Today’s post is a little on the nose, so to say. It’s been just over a week since the news of Tilikum’s death, a bull orca, captured in Iceland. He was the largest in captivity and died at 35. Bear in mind that male orcas can live up to 70 years old, perhaps more, in the wild.

Watching this documentary, I was disgusted with how these animals are treated. I don’t know how much of it is true, but nevertheless, it’s horrendous. I’ve kept it to my 500-word limit, but I could have gone on for pages about this.

I want it to be known that yes, I am guilty of enjoying zoos and aquariums. I have only ever been to a SeaWorld once, when I was four years old, in or around 1999. Living in England, we don’t have SeaWorlds here. We have Sea Life centres and Oceanariums, but nothing like the scale of SeaWorld. I enjoy going to zoos and oceanariums etc., but would I be upset if they were all shut down and the animals were set free? Not in the slightest.

I just watched ‘Blackfish’, a well-known documentary surrounding the killer whale, Tilikum. SeaWorld is renowned for lawsuits and petitions against it, especially for the captivation of orcas. When I think about it, the captivation of any animal for entertainment purposes is, hands down, pretty disgusting. I like to think to myself that a lot of the animals in zoos etc. are there to be cared for. I know in the UK, we house a lot of animals that are going extinct – tigers, lions etc. – and there are breeding programs going on, charities and such that help to try and protect those animals still in the wild. But I’m probably kidding myself. Those animals are there for our entertainment just like any other, just like SeaWorld’s orcas.

But how many cases have you heard of people dying in zoos etc. in the UK? A quick Google search gave me one. One case. Now, how many people have died from orcas in captivity? Another quick search gave me 39 separate cases, four of which have been fatal. There are no cases of fatal attacks by wild orcas, and only a handful of non-fatalities. Surely this is enough to, if not shut down SeaWorld, at least stop the captivation of orcas? Apparently not.

Admittedly, I do not know a lot about orcas, but they are intelligent animals, that has been proven. Since the release of the Blackfish documentary, many people have tried to debunk it, saying that the documentary is bogus and misleading. Be that as it may, you cannot deny that keeping such large, majestic animals in a pool that is not even a percentage of the size of the ocean, is humane. Keeping any animal in any enclosure, it can be argued, is inhumane.

I would not be upset if, were it for the right reasons and these animals would be safe, every animal in captivity was set free. I certainly wouldn’t like it if I were cooped up in a cage. It is perfectly understandable why these animals attack. Trainers may not be solely to blame, but neither are they animals.

It was announced that Tilikum had died on 6th January, 2017, and many people were very happy. It is a great tragedy, of course, that this orca died, but at least now he is free. ‘Blackfish’ may not be 100% accurate, but there is so much wrong with the captivation of orcas, that it disturbs me that nothing has been done about it.

I’m not sure that there’s anything more to say. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite for enojying these kinds of attractions and being against what they stand for at the same time. I’m not perfect. But there’s clearly something wrong surrounding orcas and captivity.


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