Hear that sound? That’s the call, click, and whistle of orcas celebrating the end of SeaWorld’s controversial orca-breeding program. Free Willy… indeed. And it’s about time. On March 17, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the change would go into effect immediately at theme parks around the country. “As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it,” said Joel Manby, SeaWorld’s Entertainment, Inc.’s president and chief executive officer. Of course, that’s a public relations way of saying that government scrutiny of captive breeding and the public outcry sparked by the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, forced SeaWorld to make a change. Society’s understanding of orcas evolved because Blackfish exposed SeaWorld’s cover-ups and lies.
Blackfish triggered a sea-world-of-hurt for the famous marine theme park. While the Disneyfied operation looks friendly and enticing to the uneducated tourist, a magical place where kids can pet and feed bottlenose dolphins, Blackfish exposed its dark underbelly. In the 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell discussed how governments enlisted and debased language to dress lies up as truth. SeaWorld had been dressing lies up as truth and deliberately misinforming the public for decades. For orcas in captivity, SeaWorld is a place where happiness tanks. For trainers and performers, it’s a place where a 12,500-pound whale might scalp, dismember and drown you because of its frustration with confinement. Here are 10 things SeaWorld wants you to forget.
10 Orcas Suffer in SeaWorld’s Cramped Tanks
9 SeaWorld Attendance Plummeted
8 OSHA Cited SeaWorld San Diego… Twice
7 SeaWorld Instructs its Employees to Lie
6 SeaWorld Protests are Widespread
5 SeaWorld Had a Failed Nationwide Marketing Campaign
4 SeaWorld Uses Black Zinc Oxide as Cover Up
3 Collapsed Dorsal Fins Are Unnatural
2 SeaWorld’s Trainers Are in Danger
1 Tilikum Killed Three People
Measuring 22 feet and weighing over 12,500 pounds, Tilikum is the largest orca in captivity. The bull orca was captured near Iceland in 1983; he was two years old when a “cowboy poacher” tore him away from his family. In the Chinook jargon of the Pacific Northwest the name Tilikum means “friends,” but the orca that’s sired 21 calves for SeaWorld’s breeding program (54 percent of the orcas at SeaWorld have Tilikum’s genes) is anything but friendly. In thirty-three years of captivity Tilikum has been linked to three violent deaths, two trainers, Keltie Byrne and Dawn Brancheau, and a man who fall into a pool while trespassing at SeaWorld Orlando. Experts believe the stress and frustration of captivity led to Tilikum’s aggressive behavior.
Sources: <strong> </strong>CBSNews.com, RollingStone.com, OneGreenPlanet.org, LATimes.com
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