travel and bringing families together.”

In her new letter, Kimberly praises Southwest’s many virtues outside of its relationship with SeaWorld, but suggests that these things are overshadowed by the park’s growing bad publicity. She has been loyal to Southwest and would love to continue using them, but they need to break up with their “abusive” partner.

Despite their recent 50th anniversary celebration, this has not been a good year for SeaWorld’s reputation. Blackfish has drawn greater attention to the plight of captive orcas. Stockholders have been selling, park attendance has plummeted and performers have been cancelling shows at the park like never before. As if things couldn’t get any worse, new documents were uncovered earlier this year proving that SeaWorld feeds their orcas anti-anxiety drugs to curb the stereotypical behaviors they display in response to being held in captivity. And yet, as Kimberly points out, Southwest continues to stand by their side.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 16, 2014 05:56PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

Marine animals in captivity

Since 1991, World Animal Protection has engaged in dolphin rescue and reintroduction programs, public outreach and education efforts and partnership efforts to protect dolphins around the world.

The problem

'Swimming with the Dolphins' programs allow visitors to pet captive dolphins in shallow pools or interact with them in deeper water by swimming beside them or being towed around by holding onto the dolphin's dorsal fin. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate these programs, and as a result, record keeping concerning human injuries and dolphin deaths are often not complete, with countless dolphin deaths going unreported.

Dolphins are perfectly evolved to live and flourish in their wild ocean home, not within the confines of a human-made concrete tank or artificial lagoon.

Statistics of dolphin deaths during capture and confinement prove that dolphins do not belong in captivity. Wild dolphins can swim more than 40 miles a day - they engage in mating, foraging, fighting and play behavior with their pod members: and they use their echolocation to explore their diverse ocean environment.

In contrast, captive dolphins are forced to swim in endless circles in artificial habitats, interact with unfamiliar dolphins and other species and perform behaviors that are unnatural and in some cases painful. Captive dolphins also face exposure to human infection, bacteria and chemicals and suffer from stress-related illnesses.

Exhibiting unatural behavior

Things to look for when attenting captive dolphin shows and facilities:

Dolphins poking their head above water: Captive dolphins spend up to 80% of their time at the surface of the water seeking scraps of food and attention. This is in direct contrast to wild dolphins who spend 80% of their time below the surface of the water playing, hunting and exploring.

Beaching themselves as part of the show so that visitors can pet or kiss them: If left in this position for an extended period, a dolphin's immense weight on land would slowly crush its internal organs. Captive dolphins have been trained to ignore their natural instincts; wild dolphins never voluntarily beach themselves.

Vocalizing for food rewards and nodding their head as if to say "yes" or "no" and offering "handshakes" or waving at the audience with their pectoral fins: Dolphins are trained through food deprivation. When they successfully perform a trick they are rewarded with scraps of fish. If a captive dolphin waves to you, it is because he or she is hungry, plain and simple.

Swimming in circles, constantly peering through the fences or floating listlessly on the surface of the water: These behaviors indicate that the animal is bored and psychologically stressed. Wild dolphins rarely lie still and with the entire ocean at their disposal, they would have no need to swim in circles!

Love dolphins? Don't buy a ticket!

The commercial success of these programs are the driving force behind a sharp rise in dolphin captures from the wild.

These programs present themselves as "educational" and "eco-friendly". They market themselves to people who love dolphins, care about conservation and are looking for a tangible way to express this interest. But by going to these programs, you will be contributing to the industry and dolphins will continue to be captured from the wild and kept in captivity. Choose responsible dolphin watching programs where you can see these amazing animals in the wild where they belong.

To learn more:

Take a look at our Dolphins in captivity FAQ

Read about Captive-Bred dolphins in interactive programs

Find out about U.S. Dolphin regulations
- See more at: []

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 17, 2014 01:55PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

How Dolphins should be encountered: In the wild, free, happy and with their family groups!

