SeaWorld reprised its 1976 rhetoric to oppose 2014 legislation

SeaWorld has the potential either to earn the support or the opposition of conservationists.  It has the potential for conducting genuinely educational work, but the evidence to date suggests that the business rather than the educational interests are dominating management decision . . .

This statement of the Florida Audubon Society does not refer to California’s proposed legislation, AB2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom.  Rather, it was written in the Lakeland Ledger nearly 40 years ago when, as federal legislation was proposed in 1976 for the protection of orcas, SeaWorld took the same position then as now in opposition to legislation which would limit and even end the practice of exhibiting orcas.  SeaWorld’s familiar refrain is from the same songbook that we heard them consult during this week’s hearing in the California Assembly conference room, despite the evidence of increased mortality and health risks among captive orcas.

The effect of this legislation will be to prevent you and your children from experiencing, enjoying and learning about marine animals.  It would prohibit the valuable research and educational activities carried on by SeaWorld and other zoos and oceanariums. – SeaWorld flyer distributed to patrons

The Florida Audubon Society foretold this outcome, not as a prediction, but as a justification for the precautionary steps that supported the passage of the 1976 legislation:

If, despite careful veterinary care the whales die prematurely, as has happened at SeaWorld, the possibility should be faced that the Orlando area is not a suitable habitat for the species.

Unfortunately, we did not heed that warning.  Instead, the Congress did not pass the legislation and many lives have been sacrificed just so we could see an orca in a concrete tank.  The truth is, this only allowed 40 more years of SeaWorld teaching us to teach our children that we “deserve” to see them in the morbidly small and barren tanks, to teach humans that we have an “entitlement” to see them and have them splash us, as our innocent children giggle while being corrupted to accept without realizing it a worldview of domination and exploitation.

What is more disturbing in 2014 than in 1976 is that the last 40 years have borne out what we feared might be the case in 1976: increased mortality, ill-health and denial of a birthright to live in the ocean are the costs paid by an unwilling orca to line the pockets of SeaWorld with money and children’s mouths with cotton candy.

Not all the orcas on the following list were captured by SeaWorld.  They are included because they were either captured by/for or sent to United States aquariums.  But what if the legislation had been passed in 1976?  What if other countries had followed suit with similar protections in 1976 and the years preceding the captures of the ensuing years?

The following list includes those orcas captured in or after 1976 (information from Orca Home and Ceta-base) or born (including stillborn/miscarriage/fetus) to mothers or out of fathers captured in or after that year, who might not have been in captivity if the 1976 legislation had passed not only the Senate, but also the House.  For comparison, the oldest known orca living in the wild is Granny, the oldest member of the J pod, and is estimated to be 103 years old.  Deceased orcas are shown in bold text.

Dedicated to all the orca mothers and fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers who have found themselves in captivity and have lost children, parents and siblings, or seen them live only to be taken away and shipped to another tank in another city or country as a result of the morbid thing that is orca captivity:

