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SEAWORLD RELUCTANTLY STOPS BREEDING ORCAS – KILLER WHALES

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THEME:   LIFE STYLE, NATION, NATURE

By Dan Bart | March 17, 2016 11:29 pm

End of SeaWorld, which operates marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, breeding program.

SeaWorld’s orcas range in age from 1 to 51 years old. Orcas have been a centerpiece of the SeaWorld parks since shows at the Shamu stadium in San Diego became the main attraction in the 1970s. But criticism has steadily increased in the decades since and then became sharper after an orca named Tilikum battered and drowned trainer Dawn Brancheau after a “Dine with Shamu” show in Orlando in 2010.

End of SeaWorld, which operates marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, breeding program

End of SeaWorld, which operates marine parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, breeding program

Orca are the alpha predator of the oceans. They are incredibly successful animals. They are present in almost every open sea. They express their sentience in highly developed communication, using a series of clicks and whistles including, we suspect, their own names. They are, as scientists Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell have shown, animals who are collectively individual, capable of a sense of their abstract selves. They exhibit a culture that is matriarchal and transmitted down the matrilineal line. They learn, rather than behave by instinct. Female orca live for up to 100 years. They may be the only other animals other than us who undergo menopause, partly to be around to protect their sons: male orcas stay with their mothers their entire lives.
Dawn Brancheau death was highlighted in “Blackfish,” and it wasn’t the first for Tilikum. The whale also killed an animal trainer and a trespasser in the 1990s.
SeaWorld faced mounting criticism after the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which depicted the captivity and public exhibition of killer whales as inherently cruel.
SeaWorld has a total of 29 killers whales, including six on loan to a park in Spain. Five of them were captured in the wild, but it has not caught orcas at sea for almost 40 years.
While lawmakers praised SeaWorld’s latest move, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the company had taken a step forward but that it should link its tanks to ocean sanctuaries.
“Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite said she applauds SeaWorld’s decision, “but mostly I applaud the public for recalibrating how they feel ethically about orcas in captivity.”
San Diego Humane Society’s mission is to inspire compassion and end animal suffering. One of our newest programs, Project Wildlife, helps more than 10,000 orphaned, injured or sick wild animals annually.

 

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