Captivity kills


A SeaWorld trainer rubs one of the killer whales during a performance at SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld has been criticized for their mistreatment of animals. Photo provided by Tribune Content Agency.

Hannah Hill, Author

Ever since its first park opened in 1964, SeaWorld has been a notable tourist attraction in multiple cities around the United States. For nearly 52 years, the marine park has featured killer whale, sea lion and dolphin shows that aim to entertain park goers with the animals’ choreographed tricks and routines. In recent years, however, SeaWorld has come under fire for their supposed mistreatment of the animals they keep in captivity.

“I think SeaWorld is a very exploitive company. Most of the animals are abused and many of the animals are locked in a small space when they should be kept in a huge space, like the ocean. I watched the documentary ‘Blackfish’ and it really opened up my eyes to the horrific actions of SeaWorld,” Katherine Morzy (10) said.

“Blackfish” sheds light on the harmful effects of killer whales in captivity. The movie exposed how the killer whales at SeaWorld are captured from their homes in the ocean, abused and forcibly bred in order to keep the company going. The film, along with animal rights activists, argue that keeping whales in the small, confined spaces of their captivity causes them to become aggressive and violent, putting the trainers who work there in danger. It can also be noted that many whales kept in captivity die much earlier than they would in the wild. While the average killer whale can have a maximum lifespan of 60 to 70 years in the wild, killer whales in captivity are found to only have a maximum lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

“I think ‘Blackfish’ is really informative and eye-opening. With any documentary, you have to be weary of bias, but to me the documentary is pretty unbiased and insightful,” Morzy said.

Since the release of the 2013 documentary, SeaWorld attendance has dramatically dropped in protest of the company’s mistreatment of animals. In 2015, the company suffered from an 84% drop in profits. To combat their falling sales and attendance, SeaWorld decreased ticket prices and spent over $10 million on a new marketing campaign to combat the backlash from “Blackfish.”

“I think keeping animals in captivity is incredibly cruel. No matter how ‘well’ they are being taken care of, they are still not in their natural habitat,” Morzy said.

As criticisms from animal activists continues to plague the company, ticket sales and profits continue to drop. It is still unclear whether or not SeaWorld is in the midst of its final days.

“I really believe we could teach people about animals without having to keep animals in captivity. Places like SeaWorld are not as effective as we think they are, and are more of a money making enterprise,” Morzy said.