C’mon. It’s not rocket science. #GoVegan
Remember: the animal rights movement is a social justice movement. If you believe in freedom of speech, the right to a peaceful life without the threat of violence and war, protecting the young and innocent from violence and abuse, if you believe in protecting and defending female rights and control over their own reproductive system, if you believe in absolute equality, liberty and justice as a whole, then why aren’t you also defending all non-human animals’ rights? We are all animals. Respect for life is respect for life, regardless of the species that life belongs to.
Here’s what I’d like to do with the rest of my life…
This is the next step that we had been waiting for in legislation to end cetacean captivity. California Coastal Commission has banned Seaworld from breeding orcas in captivity, in a not-so-surprising ruling that is hugely well received within the anti-cap movement.
Seaworld have responded by saying, “Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane”.
The irony (and blatant audacity) of that statement is not lost on anti-cap campaigners who have been calling for Seaworld to stop breeding – and in far too many cases in-breeding – these highly evolved mammals in captivity for some years now. The documentary Blackfish (2013) highlighted Seaworld’s alleged dubious breeding practices. These involve Seaworld trainers having to manually stimulate their captive orca to produce semen which is then stored for further breeding of captive orca.
Between 1956 and 1972, various entities including Don Goldsberry of Sea world Inc. captured hundreds of orca from the Pacific northwest area of the United States. In 1970, Goldsberry rounded up orca in the Penn Cove area, near Puget Sound, in Washington State using speed boats and nets. This process was filmed. They took young orca from their Southern Resident families to stock their ever-expanding marine parks, using methods that were unscientific and inhumane, at best. They made hundreds of thousands of dollars off the back of this process.
Almost as many orca died as were taken, during the 1970 captures (4/5 died, 7 were captured). Those involved attempted to hide the dead mammals using stones to weigh their bodies down in the water. It suggests they knew what they were doing, and had perhaps plenty of experience of hiding dead orca. Footage of these wild captures can be found in this fascinating documentary here.
Lolita was one of the orca taken captive in 1970 and is the sole survivor of this event, still languishing at Miami Seaquarium. Her Southern Resident pod (or family) still survive in the Puget Sound bay area, including her mother (Ocean Sun: L-25) who was born in 1928! They are known to the conservationists who study them as the L-Pod, which has around 40 clan members. Lolita should be with her family, but she remains captive four decades later.
In 1972, the ‘Marine Mammal Protection Act’ came into effect, partly created in an effort to protect and preserve the rapidly declining numbers of Orcinus orca in the Puget Sound bay area (some might suggest it was as a direct result of Seaworld’s wild capture activities). Conservationists have since been working hard to try to preserve these wild populations of orca in and around US Pacific northwest coast area. Orca are protected and are on the Endangered Species list. This fact makes the knowledge that at least 300 wild orca were taken captive between 1956-1972 from this very area, and were sold and shipped to so many marine parks, all the more sickening to digest.
[More information on the wild orca captures in Puget Sound can be found here – Seaworldofhurt.com.]
Seaworld took to importing and then breeding their own stock animals for entertainment purposes wherever possible. As these animals – stolen from the wild – died off early in captivity, so they worked to replace them with captive-bred animals. Many have died soon after birth. Many have died a year or so after birth. Many are taken from their mothers in captivity (wild orca remain with their family/social units all of their lives).
Many would argue that false killer whales are not suited to a life of captivity; we might all suggest that these highly evolved, powerful and naturally active animals are unsuited to a life in small chlorine tanks, suffering constant interference, vibration and noise from huge audiences and other human activity.
The fact that Seaworld have now been banned from breeding these animals – and they were banned from taking wild orca decades ago – must surely spell the end of orca captivity? I truly hope that is the case.
Thank you for reading.