In spite of a slew of negative press in recent months, animal theme park SeaWorld is continuing to add to its number of captive animals with an active breeding program. Last Tuesday, a thirty-year-old Pacific bottlenose dolphin named Kolohe gave birth to a healthy, forty-pound calf at SeaWorld San Diego. According to SeaWorld, this is the corporation’s seventy-ninth successful dolphin birth.
SeaWorld’s reputation was hard-hit after the release of Blackfish, a documentary which exposed the mistreatment of both animals and trainers at the marine parks and called into question the inhumane practice of keeping some of the the world’s largest animals, whales, in captivity at all. As the documentary continued to air on CNN, SeaWorld park attendance and even the SeaWorld stock began to decline.
Several celebrities showed support for the Blackfish film, including Ewan McGregor, Hugh Hefner, Russell Brand, Olivia Wilde, Ellen Page, and many more. Russell Brand tweeted “Do watch “Black Fish.” Don’t go to SeaWorld, a stain upon humanity posing as entertainment.”
Perhaps the best news for captive animals at SeaWorld is that PETA, a longtime critic of the corporation, has filed a formal complaint with Florida’s State Attorney, calling that SeaWorld be investigated and possibly charged with the felony of animal cruelty. In 1991, SeaWorld purchased a 12,000 pound orca named Tilikum who was removed from the wild as a young animal in 1983. This orca is the largest in captivity and has endured cruel treatment for decades. His frustration and pent-up energy has resulted in the deaths of three trainers and erratic behavior such as floating listlessly and chewing on the sides of his enclosure, but the animal is still kept in captivity and continues to be used in shows.
PETA hopes that the case of Tilikum will be enough to charge SeaWorld with animal cruelty. Florida law “prohibits intentionally causing excessive or repeated unnecessary suffering – and SeaWorld knowingly subjects Tilikum to the constant stress, agitation, conflict, and injury inherent in keeping a far-ranging, highly social mammal in captivity.”
Photo Credit: SeaWorld