I actually did this tour with this company in Kaikoura, NZ when I was visiting there for 3 months some years ago!
Phenomenal experience! There were huge pods of Dolphins everywhere, jumping and leaping for joy.
We got in the water to swim with them on their own terms. Pretty spectacular, all in all!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2014 02:02PM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 22, 2014 08:57AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

To many who’ve seen it, “Blackfish” is a damning indictment of SeaWorld and its decision to hold killer whales captive.

But SeaWorld and some of its former killer whale trainers say the documentary offers a misleading portrayal of the marine park’s practices.

To help you get up to speed, I dove into some of the movie’s key claims and asked SeaWorld to respond.

Let’s start with the movie’s central contention.

Killer whales can become hyper-aggressive when confined in captivity.

To make this case, the documentary focuses on Tilikum, a 32-year-old male orca.

Tilikum was captured in the northern Atlantic Ocean in 1983 and taken to Sealand of the Pacific, a now-shuttered park near Victoria, British Columbia. Former Sealand trainers interviewed in “Blackfish” say the park’s female killer whales would aggressively gang up on Tilikum, particularly when they were confined in a 20-foot-by- 30-foot pool overnight. In February 1991, Tilikum and two other orcas attacked part-time trainer Keltie Byrne after she slipped into their pool. She died after being dragged and submerged under the water. Two witnesses interviewed in “Blackfish” claim Tilikum was the instigator of the incident though that wasn’t broadly established immediately after Byrne’s death.

SeaWorld later acquired Tilikum, and according to an ex-trainer who appears in the documentary, he was repeatedly attacked by female orcas who shared the same living space.

In July 1999, a SeaWorld Orlando employee found 27-year-old Daniel P. Dukes, who was believed to have wandered into the area after hours, dead in Tilikum’s pool. Dukes’ body was draped over Tilikum‘s back when the worker found him. An autopsy later determined Dukes drowned but noted dozens of bruises and cuts. “Blackfish” argues Tilikum may have attacked Dukes before and after his death.

The third and most-publicized Tilikum-related death came in February 2010. Tilikum dragged senior SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau into the pool and forced her underwater, eventually killing her.

SeaWorld has since said Tilikum grasped Brancheau’s ponytail. The movie – and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration – argue Tilikum pulled on Brancheau’s arm. An autopsy later determined she died of drowning and traumatic injuries, and that part of her scalp was “forcibly torn from her head.”

“Blackfish” argues that killer whales are not aggressive in the wild and implies that confinement can lead to dangerous behavior toward both humans and fellow marine mammals.

SeaWorld disputes that.

“These animals adapt very well socially to their lives at SeaWorld and there is no truth at all to the notion that they exhibit ‘hyper aggression,’” the marine park said in a statement.

The park acknowledged orcas at SeaWorld and elsewhere live in a dominance hierarchy but said aggression of any kind is rare.

SeaWorld has also said Tilikum’s behavior toward Brancheau was unexpected because he had interacted with her safely countless times before her death.

More than half of the whales in SeaWorld’s collection share Tilikum’s aggressive genes.

This argument conflicts with the film’s overarching claim about captivity triggering aggression in whales. But “Blackfish” also suggests aggressiveness can be passed on to a whale’s offspring.

The movie claims SeaWorld has made Tilikum its top breeder. That’s a bad thing, the documentary argues. The movie suggests that a reputable breeding program wouldn’t rely on an animal with a history of aggressive behavior but doesn’t offer any scientific backup that aggression can be inherited.

Mark Simmons, a former SeaWorld senior trainer who’s since spoken out against the documentary, told the “Blackfish” crew that Tilikum was an outlier.

Animal trainers often discourage owners from breeding aggressive animals but behavioral scientists who study humans and animals often emphasize the influence of both genetic and environmental factors.

While some studies have focused on a gene linked to aggressive behavior in humans, for example, most research has at least acknowledged the role of outside triggers.

Indeed, University of Notre Dame anthropologist Agustín Fuentes sharply panned the notion that biology is the sole determinant of hostile behavior in humans in a 2012 Salon article. His piece also cited research involving animals but not specifically killer whales.

