A SeaWorld rep responded, "The process of collecting semen for [artificial insemination] doesn't differ in any meaningful way from the techniques employed in managing livestock or other species for zoological display. … [O]ur trainers do not now nor have they ever entered the water with Tilikum for this purpose."
But Tommy is standing his ground and has sent the following response to SeaWorld:
Terry W. Prather
Dear Mr. Prather,
SeaWorld's PR line about the breeding of Tilikum falls flat, given statements PETA has from SeaWorld's own former employees, and it doesn't explain how exactly SeaWorld collects Tilikum's semen without having anyone get into the pool with him.
Former SeaWorld scientist John Hall says in this article, "Early in the morning, the animal-care crew would take hot-water-filled cow vaginas and masturbate the males in the back tanks." In this YouTube video, SeaWorld trainers demonstrate semen collection by standing in shallow water next to an orca and grabbing his penis until he ejaculates into a plastic bag. Linda Simons, SeaWorld's former health and safety director, confirmed to PETA that trainers are in fact in the water with Tilikum when masturbating him. When she asked about safety concerns with this, the response was, "This is how we've always done it."
It doesn't matter if trainers are ankle deep or totally submerged in the pool during this masturbation. Orcas commonly capture prey by leaping out of the water, grabbing the animal, and dragging him or her beneath the surface of the water.
To settle this, how about PETA and I come to SeaWorld and videotape the process, and then people can decide how natural it is? It might make your dramatic news releases about a new orca pregnancy or birth less appealing, but the public deserves to know. And they've undoubtedly never seen a sex tape like this.
Please back Tommy up—and speak out for all the whales at SeaWorld too.
Written by Sunny Subramanian