Killer Whales Captivity

Superior Essays
Killer Whales, their name alone makes a bold statement, and it is no surprise that people flock to areas that showcase these majestic animals. Spectators watch in awe as these animals put on a show with their trainers. Venues, such as Sea World, take claim to the idea that these shows support education, research and conservation of killer whales12. Alternatively, many state that the use of killer whales for our entertainment is not only dangerous to people, but that it violates the five freedoms under the Animal Welfare Act2. The intent of this essay is to investigate and discuss the arguments for both sides regarding the issue of keeping killer whales in captivity. Killer whales, or more appropriately, Orca, are in the dolphin family5. They …show more content…
It is important to pay attention to the wording of this freedom, as the words ‘ready access,’ dictate that the animal should not have food withheld from them, especially for convenience. In the wild, killer whales are top predators that eat nearly anything from small fish, to sea turtles and seals. They often feed on schools of fish by hunting in their pods together. At Sea World, much of their food is withheld prior to training sessions and shows. That way they are more likely to perform well and be obedient. This is denying them ready access to food. Their diet is also lacking the amount of variety as they would get in the wild. And they are robbed of their ability to hunt which would have an impact on mental health10. It is well known that exotic pets, such as birds, should be fed in a way that enables them to forage. So, why would it be any different for killer whales? It is just as important for the mental health of a killer whale to be able hunt, as it is for a bird to be able to forage. Additionally, the diets in captivity are lacking in nutrition. Several whales in captivity have a drooping dorsal fin, a sign of poor health that is rarely seen in wild whales10. It is evident that keeping a killer whale in captivity impedes its ability to have ready access to …show more content…
If the animal does experience severe injury or disease, then they should be humanely euthanized if the causative ailment cannot be alleviated2. There are several reports of killer whales dying in captivity after suffering for a great deal of time. For example, two killer whales that died within a few days of each other were said to have bacterial infections, but there is no evidence of them receiving veterinary care. One of the killer whales, an adult female, was so weak in her final days that her handlers had to drain her tank and support her with a sling as she was too weak to come up for air10. If the handlers were abiding to animal welfare standards, it would have been more appropriate to euthanize her 2. While the reports of sick killer whales being denied treatment may very well be true, it is also possible that they were assumed to be in good health until they died9. Unfortunately, finding actual vet records for these animals proved impossible. Since these examples were found on the internet, their information should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless of the validity of the accusations pertaining to the appropriateness of the care of the killer whales, it is clear that several killer whales kept in captivity have fallen ill

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