Today Tilikum, the infamous orca which killed its trainer at the Orlando SeaWorld in February 2010 will return to the exhibition basin, thus I want to take on this opportunity to raise awareness about the condition of sea mammals in SeaWorlds.
Tilikum was captured near Iceland in 1983 when it was around 2 years old. He was first kept at a Sealand in British Columbia, but after he was involved in an incident that resulted in the killing of a trainer, he was moved in emergency to the SeaWorld of Orlando. Tilikum is indeed a particularly HUGE orca; it is 6 meters long and weights about 6 tons. At the Orlando SeaWorld he was again involved in the death of a man who had illegally intruded its basin in 1999. Finally in 2010 it killed a third human being – its trainer, Dawn Blancheau an experienced woman of 40.
I think that the story of Tilikum – for how horrible they are – show what terrible consequences the captivity of such big animals can cause. These ocean giants are kept in basins that equal the size of a bathtub to them and constantly ordered to do stupid tricks which exacerbates their frustration.
To echo this, I would like to recommend you a great movie: The Cove; which features the incredible story of Richard O’Barry who was the trainer on Flipper the Dolphin for most his life until he witnessed one of them deliberately stop breathing and let itself die (breathing is conscious action for dolphins). O’Barry then spent the rest of his life fighting the SeaWorld industry in a last attempt to purge his guilt.
This documentary will show you the other side of the SeaWorld exhibitions – the one that you would never imagine : the capture and trade of wild dolphins in the Bay of Taiji, Japan and the living conditions of marine animals in SeaWorlds. Richard O’Barry’s testimony sheds light on their sad and unfortunate fate : their food is injected with antibiotics to cure their stomach ulcers since they are so unhappy and upset. But all we see is the smile that nature so unjustly put on a dolphin’s face, which is but a shallow façade that hides incredible pain and despair.