SeaWorld announced it will no longer be captive breeding Orcas in order to phase out their killer whale shows.
These changes are in effect for all three SeaWorld Locations, leading to a future that does not include Orcas.
Several MCCC students voiced their support for the changes.
Student Rachel Peters supports the changes because the animals don’t live in the same conditions as they would in the wild.
“Orcas are not meant to live in such a small pool,” Peters said.
“The chlorine severely damages their eyes, their diets aren’t the greatest and social interactions are lackluster at best.”
In an article from seaworldofhurt.com, an aerial photo shows Tilikum, the largest orca in captivity, in a tank so small he touches both sides of the tank at the same time.
Tilikum, who has been with SeaWorld for 23 years, is currently fighting a bacterial infection in his lungs that has been resistant to treatment.
Student Isaac Murphy likes that they are focusing more on rescuing instead of breeding.
“I think it’s a good change for SeaWorld because they’ll be focusing more on animal rescues from now on,” Murphy said.
According to an NPR article, SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby announced they were going to focus on rescue operations for stranded marine mammals that cannot be release back into the wild.
The treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld received a lot of attention after a documentary called Blackfish highlighted the orcas and the conditions they live in.
The documentary focused on the orca Tilikum and the trainers who worked with the whale, including the death of Trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
Since the release of the documentary in 2013, SeaWorld has been under tremendous pressure to end its killer whale breeding program. The documentary highlighted the orcas and the conditions they live in.
In 2015, SeaWorld filed a lawsuit after The California Coastal Commissioners approved a $100 million plan to double the size of its killer whale tanks under the condition that they stop breeding their killer whales.
According to a CNN article written by Ann O’Neill, SeaWorld officials later admitted they wanted to expand the tanks to breed more orcas.
In the same article, the Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director, Stephen Wells, explained in a statement that orcas do not thrive or breed well in captivity.
”It is cruelty, pure and simple, to keep large, intelligent, complex and social sea mammals in tiny tanks and force them to entertain consumers whose dollars would be better spent on conservation of orcas in the wild,” Wells said.
“The commission’s decision confirms that SeaWorld’s days of breeding and warehousing orcas for entertainment are numbered.”
According to an NPR article by Greg Allen, the director of Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, described the changes as “a defining moment. The fact that SeaWorld is doing away with orca breeding marks truly meaningful change.”
Student Alexis Kupovits supports the changes because the animals don’t get to fight for their own rights.
“Animals are abused time after time in zoos and shows like these so it’s good that they are putting an end to captive breeding,” Kupovits said.
The Orca Tilikum performed eight shows a day seven days a week before killing Sealand trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991. The trainers withheld food from him as a training technique.
In addition to the two SeaWorld trainers, the orca also killed a man trespassing on SeaWorld Orlando’s property in 1999.
Although Tilikum has exhibited aggression toward humans, he was used for breeding and 54 percent of SeaWorlds Orca’s contain his genes.