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Separation – Fourteen captive killer whales have been separated from their mothers by SeaWorld’s hand, most of them under the age of five. Yet SeaWorld has emphasised that they “do not separate killer whale mothers and calves.” How can they get away with telling such a blatant lie? They do this by manipulating the definition of the word “calf”. When SeaWorld refers to a “calf” they are referring only to nursing young. Their own website states the following: “Most killer whale calves born at SeaWorld generally nurse for about a year, but may continue to nurse occasionally for as long as two years.” So, according to SeaWorld, about the age of one or two years is when a young orca is not considered a “calf” anymore. The actual definition of “calf” is this: “the young of various large animals (as the elephant or whale).” – SeaWorld has separated mother killer whales and their weaned calves as young as 1.5-2 years old, who would normally stay with their mothers long after the nursing period. This sly manipulation of the word “calf” allows captive facilities to not only deceive the public, but also to devalue the important relationship between a mother killer whale and her offspring. By implying that the maternal bond weakens immediately after nursing, SeaWorld compels the public to believe that their practice of severing the bond is acceptable.

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I am deeply disturbed and feel physically ill after watching the docu-film last night. I can’t shake the images of and those other poor whales being captured, isolated, starved and abused. Orcas are beautiful, majestic creatures and deserve to be free, swimming and exploring in the wild with their families, socialising in their natural habitat. It genuinely boggles my mind and enrages me so much that this practice of captivity and exploitation has not yet been outlawed. It saddens me even more that the legality of this cruelty is even an issue, the fact that people can be so morally bankrupt as to engage and proliferate these practices for the sake of profit is so profoundly disgusting. Please, please, please and any other such parks. This is simply not OK. Visiting these parks is only reinforcing the problem, and endorsing the egregious mistreatment of nature. I strongly urge you all to watch this documentary, and/or read up on Tilikum and his fellow captives. Anyone with a heart or any semblance of moral fibre will realise how far from acceptable are these practices. We need to do something to stop this. I’m not sure yet what else can be done, so I’m starting with awareness. Please share this message.

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I do not support shutting down SeaWorld; instead, I believe the multimillion-dollar corporation should end breeding and shows, phase out of the animals used for public display, and instead focus solely on rescue, rehab, and release. However, when I see ignorant comments and posts made by SeaWorld (such as the one above), I sometimes question myself. SeaWorld claims breeding is a fundamental part of orca life, but the following are fundamental parts of WILD orca life that are denied to captives: – not being separated from mothers/family members – swimming a straight line longer than only a few hundred feet – swimming up to over 100 miles per day – hunting live prey – not performing tricks – not being forced to become pregnant via artificial insemination – not having teeth drilled or removed – not being put on psychoactive drugs – not inbreeding with close relatives – having enough depth to dive deeply – not being put in slings and trucked/flown to multiple facilities – having room to flee an aggressor – not being infected with a fatal mosquito-transmitted disease from logging at the surface for long periods – not chewing gates/enclosure out of stress or boredom – not being fed blocks of gelatin to quell dehydration – not having collapsed dorsal fins from spending majority of life at the surface – not having to be stuck in a tank if a natural disaster occurs – not being confined to a concrete pool that is completely empty – access to natural elements, such as plants, rocks, fish, currents The list goes on… SeaWorld executives (the ones who actually make the decisions) care about profits more than they care about the animals—always have, always will.

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While marine parks promote themselves as being educational, do their patrons really walk away with more information about the animals than when they walked in? There is no evidence to support such a suggestion. “Saying that something is educational, is not the same as something actually being educational.” Says Dr. Lori Marino, a scientist for the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy. This 2001 poll by SeaWorld, showed that most patrons were not at all interested in learning about wildlife. “Dolphins are naturally playful/they’re not taught their tricks” was listed as a more common “fact” that patrons learned than “How smart dolphins are.” There is no doubt that knowledge and education are vitally important if future generations are to love and protect cetaceans. With the internet, vast amounts of information is now at our fingertips. The minimal education that marine parks provide us and more can easily be obtained on the internet, in books, and in nature shows and documentaries. Some aquariums that refrain from keeping cetaceans in captivity provide 3D movie experiences (such as Jean-Michael Cousteau’s “Dolphins 3D”) and interactive exhibits, to educate their guests about dolphins and whales. Keeping dolphins and whales in captivity for educational purposes is no longer necessary. “Determining (or thinking we can determine) what the public can and cannot handle at the very least smacks of elitism…I feel if we hold things back, keep secrets, have locked back rooms beyond those necessary for security, we are really looking for trouble. We are public institutions and if we do not want to serve the public, then we should close our doors and call ourselves a laboratory…If we are public institutions then we must be public.” — Roger Caras, 18th President of the ASPCA on the topic of Zoos and Aquariums

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