The well-known Sea World Park, located in Florida, California, and Texas, have been keeping killer whales as hostages since December 1965. The first-ever killer whale show at Sea World Park in 1965 included a killer whale, named Shamu, as one of its adroit performers. The female orca, Shamu, was kidnapped from her vast, aquatic environment in the ocean by a marine “cowboy” named Ted Griffin, directly after Shamu’s mother had been murdered by a harpoon in the ocean. Griffin’s collaborative partners, such as Don Goldsberry, were later hired by the Sea World Company to unethically kidnap killer whales and transport them to the Sea World tanks.
Furthermore, killer whales that live freely in the midst of the oceans usually dive to the depths of 328 feet. The deepest dive, which was 850 feet, known for a killer whale was performed under experimental conditions. However, numerous tanks in famous theme parks have a depth of only 45 to 65 feet. For instance, in the Sea World that is located in Orlando, Florida, the deepest tank is only forty feet deep, while an average male killer whale is approximately 23 to 30 feet long and typically weighs 6 tons. In other words, these highly intelligent, social, and massive marine animals are living in a space that is equivalent to that of a “kiddie pool” for them. Killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family, and with excessively large bodies, they clearly require a large habitat as well. They should not be confined to minuscule tanks.
With manifold killer whales held in captivity by multifarious amusement parks, safety and health concerns are raised not only for the killer whales, but also for the passionate performers. In fact, there have been exceedingly more than 100 recorded and identified cases, where the killer whales displayed severe aggression, chaotic swimming behaviors, and various other instances of frustration as a result of their confinement. Their intense frustration eventually served as a catalyst to attack their trainers/ performers, causing numerous injuries and even three deaths in the past 30 years. In 1991, a killer whale, named Tilikum, had killed Keltie Byrne, a former trainer at the now-closed Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia. After this incident, Sea World (Orlando) bought Tilikum after hearing that it was the world’s largest killer whale, weighing 12,500 pounds and over 22 feet in length, held in captivity and currently on the market, where he had further killed two trainers tragically. The stress of captivity caused Tilikum to kill Daniel P. Dukes in 1999 at Sea World and the senior 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau on February 24, 2010. Moreover, Tilikum had even dismembered Dawn while he drowned her and broke most of her bones throughout her body. After this most recent death, Tilikum was placed in an extremely confined tank, which was 20 feet by 30 feet, with the head of Tilikum touching one end of the tank and its fluke touching the other end of the tank, for an entire year. After a year, the deadly male killer whale, Tilikum, made a reappearance and continues to perform for the public audiences with trainers/ performers, despite the numerous hazards Tilikum poses.
A picture of Dawn Brancheau, the star performer at Sea World, sitting on Tilikum’s mouth during a show.
Tilikum was captured in November of 1983, at the age of two years old when he was 13 feet long. He was not only torn away from his own family and his true habitat of the immense ocean, but he also became stressed due to his unscrupulous confinement. He has a collapsed dorsal fin, which means the killer whale is stressed as well as in inferior health conditions as scientists have discovered. All in all, Tilikum has undoubtedly endured several hardships that he should not have.