Shamu is shaking his head.

When a SeaWorld Orlando killer whale mysteriously fell fatally ill Monday evening, her death became the third killer whale death in just four months, and the 13th in the past 14 years.

And that’s not to mention the death of SeaWorld Orlando’s Dawn Brancheau in February when the 12,000-pound Tilikum drowned his 40-year-old trainer.

And did we forget to mention Tilikum is also responsible for the 1999 death of another man and one of three whales responsible for killing another trainer in 1991 at Sealand of the Pacific?

It’s shameful of us amid our amusement-seeking boredom, smitten between our Shamu bars and fanny packs, to expect these marine behemoths to act as if everything were just splendid when confining a six-ton whale to one of SeaWorld’s swimming pools is comparable to confining a human to a bathtub its entire life.

Of course, our hearts go out to the families of those SeaWorld employees killed as a result of company negligence.

But, then again, why should anyone be surprised when a killer whale attacks? It’s kind of in the name.

The death of the 25-year-old killer whale Kalina on Monday evening from a “sudden, mysterious” illness only further demonstrates that humans are not and will never be capable of properly caring and recreating a whale’s natural habitat.

And as the Orlando-based amusement park faces its toughest public scrutiny in its history, perhaps SeaWorld should realize that if it truly cares for its animals it should let its “family” swim free — in the oceans.

(4) comments


I think there's a strong case to be made for not making any more wild orca captures (which I don't think are happening anymore anyways), but how exactly do you propose training Sea World's orcas, all of which were either born in captivity or have been captive for 20+ years, how to live on their own?

Maybe you could draw some guidance here from the actual whale in Free Willy, you know, the one they tried to train to return to the wild, then they found him following fishing boats hungry, having lost a ton of weight. And then he beached himself and died of pneumonia? Yeah... That sounds like waaaay more fun.


Thank you, OldGator, for making this point. These animals are in no way fit to be released into the wild. I am by no means siding with SeaWorld. Most of their practices and methods have serious flaws, but it would be tantamount to starving these marine mammals if you simply put them in the ocean and let them swim away.


OldGator made my the point I wanted to make as well but I also would like to add that the employees of Sea World are all getting a bad rep. I have a friend that works at Sea World and I can tell you that every time they lose any of their animals they are all heartbroken. They take care of these animals like their own children, probably better than most people take care of their own dog or cat. The Alligator Editorial Board needs to stop listening to PETA and start using common sense.


How to release orcas safely to avoid what occurred w/ "free willy" orca:

1. Construct sea pens in British Columbia, somewhere in the San Juan Islands and near Iceland. These pens should be large and allow deep dives, but wouldn't allow the animals to go to sea "at will" in order to protect them from boats and people.

2. Provide continuing medical care as needed to each orca.

3. Orcas born in-captivity should go to their mother's original pod family location to give them the best chances.

These sea pens would at least allow the orcas to live in their natural habitats, and possibly allow them to communicate with their relative pods that are in the wild.

4. U.S. Federal Laws need to be in-place that it is illegal to keep dolphins and killer whales in captivity for the purpose of entertainment. I suspect that there might be some reasons to keep a dolphin in captivity if it has been severely injured, and while I don't like the idea - I think the way to achieve success is to be able to make some compromises for cases like "Winter the Dolphin". However, there should never be a ticket sold and even these injured dolphins should not be "on display" to the viewing/paying audience/public.

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