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Orcas in Captivity

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Orcas in Captivity

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:49 pm

So I'm sure a lot of you have heard of and/or seen Blackfish, which has caused quite a stir among a lot of people regarding keeping orcas in captivity. Just recently, a friend posted this link on Facebook and it got me thinking...

http://action.sumofus.org/a/seaworld-or ... sh/?sub=fb

Other than the obvious AR's language used in it, it is well written out and appears close to passing into the realm of possibility. While I don't think bans are the way to go, and these orcas that Seaworld now has would likely have a terrible time trying to survive in the wild, I also don't exactly agree with the circumstances under which these orcas are kept. The tanks (though not as small as the AR people want you to believe :roll: ) just don't seem big enough for an animal that size, and I'm not sure all the enrichment in the world could keep an orca entertained in that kind of tank.

Just curious what everyone's opinions are?
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Ash » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:43 pm

I fully support SeaWorld 100% in keeping their orcas. Truth is, those orcas get TONS of enrichment, being with their trainers daily, doing shows--it is very stimulating and good for them to be trained. They're well-fed, they're healthy, they get vet care, they interact with other orcas. Maybe their tanks could be bigger, but you could say that for any animal being kept in captivity.

For all we know, orcas may not require large enclosure to be happy. Just because in the wild they inhabit the ocean doesn't mean they really need that large space. They don't need to hunt or migrate in captivity.

One of the trainers they interviewed was shocked at her slanted portrayal in Blackfish and came forward after she saw it, saying she was angered at how they used her words to be twisted to their agenda.

My sister works in the film industry, and has edited mini documentaries--in other words, she's given a script to work with, and then she puts together the story from all of the footage. All documentaries are well-written propaganda whether that's for the better or worse. The ones that are set apart and considered "exceptional" are well-edited. Documentaries--regardless of their angle--is a story, and that's it, a story. You could have taken the EXACT same footage that the cameras got for Blackfish and made it a 100% different story that made SeaWorld look fantastic. When my sister was at film school, they showed two documentaries with the exact same footage, but with different narrations--you'd never of even known which was the intended version if you weren't told.

Many unqualified people try to make themselves "experts" in animal behavior. Animals have very different needs than humans do, and in order to understand what an animal needs, you need to know that exact species and have worked with the species a lot. Only SeaWorld has really done this up close and personal with whales, so I would say they're one of the best qualified to make the decision for their whales. If the whales weren't happy, they would not perform as well as they do.

I could sit here and speculate all day what a whale's proper enclosure size should be, but I'm not the person who has dedicated my life to keeping, studying, and training them, so I have no right to do so.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby RabbleFox » Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:10 am

I completely disagree with the way orcas are kept. I'm not sure that can be kept properly in captivity.

I'll post more on this later.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Juska » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:29 am

I'm going to keep mine short.

Until we can literally talk to animals and ask how they feel about being/born in captivity, if they aren't showing obvious signs of depression or restlessness, I'm pretty sure they're doing fine and people should stop whining about how "miserable" animals are in captivity.

You don't know how the animal feels. You're not a mind reader, you obviously aren't an "expert" on orca or any other animal's behavior or body language; stop trying to "speak" for them. You don't know what goes on behind the scenes at places like Sea World, no matter how much you think you do, just because you saw a MOVIE.

I like how people are just now starting to complain and participating in slacktivism against Sea World when before they either had zero opinion or didn't care enough to do anything.

It seems people these days like to take what they read in the news and pretend it's their own opinion. And you can tell when they do that because they can't provide any more argument when they run out of material to copy/paste from the article or Wikipedia page about the subject, or when another article comes out the next day that explains that yesterday's "news" contained false information or wasn't real to begin with.

Case in point: a "trending" article on Facebook (how I loathe thee) allegedly claimed that LeBron James was "confirmed" as the star in the next Space Jam movie.

Cue people whining and complaining about it, because that's all Facebook is for nowadays, apparently.

Only hours later, LeBron got on Twitter and dispelled the lie that he was going to be in the movie.

I urge you, please go out and do your research and form your OWN opinion. Think for yourself. Don't let others think for you.

I don't think we need to be taking animals out of the wild, who are already in established family groups especially, and putting them into captivity in mass droves anymore. Such as what that company tried to do by taking those orcas out of the wild to simply display at Sochi, and no other reason besides that.

