Two former trainers at SeaWorld have released a report that includes firsthand information about the stress that killer whales endure in captivity—stress that the ex-trainers feel led to the deaths of at least two SeaWorld employees.
Working with The Orca Project, Drs. Ventre and Jett documented stressors such as confinement to small, shallow pools, lack of social interaction, whale-to-whale aggression, and inadequate medical care, and they drew a direct link between captive orcas' abysmal living conditions and the whales' desperate acts of aggression toward humans. According to Ventre and Jett's calculations, captive orcas' life spans are cut drastically short, down to a median age of just 9 years compared to the 30- to 50-year average life expectancy of orcas in the wild.
Written by Michelle Sherrow