Blackfish: The Negative Impacts Of Tilikum In Captivity

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The documentary Blackfish brings to the public attention the aggressive behaviors displayed by killer whales in captivity. In particular, they focus on an orca by the name of Tilikum held in captivity, by Sealand and later SeaWorld, for close to three decades. Tilikum has caused the death of three people, during his time in captivity--- the most recent being that of Dawn Brancheau, an expert trainer for SeaWorld Orlando. Dawn’s death has sparked increased controversy for the popular entertainment park, most of it revolves around the conditions that the orcas live in. Through interviews with former trainers for the park, the documentary explores how these giant creatures are being damaged physically and mentally by being trapped inside a concrete …show more content…
Removing killer whales from their natural habitats does indeed have certain negative effects on these marine animals. According to a report released by The Humane Society titled “Killer Controversy: Why Orcas Should No Longer Be Kept in Captivity”, the mortality rate for orcas held in captivity is two and half times higher than when in the wild. It has also been reported that the annual survival rates are significantly lower in captive orcas. Killer whales also exhibit certain behaviors when in captivity that are not observed when they are in their natural environment. For instance, female orcas have shown rejection and aggression towards their newborns more often when they are in captivity compared to the wild- in the wild, this behavior is a rare occurrence. When placed in aquariums by humans, it’s often common to group together orcas who are not compatible with each other. Normally in the wild, when two orcas don’t get along they can go somewhere else in the open ocean. However, in captivity the space available to flee is limited and as a result the orcas bully one another resulting in serious injuries. In nature, this behavior has been rarely …show more content…
Animals should be allowed to live in their natural habitat. Removing an animal from its environment at a young age is similar to separating an infant from its parents and placing it with strangers. Killer whales live in organized social structures, like we do, and are negatively affected when they are separated from their young. Research has repeatedly shown that orcas held in captivity suffer from elevated levels of stress. A clear example of this is seen in the collapsed dorsal fin of captive male orcas. A collapsed dorsal fin is a sign that something is wrong with the killer whale because in nature this does not occur. Many believe that killer whales in captivity receive exceptional veterinary care that helps them live a prolonged and healthy life. These animals are given daily a reliable food source and are not faced with the predators that they could potentially encounter in the open ocean. Though this is a valid point, orcas pose various adaptations which has helped them survive for so long in the marine environment. These adaptations are what makes them the apex predator of the ocean. Personally, after watching this documentary I would not be visiting an aquarium for the reasons mentioned above. As for the whales in captivity, I believe that they should be placed back in the wild but in a controlled manner. Scientists should first ensure that the whales could

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