SeaWorld says Tilikum fathered 10 of the 29 killer whales at its three parks. That means about 34 percent of SeaWorld’s current killer whales share his genes. The park says none of these orcas has aggressive tendencies.

There have been more than 70 killer whale-trainer accidents in the past few decades.

“Blackfish” spends significant time laying out Tilikum’s history but also provides examples of other dangerous – and even deadly – encounters between trainers and killer whales.

One former trainer specifically claimed there have been more than 70 incidents at SeaWorld and elsewhere.

One of the more prominent ones mentioned in “Blackfish” is the December 2009 death of Alexis Martinez, a killer whale trainer at a marine park in Spain. Martinez was killed while training with an orca reportedly on loan from SeaWorld. The movie also mentions two examples from San Diego, including a trainer who was held under water in 2006 and another who was seriously injured after a whale landed on him when it was doing a trick.

A legal brief filed by Occupational Health and Safety Administration attorneys last fall said SeaWorld records “aggressive or other unwanted whale behaviors” and documented at least 100 incidents from 1989 to 2009.

The filing noted that those episodes resulted in at least 11 injuries and some may not have been reported.

SeaWorld argued the documentary zeroed in on the total number of incidents, which it says is misleading because many didn’t result in injuries or even involve direct contact between a trainer and a whale.

The park also says the incidents were recorded precisely because they reflected behavior that was out of the ordinary. SeaWorld said trainers note those scenarios so they can monitor changes and, if necessary, adjust trainers’ approaches to a specific whale.

“It is this careful attention to the behavior of all of our whales that has led to our exemplary safety record,” SeaWorld said in a statement. “Trainers have learned a great deal about killer whale behavior from studying these examples and a result, the number of incidents has greatly reduced over time.”

OSHA disputed the latter point in its September court filing.

“SeaWorld claims the frequency of such incidents has tapered off over time but there have been incidents every year but two since 1988, culminating in trainer deaths in 2009 and 2010,” attorneys wrote.

SeaWorld’s whales die much earlier than wild orcas.

Howard Garrett, co-founder of the nonprofit Orca Network, made this claim in “Blackfish”: Female killer whales in the wild can live up to 100 years and their male counterparts 50 to 60 years but SeaWorld’s orcas only live 25 to 30 years.

Garrett and others in the movie say holding whales captive cuts their lives short – by a lot.

SeaWorld called those conclusions patently false and said data on killer whale life spans is often misrepresented or oversimplified.

The Orlando Sentinel conducted an exhaustive review of related research in January and found a lack of conclusive data on killer whales’ life spans.

The Florida newspaper cited studies by U.S. and Canadian government researchers that found female killer whales in the Pacific Northwest live 30 to 50 years and males live from anywhere from 19 to 31 years, but that individual whales can live far longer. Female orcas can live up to 90 years and males up to 70 years, according to the Sentinel.

But Sentinel reporter Jason Garcia’s biggest takeaway was that biologists aren’t certain how long killer whales live because there hasn’t been enough research:

With the limited data available, scientists say it can be misleading to compare life expectancies between whales in the wild and those in captivity. Instead, they say, the more accurate comparison to use is the “annual survival rate” — essentially, an estimate of the percentage of whales in a population expected to survive each year.

By that measure, Garcia found captive whales died at nearly three times the rate of wild orcas each year though more recent data reveals similar survival rates.

SeaWorld knows killer whales have the potential to be aggressive but doesn’t take adequate steps to protect its trainers.

Throughout the film, former trainers drive home the point that SeaWorld knew human-whale interactions were dangerous long before Brancheau’s death.

“I’d been expecting somebody to be killed by Tilikum,” ex-trainer John Jett, who once worked with the killer whale, told the film crew. “I’m surprised it took as long as it did.”

But SeaWorld maintains that orca aggression isn’t a regular occurrence.

