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January 16, 2015
Top 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About SeaWorld
July 2, 2014
This year SeaWorld placed in the top four of Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” competition. In honor of this achievement, here are my favorite ten things about SeaWorld:
Many of SeaWorld’s original orcas were stolen from the waters of Washington State and British Columbia in the 1970’s. The National Marine Fisheries Service has stated that SeaWorld’s captures likely caused the Southern Resident orca population’s current endangered status.
The annual mortality rate of orcas in captivity is roughly 2.5 times higher than wild orcas. Of the 200 orcas that have been kept in captivity over the last 50 years, 159 are dead.
Every single adult orca male (and most females) in captivity experience partial to full dorsal fin collapse. Dorsal fin collapse occurs in only 1% to 5% of wild male orcas; it is not found in wild females.
Orcas at SeaWorld are fed up to 80 pounds of JELL-O every day in an attempt to keep them hydrated. The defrosted fish that they are fed lacks the water content and nutrition of wild fish.
SeaWorld regularly gives its orcas drugs like Maalox and Tagamet for stress-related stomach ulcers. They are even given anti-anxiety drugs like Valium to curb behavioral and mental problems that might spark questions from park visitors.
SeaWorld Parks have separated 23 orcas calves from their mothers, some before they are even weaned.
It is estimated that incidents of orca aggression towards trainers number in the high hundreds. Four people have been killed by captive orcas. Zero people have been killed by wild orcas.
The orca, Tilikum killed two people prior to killing trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010: A young trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia, and a park visitor at SeaWorld Orlando in 1999. Just months before Brancheau’s death, trainer Alexis Martínez was attacked and killed by an orca at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands of Spain. SeaWorld was aware of the attack but did not notify their staff.
Despite Tilikum’s history of killing human beings, he is one of the main breeding whales at SeaWorld. Tilikum has sired 17 pregnancies, and over 50% of SeaWorld orcas have his genes.
For every $100 of revenue, SeaWorld donates approximately 1 cent to conservation and rescue of wild animals. That's .0001 percent of their income. A lot of the money comes from government grants and donations, so SeaWorld’s actual contribution is even less.
For more information about SeaWorld and marine mammal captivity, please check out MARINE MAMMAL PARKS.