  • Kenau (F, captured in 1976; died after 15 years of captivity)
    • Baby Shamu 2 (F, died in 1986 at 11 days old)
    • Kayla (F, born in 1988; has lived 26 years in captivity)
      • Halyn (F, born in 2005; died after 2.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed, unborn child  (both Kenau and her baby died in 1991 during Kenau’s 12th month of pregnancy)
  • Gudrun (F, captured in 1976; died after 19.5 years of captivity)
    • Taima (F, born in 1989; died after 21 years of captivity)
      • Sumar (M, born in 1998; died after 12 years of captivity)
      • Malia (F, born in 2007; has lived 7 years in captivity)
      • Stillborn child, in which Taima also dies during labor, 2010
    • Nyar (F, born in 1993; died after 2.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed stillborn child, 1996
  • Canuck 2 (M, captured in 1977; died after 4 years of captivity)
  • Kona 2 (F, captured in 1977; died after 10 years of captivity)
    • unnamed fetus discovered during Kona 2’s necropsy
  • Kandu 5 (F, captured in 1977; died after 12 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed stillbirth, 1986
    • Orkid (F, born in 1988; has lived 26 years in captivity)
  • Winnie (F, captured in 1977; died after 24.5 years of captivity)
  • Shawn(?) (F, captured in 1978; died after 1 year of captivity)
  • Katina (F, captured in 1978, has lived 36 years in captivity)
    • Kalina (F, born in 1985; died after 25 years of captivity)
      • Keet (M, born in 1993, has lived 21 years in captivity)
      • Keto (M, born in 1995; has lived 19 years in captivity)
      • Unnamed (Stillborn in 1997)
      • Tuar (M, born in 1999; has lived 15 years in captivity)
      • Skyla (F, born in 2004; has lived 10 years in captivity)
    • Katerina (F, born in 1988; died after 10.5 years of captivity)
    • Taku (M, born in 1993; died after 14 years of captivity)
    • Unna (F, born in 1996; has lived 18 years in captivity)
      • Unnamed (F, stillborn in 2006)
    • Ikaika (F, born in 2002; has lived 12 years in captivity)
    • Nalani (F, born in 2006; has lived 7.5 years in captivity)
    • Makaio (F, born in 2010; has lived 3.5 years in captivity)
  • Kasatka (F, captured in 1978, has lived 36 years in captivity)
    • Takara (F, born in 1991; has lived 23 years in captivity)
      • Kohana (F, born in 2002; has lived 12 years in captivity)
        • Adan (M, born in 2010; has lived 3.5 years in captivity)
        • Vicky (F, born in 2012; died at 10 months old)
      • Trua (M, born in 2005; has lived 8.5 years in captivity)
      • Sakari (F, born in 2010; has lived 4 years in captivity)
      • Kamea (F, born in 2013; has lived 5 months in captivity)
    • Nakai (F, born in 2001; has lived 13 years in captivity)
    • Kalia (F, born in 2004; has lived 9.5 years in captivity)
    • Makani (M, born in 2013; has lived 1 year in captivity)
  • Kahana (F, captured 1978; died after 12.5 years of captivity, six months after miscarriage of only child)
    • Unnamed child (died during miscarriage, 1990)
  • Kotar (M, captured in 1978; died after 16.5 years of captivity)
  • Surfer Girl (F, captured in 1979; died after 9 days of captivity)
  • Vigga (F, captured in 1980; died after 19.5 years of captivity)
  • Bjossa (F, captured in 1980; died after 21 years of captivity, originally captured by Vancouver Aquarium)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1988 at 22 days old)
    • K’yosha (F, died in 1991 at 96 days old)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1995 at 1 day old)
  • Ulises (M, captured in 1980; has lived 34 years in captivity)
  • Tilikum (M, captured in 1980; has lived 34 years in captivity)
  • Nootka 4 (F, captured in 1982; died after 12 years of captivity, originally captured by Marineland of Ontario)
    • Unnamed (M, died in 1992 at 33 days old)
    • Unnamed stillborn child, 1994
  • Haida 2 (F, captured in 1982; died after 19 years of captivity)
    • Kyuquot (M, born in 1991; has lived 23 years in captivity)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1994 at 38 days old)
    • Unnamed fetus dies in 2001 with his mother in her fifth month of pregnancy
  • Samoa (F, captured in 1983; died after 8.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed near full-term baby dies in 1992 during labor with his mother
  • Splash (F, born 1989 to Nootka  5 (captured 1981) at Marineland of Canada; taken from her and transferred to SeaWorld of California in 1992, she died in 2005 after 15.5 years of captivity)

The shame of these lives and deaths should sit heavy on all our hearts.  When we have an opportunity to support legislation, whether federal, state or local, to limit and ban marine mammal captivity, we owe it to these and many other marine mammals all efforts to secure them as much of their birthright as we can.  We have denied it for far too long.

Sign to support the Orca Welfare and Safety Act.


They each and every one of them had the right to live this life, but the captivity industry and its patrons took it away. Photo by the Center for Whale Research.



19 responses to “SeaWorld reprised its 1976 rhetoric to oppose 2014 legislation

  1. It’s ludicrous, isn’t it, that some people just don’t get that they’re not the f’n center of the Universe?

  2. How tragic that SeaWorld’s rhetoric won at that time. Now, all these years later I don’t think the current consciousness of humanity will allow captivity to continue unabated. Thank you for this important and sobering article. Those of us who know the truth will NEVER stop working for their freedom. Thank you for being a leader in the effort.

  3. What a great article, Martha Brock!

  4. $eaworld has gotten away with so many things before now. We know what you do and now everybody does. Seaworld’s time is coming to an end.

  5. Sorry, I got carried away. That was a great article Mo Brock. A lot of time and research to produce all those names and dates. Kudos to you.