Here’s how the company described whale-related risks in a court document filed late last year:

On rare occasions, killer whales can be dangerous. SeaWorld has taken extraordinary measures to control that risk. But it cannot eliminate it while facilitating the interaction between humans and whales that is integral to its mission.

In that same filing, SeaWorld argues it has taken “extraordinary steps” to ensure safety, including by having trainers document whale behavior.

It also outlined emergency procedures, including an alarm that alerts trainers if one of their colleagues is injured or appears at risk. The park says trainers must have more than 18 months of experience before they have close contact with an orca and at least three years before they can direct whales’ behavior.

SeaWorld says its training protocols are far from static, and that the company applies lessons learned.

“Our practices evolve and improve continually,” SeaWorld said in a statement.

This is part of our Quest: SeaWorld series digging into the park’s impact on our region. Check out the previous story – SeaWorld’s Whale of a Problem: Required Reading – and the next in our series – Takeaways from SeaWorld’s Big Anti-’Blackfish’ Campaign.


Question: Why does Seaworld have to take extraordinary measures to insure safety if these ocras were not dangerous in captivity?
Note: There are no examples of killer whales harming humans in the wild, just in small sterile pools where they are held captive for coporate greed and entertainment.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 23, 2014 09:28AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SeaWorld Floods Debate Audience with Paid Employees to Cheer & Jeer

Back on October 12, 2012 the marine mammal industry paid homeless folks, and others, $22 per hour to sit in line and occupy chairs at a NOAA hearing in Silver Spring, Maryland. This was done to flood available spaces at the hearing with "hired hands," to "represent" the cruel practices of the captivity industry, by doing nothing.

Specifically, these folks were used to block out the work of NGO's & animal welfarists who wished to testify, or hear testimony, against the idea of importing 18 wild caught belugas that were captured on behalf of SeaWorld, the Georgia Aquarium, & the Shedd Aquarium. The industry paid tens of thousands of dollars to block a democratic process that should have been open to all that were interested, by using mostly poor people as pawns. NOAA denied the permit, but the industry has since appealed the decision.

That was then. This is now...

Despite accumulating scientific evidence that orcas suffer in captivity, SeaWorld continues to spread misinformation & use propaganda & stunts, similar to the disgraceful one used at the NOAA hearings, in 2012. Maybe the company is desperate, especially since recent polling data, HERE, [] shows that only 21% of the American public support keeping killer whales in captivity; 50% oppose; and 29% are undecided.

Same Corporate Tactics in 2014

On June 5, 2014, Voice of San Diego (VOSD) hosted an-open-to-the-public SeaWorld Round Table event composed of SeaWorld killer whale trainer Kristi Burtis and Veterinarian Todd Robeck, head of the company’s breeding program, plus Naomi Rose PhD of the Animal Welfare Institute and professor Susan Gray Davis, who’s researched the park’s business model. The event was also live streamed and described by VOSD in economic terms:

"SeaWorld has a significant economic footprint in San Diego. During its 50-year history, it's generated millions for city coffers and employed thousands of San Diegans. But a controversial documentary has raised big questions about SeaWorld's treatment of its trademark killer whales."

With its brand hemorrhaging followers, corporate partners, stock holders, and social capital, the easy way out would be to admit mistakes, apologize for the failed experiment, and move forward with a progressive business model; move away from marine mammal captivity.

NOT for SeaWorld.

The company, still largely composed of corporate cowboys, is hanging onto captivity like the Koch Brothers hanging onto climate change denial. It's become laughable.

Thus, instead of letting the debate venue fill organically, and represent a true cross-section of the interested public, SeaWorld decided to (once again) flood the hearing with more "paid place-holders," this time using its own employees, shipped in courtesy of company vans. SeaWorld knows that far more people are now opposed to it's business model than support it. And it couldn't risk being outnumbered & embarrassed in this public forum.

You have to give credit to SeaWorld for one thing...

this time they got a better deal, as the average wage at SeaWorld is far less than the $22 per hour that they & the Georgia Aquarium paid the line sitters at the NOAA hearing.

