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Orcas shows, like those at Sea World, are particularly enticing because it gives the general public a chance to see these incredible creatures up close. Unfortunately, the story behind these creatures' captivity is rather disturbing. Orcas are caught when they are young, and then moved to tanks at places like SeaWorld. According to the charity, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, at least 166 orcas have been taken into captivity since 1961. In August, 2019, there were 60 orcas in captivity worldwide, 33 of which have been born in captivity. In January 2019, 19 orcas out of the sixty could be found in the Seaworld parks. In the wild, Orcas can live to be at least a 100 years old, but in captivity the average age of death is 23. In short, these Orcas life expectancy has been cut down by around 77 years, just by being placed in captivity.  In the wild, Orcas have been known to swim up to 40 miles a day, frequently diving up to 500 feet, foraging for food and exercising. These needs can only be satisfied by the ocean. Whether they're born in the wild or in captivity, all orcas have the same innate drive to swim far and dive deep.  Enclosures in places such as SeaWorld cannot give their whales the kind of space needed for them to survive. These less than adequate conditions can cause boredom, stress and depression for the captive whales. Another issue these small cages can cause is due to the fact that in nature, a pod of orcas has a dominant male. The dominant males don’t like to be close to the other males, and because Orcas are usually put all together in these tiny cages,  less dominant males are unable to give the alpha males the space they need. This can lead to the dominant male harming, or even killing  the other, less powerful, orca. Another issue is that in captivity they often try to breed orcas. When an Orca has a child, they should spend at least two years together, but in captivity they tend to only spend 3 months together, enough time for them to get attached, before they are split apart. 


Tilikum is one of the most well known orcas in the world. The reason for this is because he killed 3 people in captivity at SeaWorld. Tilikum was caught off of the coast of Iceland in 1983 when he was merely two years old. He spent the rest of his life in captivity, with much of that time at SeaWorld Orlando. On February 24, 2010, Tilikum pulled SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau into his pool, drowning her. That tragic event made world news, but few people realized the orca had already been involved in two previous deaths at SeaWorld. The first death occured in 1991, and involved another trainer.  The next, was a trespasser, in 1999. "Instead of the iconic, happy killer whale celebrated by SeaWorld and its fans for five decades, Tilikum demanded the world confront his reality, Shamu’s reality, which involved separation from family, confinement, boredom, chronic disease, aggression among marine park killer whales, and aggression against trainers," Zimmermann wrote. Tilikum's tragic life story resulted in decreasing attendance at SeaWorld and other whale shows, along with protests against SeaWorld,and boycotting against the parks, until finally, the company announced that it would begin decreasing animal-based entertainment.


Although there aren’t many ways people can help with this problem,  there are some. You and your family can stop visiting SeaWorld, or  join the boycott against captive whales. Most importantly, you can learn more about captive whales to help enlighten others. Spread the word to all your family and friends, and help stop anymore Orcas from suffering the same fate as the other killer whales before it.



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