  6. Thank you Mo Brock! A very informative, if so heartbreaking to read. Your extensive research, facts, are so needed. The truth! And truth eventually outweighs & wins over lies & corruption. The whales will be free! Blessings.

  7. As always, very well written. On the heels of an awesome WIN for the Orca’s (Thank You OSHA) and just in time for the 50 year anniversary of torture and captivity, may I thank all you war weathered veterans. I am proud to be a voice for these beauties and hope to be for many years!!! <3

  8. An excellent article,as usual.Thank you. Reading the list is depressing, but hopefully times are a-changing… That Sea World can rule the way it does is scary.I sure hope their reign is coming to an end, and quickly too!

    • I arranged the list in maternal groupings so that people might grasp that they aren’t JUST individuals. Considering that they are real individuals is the first step, and SeaWorld has done what it can to depersonalize them by calling them Shamu or Namu, trademarking a name. People are tacitly taught – without realizing it – that one orca is like any other, even as SeaWorld proudly pronounces to its viewing public their awareness that orcas have different personalities. That “Shamu” has different personalities; really?

      And beyond their individuality, they have community, they have family. Their individuality, their choices, their community, their family, in short, everything that makes them orcinus orca has been robbed from them by SeaWorld.

      It is time to end this depravity of human spirit that we can so easily do this to other species.

  9. If you missed the interview Sean Hannity did with former SeaWorld trainer Bridgette Pirtle and a Peta spokesperson Tuesday night (4/8/2014)—consider yourself lucky.

    The host, Sean Hannity, was accommodating to Pirtle who smiled and talked about how well the orcas are cared for at SeaWorld. (I think Bridgette would go back to SeaWorld and ride those whales again in a heartbeat, if she could. Her parents were wise in persuading her to quit, if that’s how it happened.)

    When Hannity turned his attention to the Peta person, he departed from the advertised topic of killer whales in captivity and instead wanted to talk about dogs and cats, hamburgers, and leather belts and shoes….. He seemed determined to use up the limited time on live television to paint the Peta spokesperson as a radical extremist.

    When Hannity wanted to give SeaWorld a pass on this issue because, hey, it involves only a very few captive orcas in California—I wanted to throw something at the television screen. They’re breeding them as fast as they can, Sean. Let’s also include the future generations of unborn orcas born in captivity if these captive breeding programs are allowed to continue indefinitely.

    I did not dislike Sean Hannity before this display of ignorance and rudeness.

    Going forward, if it can be predicted that the interviewer is going to be belligerent and unfair to the anti-captivity side of the debate, I think it might be best to not do the interview at all.

    Bridgette Pirtle said in the interview that she never felt unsafe while swimming with the whales at SeaWorld.

    I can imagine that Dawn Brancheau would have said the same thing. Look what happened to her.

    • Thank you for your description of the Hannity interview. Because I don’t have cable, I miss so much of the “live” programming. If only for animal rights, I wish I could watch, even to see displays such as you described.

      While it is no less true that we have been taught eating habits as it is that we have been taught orca viewing habits, the latter primarily by SeaWorld, this message, too, is lost on most of the human population, that assumes that whatever it is doing is “natural” to its species. There is little questioning, consideration, evaluation done, and much of it is at the expense of other animal life. PETA is a convenient target for “extremist” accusations because it is unwavering in its stand. That it is an easy accusation in this world to suggest that defending animal rights is more extreme the the daily killing of millions of animals, of raising them in horrid conditions so that someone can have a lap dog, or a fur coat, or a gallon of ice cream indicates this absence of logical consideration and is reprehensible.

      Killing and depriving of birthright more extreme than standing for animal rights? Wow. We have a long way to go, and we are going.

  10. Awesome article!! Thank you so much for all you do.

  11. Forgot to mention…

    In the Fox News interview, Bridgette Pirtle also said she feared the SeaWorld orcas would get sick and die if they were taken from the park and put in an ocean sea pen.

    Although immune systems probably are weakened by a lifetime in captivity—I’m not altogether buying it.

    The SeaWorld folks would like us to believe that the ocean—71% of Earth’s surface—is a dark and dangerous and toxic place and that the animals are happy living in shallow, concrete pools at SeaWorld.

    They like to call the amusement park orcas “sacrificial” animals – the idea being that a few must live in captivity for the good of many.

    I say we “sacrifice” one or two captives to an ocean sea pen project under round-the-clock expert guidance and care—and see what happens.

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