See this link: : []

Pls. Note:
Coral World employed the same tactic with filling seats and speaking slots at the CZM hearing held for their proposed Dolphinarium. They had ALL of their employees come very early and sign up to speak on behalf of Coral World, after their overly long intitial presentation. The meeting ran late and the majority of those in opposition (myself included) were not able to testify nor voice their opposition before the meeting came to an end. Employees who do actually oppose the "Dolphinarium" cannot speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 23, 2014 11:01AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

"We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do.
True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.
Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living beings, humanity will not find peace."

--Albert Schweitzer, Physician/Nobel Laureate.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 24, 2014 10:28AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

"The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret. It has come to believe that compassion in which all ethics take root, can only attain breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind."
--Albert Schweitzer, physician/Nobel Laureate.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 25, 2014 11:13AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."

Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual/political leader.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 25, 2014 03:19PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049



prepared by Dr. Naomi Rose, Ph.D.

This is too long a document (16 pages total) to post here but I hope those of you that have continued interest in this subject will take the time to review it at the link: []

Also Please see for the full report on the below

OSHA Calls SeaWorld Unsafe in Official Legal Document
The following is copied directly from the Legal Brief Filed by OSHA

US Court of Appeals
District of Columbia
OSHA's Legal Brief vs SeaWorld
Beginning 12 November 2013

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 25, 2014 04:06PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

This is such an appalling read: The more I read and educate myself about these creatures lives in captivity, the more I am horrified, shocked, sickened, disgusted, saddened and angered by the complete lack of compassion we have for these animals we keep in captivity for our amusement and corporate greed.

The Remarkable Concluding Testimony of Former SeaWorld Animal Handler Cynthia Payne

Preface for PART TWO: Cynthia Payne is a former SeaWorld animal care handler and current president of a company in North Carolina called Go Green, Inc, which she founded in 2007. She's lived in Holland & Germany and is an accomplished equestrian rider. After watching Blackfish, she reached out to us, at Voice of the Orcas, with this moving testimony. This is the rather shocking conclusion of her story.

PART ONE IS HERE: Meet Cynthia Payne: Another former SeaWorld Staffer Comes Forward after Blackfish

Cynthia was employed by SeaWorld, in Orlando, from 1992 to 1994, and told us, "I truly, truly cared for the animals and admired several of the people I worked with and for, but I also recognized it was wrong." Cynthia adds her voice to ours, and to a growing number of former industry workers, and citizens, who are speaking out against companies who display intelligent, self-aware creatures for human amusement. We welcome her strong voice, and thanks again, Cynthia.

Please see the entire article here:

This is an excerpt:
Gudrun was unique as her dorsal fin was remarkably straight. For reference, 100% of captive male orcas have collapsed fins, and most of the adult females. Her straight dorsal fin made her an ideal animal for photo opportunities (good PR). In her last gestational period, prior to her death (1995-1996) she was frequently slid up into the shallows so park guests could stroke her fin, and SeaWorld would then sell the photos back to the tourists. These extended 10-15 minute dry sessions likely lead to the death of her calf in February 1996. After the calf died, she did not pass it. This lead to the Animal Care department winching out the dead baby using a chain around it's peduncle. This resulted in a prolonged bleed out and infection of Gudrun. She died 4 days later. Details of this can be found in David Kirby's book, Death at SeaWorld, which has entered its 3rd printing at the time of this article.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 29, 2014 07:48AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

Save The Date!

You will see below the US Army Corps of Engineers are having an open house on St. Thomas on September 3. You will also see they are inviting questions from the public.

I suggest you write with the following question: Why have they ignored the many requests from the US Virgin Islands for a public hearing on Coral World's permit application to place an open water dolphin pen in Water Bay?

Let's make our voices heard again! Email

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to attend the
Regulatory Division's 2014 Open House, "Strategies for Success."
Join our team, at a location near you, as we share program developments
and other topics of interest in your area and throughout our region.