But banning the ownership of them outright isn't going to fix the "problem" either, mainly because there is no problem.

All that's going to do is make people who hate the idea of exotic ownership think they can get an animal banned from ownership if they cry and complain about it enough. And the people who make AR propaganda like Blackfish can team up with lobbyists and get them banned as well, if they appeal to those aforementioned people enough.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Nìmwey » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:01 pm

I was waiting for this to come up. :mrgreen:

I was sure this was a topic where I was going to disagree with you, since I imagined most of you would be pro-SeaWorld (or at least not anti), and I was "team Blackfish" for a few months after seeing it, but a few weeks ago, I opened up to actually listening to other opinions and facts, and changed my mind.

I don't think cetacean captivity is perfect, but neither is any other form of animal captivity. And the wild isn't, either. As was pointed out on this site (http://cetacean-captivity.tumblr.com/), there is no conceivable environment where an animal will never suffer.
SeaWorld might be able to improve on a few things, but overall I support them.

I have realized Blackfish is mostly propaganda and lies. For example, lying about natural orca lifespans and dorsal fin collapse MORE than SeaWorld does, and leaving out tons of information (information that might - gasp - put SeaWorld in a better light). I'm working on a video on the subject.
Then there are of course those who are "anti-caps" since before, and weren't "converted" by Blackfish, and I have a little more respect for them than the ones who just goes "watch Blackfish, seawurld is evul!", regurgitating things from the movie without fact-checking.

Also, there is the extreme maturity level on quite a lot of anti-caps who just go on to ANY video about SeaWorld - at all! - to start spewing their beliefs, and some even going "I came to this video just to vote it down". Something I think is very common, given the antis resistance to facts and tendency to vote down anything that doesn't agree with them. And then they think they've done something really good for orcas that day, while they haven't done. a. thing. except to annoy people.

Juska wrote:I like how people are just now starting to complain and participating in slacktivism against Sea World when before they either had zero opinion or didn't care enough to do anything.

It seems people these days like to take what they read in the news and pretend it's their own opinion.

Word.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX4GRC6L07w
This was the video that first started changing my mind after I started going "hmm" on this more.
The thing is there are many ex-trainers that talk about this, some are anti-captivity, some are pro. Some even worked at the same park, at the same time, with the same animals, and have completely different opinions. So I don't think there is an easy and simply answer to this.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby TamanduaGirl » Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:58 pm

I actually know someone who worked there. They have no negative feelings about how the orcas are kept. Think of it like any other animal. A wild hamster for example has miles of territory but they don't get miles in captivity, though they do get wheels. No animal in captivity gets the space they would in the wild but if they get enough enrichment/exercise etc that they need to be well then it's fine. It's as simple as that though in reality that's not as simple a feat for orcas as giving a hamster a wheel but I think they are doing a pretty good job.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Nìmwey » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:59 pm

SeaWorld now has plans to create a sort of "water treadmill" to give their orcas (don't know if they will do it for the smaller dolphins too?) more exercise. :D

https://www.google.se/#q=SeaWorld+water+treadmill
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby TamanduaGirl » Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:52 pm

Nìmwey wrote:SeaWorld now has plans to create a sort of "water treadmill" to give their orcas (don't know if they will do it for the smaller dolphins too?) more exercise. :D

https://www.google.se/#q=SeaWorld+water+treadmill


Cool but: Update: KSB told us that although they created 3D simulations for SeaWorld, “SeaWorld has not built the treadmill and isn’t planning on doing so.”

Maybe it failed the feasibility studies mentioned. Cool idea though.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:08 pm

TamanduaGirl wrote:
Nìmwey wrote:SeaWorld now has plans to create a sort of "water treadmill" to give their orcas (don't know if they will do it for the smaller dolphins too?) more exercise. :D

https://www.google.se/#q=SeaWorld+water+treadmill


Cool but: Update: KSB told us that although they created 3D simulations for SeaWorld, “SeaWorld has not built the treadmill and isn’t planning on doing so.”

Maybe it failed the feasibility studies mentioned. Cool idea though.


That seems like an incredibly cool idea, it's a shame it isn't actually feasible.

