The end of orca entertainment

Sophia Kim , Staff Writer

After 50 years of killer whale captivity, SeaWorld has finally responded to animal rights activists by shutting down their orca breeding program and their well-known Shamu shows. It took the deaths of two people, over 70 cases of SeaWorld orca accidents, and a 84 percent plunge in profits for them to finally realize their immoral actions. Despite the fact that Seaworld has taken a step toward animal welfare, there is still a long way to go before any significant impact is made.

The depressing story behind the orcas at SeaWorld was largely unheard of until the documentary, “Blackfish,” was released. After the release of the film, animal-rights activists were outraged about the capturing of killer whales, their captivity, artificial breeding methods, and living conditions. Since the start of the breeding programs, killer whales at SeaWorld have been kept in small concrete pools, forced to train as circus animals, and separated from their natural habitats. The stress and frustration of these intelligent animals even led them to kill two innocent people in their tanks at Seaworld, including one experienced trainer called Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

Although SeaWorld took a big step toward animal welfare by shutting down their orca breeding program, there are still 29 orcas living in captivity. This means that for another 30 or so years, the orcas will live virtually lifelessly in the small concrete pools until they die. Seaworld should take further action by either sending these orcas to sanctuaries, the sea, or by expanding their own facility. These intelligent animals that have shown emotion deserve the right to live freely, without human control. Although many say that releasing the orcas into the wild is a bad idea, due to the likeliness of death, they should still have the opportunity to experience freedom before they die.

The case of orca captivity is nearly solved, but what about the penguins, dolphins, and beluga whales that go through the same torture, breeding process, and separation at SeaWorld? What about the zoo animals and circus animals that work to their deaths? There are so many innocent animals torn apart from their natural habitats and families, only to be used as human entertainment. These animals don’t get the support they deserve as a result of public ignorance.

It wouldn’t be realistic to say that all zoos, aquariums, and parks like Seaworld should shut down, but SeaWorld can do more than just stop their orca breeding program and shows. They could start decreasing the number of all animals they have in captivity and make an attempt to make their artificial homes more like their natural habitats. In addition, they should stop their inhumane breeding process for all animals, leading to the end of animal captivity. Animals at SeaWorld are wild animals that have the right to live in their natural habitats. We shouldn’t be using their suffering as entertainment, nor should we be keeping them in captivity.