[[b]b]Wednesday, September 3 | USVI 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library[/b]
4607 Tutu Park Mall, St. Thomas, VI[/b]

2014 Developments: Our team is looking forward to sharing information and answering your questions about mitigation, alternatives analysis, endangered species, indirect effects and more. To stay connected and get more information, visit [].

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Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 29, 2014 11:35AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

Tilikum's Story" - a tale of kidnap and exploitation


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

July 02, 2014 12:12PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

This is Tilikum's Family that he was taken from. He was a Southern Resident.

Even After a Decade of Protection, Puget Sound’s Orcas Are Still Struggling

Even though scientists have learned a lot about the Southern Resident orcas since they were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005, a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows their population still isn’t growing and has raised more questions about their future survival.

In the 1960s, the Southern Residents, which include three distinct pods ( J, K and L pods) numbered at about 140, but captures for public display caused their numbers to drop drastically. By the early 1970s there were only an estimated 71 left. As of last year there were still only 82.

Even with live captures being banned, federal protection and millions spent on research and recovery efforts, they’ve yet to make a comeback.

Recent news about them keeps going from bad to good and back again: from worries that they would have federal protection removed to the sightings of Springer, who was the first orca to be rescued and successfully released and who was spotted with a calf, and of 103-year-old Granny, who is believed to be the world’s oldest orca, to NOAA’s latest findings and the surrounding questions about whether and how we can help them thrive.

Scientists have answered a few questions about these orcas — including discovering where they go in the winter, how they identify and choose their preferred food and how noise from boats is changing their behavior, among other things — but still aren’t sure why their numbers haven’t increased more.

The Seattle Times notes that they have found that it’s not so much a single issue that can be addressed, as it is a battle against multiple, overlapping threats. The three main problems now are a lack of food, disturbance from boats and a buildup of pollutants in their bodies.

Their favorite food, chinook salmon is also endangered. Ken Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research, believes that addressing their food source is what matters most now and that if we want to help orcas recover the focus needs to be on recovering species of salmon they rely on.

Boats are also believed to cause them to hunt less, speed up and burn more energy than they would otherwise, which leaves them using more energy when there’s less food available. Even with rules that prevent boats from coming into 200 yards of them or designated critical habitat, they’re still struggling.

According to NOAA, these orcas are also the most contaminated marine mammals in the world and have been found to have DDT, PCBs and flame retardants in their systems, which have been linked to disease and reproductive problems.

Now, scientists will be working to address these three main issues, while enforcing current regulations, along with taking additional measures to protect them – adding steps that range from making sure we’re ready to deal with a catastrophic event like an oil spill and coordinating response efforts to help stranded orcas to working to raise public awareness through education and outreach programs.

Meanwhile, rumors of a potential pregnancy are swirling around Rhapsody, a member of the J pod, leaving orca enthusiasts cautiously optimistic and hopeful that a new addition might be on the way. Howard Garret, founder of the Orca Network, wouldn’t substantiate the rumor, telling the South Whidbey Record that there’s no way to tell short of a physical exam, but he did say she’s the right age and looks a little large.

Read more: []

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

July 06, 2014 02:47PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

SeaWorld Makes List of 4 Most Hated U.S. Companies

SeaWorld has repeatedly claimed that the controversial “Blackfish” film was full of misleading evidence and was more of a propaganda piece than an objective documentary; however, it appears that the American public isn’t buying that story. According to a recent report released by Comsumerist, SeaWorld has made the list of the four most unpopular U.S. corporations.

Who made the list? SeaWorld, of course. And Walmart, Monsanto and Comcast. We could just rename the companies: Animal Abuse, Sweatshop Labor, GMOs and Terrible Customer Service.

SeaWorld’s reputation came under fire in 2013 when the premier of “Blackfish” brought the mistreatment of captive orcas to the public’s attention. In the wake the film’s release, celebrities and activists boycotted the parks, helping to spread awareness and increase support for the documentary. As park attendance plummeted and, as a result, SeaWorld’s stock value decreased, many parks were forced to lower the price of admission in order to try and make up for lost revenue.

Shortly after the release of “Blackfish,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined the ranks of SeaWorld’s critics and fined the park for failing to properly maintain flooring and tanks. The USDA determined that the health and safely of animal performers was put at risk by the outdated facilities. Then, in the beginning of 2014, SeaWorld was fined again for the same flooring issue and the use of expired surgical sutures. These sutures, if used on any of the parks’ injured animals, could result in severe and life-threatening infections.

Today, over a year and a half after the premier of “Blackfish,” the marine park operator continues to face decreased attendance and revenue. Consumerist reports that SeaWorld’s annual number of visitors fell by 4% in 2014, with even lower numbers seen in the last three months.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

July 09, 2014 10:58AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
--Abraham Lincoln, former American President.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

July 12, 2014 11:15AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,049

The Fight to Free Lolita, the World’s Loneliest Orca, Continues

Animal advocates have headed back to court on behalf of Lolita, a lonely orca who has spent decades in the smallest and oldest tank in the U.S. at the Miami Seaquarium, in an ongoing battle to set her free.

Lolita’s advocates had previously asked the court to intervene and stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from continuously renewing the Seaquarium’s license to exhibit Lolita, despite blatant violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Unfortunately, their case was dismissed in March by a federal judge. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the judge ruled that because Congress didn’t directly address license renewals when adopting the AWA, the USDA is allowed to rubber-stamp license-renewal applications.

Now the ALDF, Orca Network and PETA are challenging the dismissal and hope to ultimately to get the court to void the license and end Lolita’s suffering.

Not only is she being kept in a tank that violates the USDA’s standards for minimum size, but she’s being kept in solitary confinement with no escape from the Florida sun or other weather conditions, which are all violations of the AWA. Even if the Seaquarium did meet the minimum standards of care, they’re still woefully inadequate for orcas and have drawn congressional support for a long-overdue update.

“By failing to administer the law, the USDA sentences Lolita to another year of solitary confinement each time it renews Miami Seaquarium’s license. We will continue to fight to win her the protections she is entitled to under the law,” said ALDF’s Executive Director Stephen Wells.

The real tragedy of Lolita’s story began in 1970 when she was torn from her mother’s side and the rest of the Southern Residents‘ L pod during a brutal roundup in Penn Cove when she was just a baby. She was sent to the Miami Seaquarium that year and has been there since.

Lolita once at least had the companionship of another orca, Hugo, but he died of a brain aneurysm in 1980 after repeatedly ramming his head into the side of his tank in what many believe was a suicide. She has been alone ever since.

In addition to trying to get the courts to intervene, Lolita’s advocates are working to get her listed as an endangered species, along with the rest of the Southern Residents who were protected in 2005. Those supporting the effort believe that her captivity and continued exploitation would be a violation of the rules intended to protect imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act and that the Miami Seaquarium would have to let her go.

In January, the National Marine Fisheries Service responded to the petition, and announced that it was warranted, but a final decision isn’t expected until January 2015.

After more than 40 years in a tiny tank being forced to perform, she deserves to retire in peace. Of the few options available, her advocates are pushing to see the Orca Network’s retirement plan go into effect, which will involve sending her back to a sea pen in her home waters off the coast of Washington, where she will at least be able to experience the ocean and communicate with others of her kind.

The ultimate goal of the plan is to reintegrate her back into her pod, who her mother (L25) is still a part of. However, if she is unwilling, or unable, they have vowed to provide care for her for the remainder of her life. The story about Springer, the first orca who was successfully rescued and returned to the wild, give hope that Lolita would have the same success.

Whatever the outcome of the appeal and the petition for endangered species protection, we can be sure leaving her at the Miami Seaquarium will cause her to continue to suffer and result in certain death. With more than 40 years worth of profits in its pocket at Lolita’s expense, it’s time for the Seaquarium to let her go.


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