I guess my main issue with the living situation is that, just as we talk about foxes and wolves/wolfdog hybrids and other exotics getting "cabin fever" so to speak if kept inside as adults and, as a result, becoming aggressive, neurotic, and destructive, there have been some instances where some orcas (and other marine mammals) have become aggressive.

Is it attributed to that? I don't know. Like Ash said, I am not an expert on the requirements of a large marine mammal, nor am I going to pretend like I know anything more than the average joe does.

I'm just gonna sit back and watch everyone else's opinions unfold, because I like stoking the fire. :lol: (and because debates are interesting!)
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby TamanduaGirl » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:22 pm

BlueBaby1023 wrote:I guess my main issue with the living situation is that, just as we talk about foxes and wolves/wolfdog hybrids and other exotics getting "cabin fever" so to speak if kept inside as adults and, as a result, becoming aggressive, neurotic, and destructive, there have been some instances where some orcas (and other marine mammals) have become aggressive.

Is it attributed to that? I don't know.


I don't think it's outside so much as having their own space with lots of enrichment that makes the difference. Though the orcas are outside but just a pool instead of the ocean but it's their own space that humans only visit.

Could be a vast number of reasons but if you watch the clip posted the trainer says they choose to stay in the smaller pools when given the chance.

For example of other reasons in kangaroos an occasional very aggressive one pops up. This is said to be normal as it's a "King" kangaroo. I guess sort of like being an alpha wolf but since kangaroo mobs are a bit different they get a different label.

Sometimes things can look and feel aggressive but not mean to be, like rough play.

There are plenty more reasons too so it's not really possible to say without knowing the species well and also the individual animal involved.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Alynn » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:32 pm

It's still something I'm unsure about.

The thing with orcas and other animals that rely heavily on sound and echolocation, it seems like being in an environment where there is a lot of noise pollution would be immensely stressful. I also don't know if it's fair to just say "well they have the animals so they know what they're doing" when we criticize major zoos that sometimes fail to even get the species of an animal correct.

That, and the shortened lifespans of captive killer whales versus wild killer whales is something I have to question as well. Generally when an animal is kept in captivity their lifespans are longer, not shorter, so why is it in the case of orcas that they seem to live lives that are sometimes just a fraction of their observable life span in the wild? It could be argued that the care of orcas has improved in years and therefore orcas will start to live longer, but I suppose time will tell.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Ash » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:17 am

Alynn wrote:It's still something I'm unsure about.

The thing with orcas and other animals that rely heavily on sound and echolocation, it seems like being in an environment where there is a lot of noise pollution would be immensely stressful. I also don't know if it's fair to just say "well they have the animals so they know what they're doing" when we criticize major zoos that sometimes fail to even get the species of an animal correct.

That, and the shortened lifespans of captive killer whales versus wild killer whales is something I have to question as well. Generally when an animal is kept in captivity their lifespans are longer, not shorter, so why is it in the case of orcas that they seem to live lives that are sometimes just a fraction of their observable life span in the wild? It could be argued that the care of orcas has improved in years and therefore orcas will start to live longer, but I suppose time will tell.


That's a really good point, actually.

I just don't know how we're going to improve the lives of captive orcas without having to run some through the test process first. In many ways, they're like a new species being kept--not too much known about them--still lots to learn. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try some trial and error so that we can improve their lives in captivity as a whole. While we have a handle on most species being kept in captivity, we may not quite have found that trick with orcas yet, but I do think we will find it as long as we keep studying the ones that are in captivity. Maybe the answer will be larger enclosures, I don't know.

I did not know about the shortened lifespans, but I'd also like to know about the cause of death too. Did they die naturally--just too early? from disease? were they put down early for one reason or another? The figures can be slanted depending on why/how they died. Orcas live a long time, so I can't imagine we've seen too many die in captivity, but I may be wrong.

When I looked, it seemed that research on their longevity is more unknown and left up to guessing. It doesn't sound like any longterm research/study has been done. SeaWorld thinks the females live up to 50, and males to 30. Then you have other people saying they can live to be 80.

As a killer whale ages, it periodically produces growth layer groups of dental material. Age can be estimated by examining a sliced section of a tooth and counting these layers. These estimations can be accurate in young whales, before the tooth's pulp cavity fills in, but in general are not reliable for animals older than about 20 years.


The above quote from the SeaWorld website, if the science is true, makes me think most of the "lifespans of killer whales" we see are much higher than they actually are if you can't accurately estimate an animal older than 20. I doubt there has been even one killer whale study that has gone on long enough.

That's why to me it just sounds like a bunch of AR propaganda, slanting facts, taking a handful of researcher's opinions (when no definitive, good study has been done yet lasting long enough), and then spitting out a conclusion: abuse.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby TamanduaGirl » Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:13 am

Alynn wrote:That, and the shortened lifespans of captive killer whales versus wild killer whales is something I have to question as well.


There's still some issue with age(accuracy of statistics I mean). With care recently being batter than years past like all other species and their having longer lifespans than other species something in the past causing them to die younger now wouldn't mean the care now is bad. The whales from those earlier day are more likely to be aggressive as well. Of course those from earlier days were the ones wild caught. The annual survival rate of captive born orcas is 97%

They use the mean of all deaths in captivity so that counts those dieing shortly after birth. When that happens in the wild they are likely never known about or counted. If you look at the deaths of orcas and don't count the baby deaths its not as bad as they make it look by counting babies and those that died shortly after capture also skew things if you are using the age of death as a reflection of care. And not all died young: K1 was 41. Corky in Canada was about 40 when she died. Nootka5, Viga and Yaka were 32. Nootka 2 was 30. There were many in their 20s as well.

But then they've only been kept for 50 years or so and of course living ones aren't counted in their mean death age in captivity.

What about the living ones.
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I don't know on the noise but they aren't running into things all the time though it rarely happens. The ones born in captivity would be less likely to be stressed by it since they would be raised with it around. Even if it does interfere it would be like how someone born with vision problems wont be much stressed by it compared to someone who loses it.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Nìmwey » Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:54 am

About the age, the lifespan put out by Blackfish is false. Howard Garrett claims females "live to be 100 years, maybe more", and males "50-60". Later in the film, SeaWorld trainers are shown saying they live to be 25-35 years.

In fact, females live an average of 50 years, and males an average of 30 - in the wild.
Ulisses is the oldest male in captivity, and he's 37 (captured in 1980 at the age of 3), Tilikum is 33, Bingo (in Japan) is 31. Corky and Lolita both seem to be 48 (Lolita was captured in 1970 at the age of 4, and Corky was captured in 1969 at the age of 3), and no female has had a chance to reach her full lifespan, as we haven't kept them that long.

So in Blackfish, SeaWorld is understating (lying) about orca lifespan - although it would be true for males - while the claim of 50-60 as average for males and 100+ for females is a HUGE lie by Blackfish.

I would want to know more about how they are affected by loud noises, such as music and cheering audiences, as I have heard about it before but not much. And I'm afraid I won't listen to pure anti-caps on this as I can't trust them to be truthful. (I would like a neutral, agenda-free source.)

With all of this going on, I see it as a minor issue - it's about 50 animals in total we're talking about (that have far better lives than the millions of pigs and chickens we raise and kill to eat every day), and it will probably be phased out over time. No more whales are taken from the wild, and 50 (many already related, Tilikum alone has 14 children and grandchildren) is not a sustainable gene pool. So sooner or later it is probably going to be phased out.
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Re: Orcas in Captivity

Postby Ash » Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:47 am

Saw this. Apparently Seaworld is majorly expanding their whale enclosures now into a bigger exhibit. From 5.6 million gallons to 10 million gallons. AND they are putting $10 million towards orca research.

http://blueworldproject.seaworld.com/realm/
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-seaworld-orca-plans-20140814-story.html

Quote from above source:
"The new pool will allow visitors to view the orcas from a 40-foot-tall glass wall below the water line, SeaWorld officials said in an announcement."


That will be super cool.

Anyway, my stance is still the same as it was before, but I thought this was good news for everybody, regardless of which side of the argument you're on. Even SeaWorld will benefit. It'll make them more popular again, and many people will want to visit the new exhibit. Plus, I always think when it comes to keeping wildlife in captivity, the rule "the more space the better" is a good one.

I'm kind of excited about the research projects they'll be doing with that 10mil. I imagine we'll learn a lot of interesting things, and maybe even finally get an idea of what their lifespan is like.

Just thought it was good news to share (for everyone).
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