The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have released a report outlining the arguments and scientific evidence against the public display of killer whales, or orcas, on animal welfare grounds.
“The debate on captive orca welfare has been going on for more than 30 years and that’s far too long,” said Naomi Rose, Ph.D., senior scientist for Humane Society International and the author of the report. “The science is in and we should realize that nothing – not profit, not education, not conservation – can justify keeping this large, social, intelligent predator in a small box.”
Keeping orcas in captivity is not just detrimental for the animals. Since 1964 — the first year an orca was displayed to the public — four people have been killed and dozens more injured by captive orcas. The most recent death occurred in February 2010, when trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed just after a show at SeaWorld featuring Tilikum, an approximately 30-year-old male orca.
In August 2010, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited SeaWorld with a “willful” violation of safety regulations, meaning the company showed plain indifference to or intentional disregard for statutory requirements for employee safety and health, in the matter of Brancheau's death. Rose will be attending the hearing scheduled to begin today as the theme park challenges the agency’s findings.
The report, “Killer Controversy: Why Orcas Should No Longer Be Kept in Captivity,” presents the growing body of scientific evidence showing that orcas do not adapt to captivity, including: