Should killer whales be held in captivity?

The following article from the Orlando Sentinel kind of got my ire up.  I felt as if, as usual, those with an agenda feel it necessary to highlight an isolated incident of tragedy to further that agenda.

The author of this article clearly has an agenda. The issue I have is that this is written as if these types of events were common place. It is the same type of argument used by proponents of gun laws; find an isolated incident and portray it as common place.

The truth is I'm agnostic on the issue. I don't care one way or the other as long as animals are not being gratuitously tortured. I certainly would not advocate caging all lions because one attacked a native in the plains of Africa and I would not argue the reverse as does the author.

Trainers dealing with large animals assume a certain amount of risk. There is danger inherent when working with wild animals; the larger the animal the greater the risk. It is certainly tragic when a trainer is injured or killed but it does not necessarily prove that animals in captivity are any more dangerous than animlas in the wild.

I think it is important that people have a chance to see and interact with creatures such as killer whales, lions and elephants in a controlled environment. These types of exhibits provide an opportunity for learning and to appreciate the wonders of nature that most may never otherwise have.

Regardless of your point of view using tragedy to promote an agenda is always disgusting IMHO. 

Why killer whales should not live at marine parks: a tragic reminder

Before I say anything else, please understand that my heart goes out to SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, her family and all the people who loved and admired her. From all accounts, she had a beautiful soul.
And, yes, I know SeaWorld does a lot of good things for wildlife conservation. I also once saw the popular “Dine with Shamu” show there, and I agree it’s entertaining. But I wouldn’t go again.

I have to think that Brancheau’s death Wednesday at the popular marine park attraction is a tragic reminder of why creatures as big as Tilikum — the killer whale that apparently dragged her underwater and drowned her — simply should not be in captivity.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society are just two of the organizations that have campaigned against the practice. First, killer whales in captivity often get sick and live on average only into their 20s (though there are exceptions). In the wild, the females typically live into their 50s or beyond and the males at least into their 30s.

Advocates for the orca blame the stress of captivity — the lack of natural social groups, the tight confines, the chemically treated water. These are highly intelligent creatures with entrenched socialization habits and sophisticated communication skills. And you cannot ignore their most obvious feature: their size. Perhaps I’m being simplistic, but if you were 26 feet long and weighed more than six tons, where would you rather swim — in a tank or freely in an ocean?

I’ve been a fan of SeaWorld for years, and I will continue to be — at least for certain parts of it. I happen to love the “Pets Ahoy!” show the park started using shelter dogs and cats and other small animals, who probably live a pretty happy life at the park. But they are creatures domesticated over centuries.

Somewhere I think you have to draw the line. I’m not sure precisely where, but I think you can safely say that it’s well before you get to killer whales.

1 comment:

  1. If you were in captivity since 1984, I'll bet you'd have attacked a few of your jailers when given the chance. Unless endangered, and then only to help prevent extinction and eventually release to the wild again, no species should be held in captivity.


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