ORCAS In Captivity: A Tragic Story
The tragic death of a trainer at Sea World’s park in Orlando, Florida, USA, is not a unique incident, it is just a further nightmare in this appalling and sad story which is based on the fundamentally wrong principle of keeping one of the most intelligent and highly evolved marine mammals in captivity, the orca.
It is not the first time but third time Tillikum, the male orca involved in yesterday’s incident, has been involved in a tragic accident that ended with the death of a person. In the world of captive cetaceans it is the second such death within a few weeks.
In the wild orcas are highly social mammals, staying with their family groups throughout their lifetimes - in captivity they are confined in concrete tanks.
Read the facts and you will learn why captivity is wrong for these magnificent creatures and why an end to captivity is the only real answer to prevent such a tragedy happening again. Also, find out how you can to help protect orcas in the wild.
These recent tragic deaths of two orca trainers (the other at Loro Parque in Spain in December 2009) are a very sad reminder that orcas and other whales and dolphins should not be kept in captivity. Further general information on the issues of captivity can be found under the Captivity pages.
Here are some of the ways in which you can help us to save whales like Tilikum from a life incarcerated in a concrete tank:
- If you dont already support WDCS, adopt an orca or donate some money. This money helps provide campaigners and researchers who posses the technical and professional knowledge with the resources to research and campaign against the continued capture and captivity of cetaceans, through lobbying documents, public campaigns and meetings with decision-makers where we can make a difference.
- Tell your friends and family why captivity is bad and why they should not visit parks with captive whales or dolphins (or swim with them either!)
- Join us on Facebook and Twitter and continue to spread the word! Facebook and Twitter.com/WDCSna
- Consider writing a polite letter to your local newspaper (mentioning WDCS and not to go to parks keeping whales and dolphins) - we need more public support!
- Sign our EAEDC petition to give public support to our EU lobbying work to stop trade and captivity in Europe.
- Keep an eye on the latest WDCS news and sign up to our enewsletter.
Further details can be found here:
Other orca/trainer incidents
Orcas kept in captivity worldwide. Dying to Entertain You - a full background report
Statement by Sea Life on the Sea World incident and WDCS (in German)
Some Essential Background Statistics on Captive Orcas
- There are currently 42 orcas known being held captive worldwide.
- At least 136 orcas have been taken into captivity from the wild since 1961. 123 of these (or 90.4%) orcas are now dead.
- The median survival time in captivity of these 123 wild-caught orcas was approx 4 years (range from 1 day to 28 years).
- In the wild, male orcas live to an average of 35 years (maximum 50-60 years) and 50 years for females (maximum 80-90 years).
- The median survival time for the 40 orcas born in captivity to have survived over 12 months (both dead and currently alive) is only 8 years (in total there have been 84 known pregnancies in captivity).
In total, 152 orcas have died in captivity (captive and wild born) plus 27 miscarried or still born calves.
- Sea World (USA) holds 21 orcas, 50% of the world captive total (in total 44 orcas have died in SeaWorld Parks).
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