SeaWorld US has announced that it will stop breeding orcas as of right now, saying that "times have changed"!
It's a great day for animals and for people power! Thanks to the tireless campaigning of animal protection groups around the world, continued public pressure and dropping attendance rates, SeaWorld US has announced that this generation of captive orcas will be its last.
"The company will end all orca breeding as of today." -- SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Inc.
Since the Blackfish documentary showed the world the sad story of Tilikum, a male orca at SeaWorld US, there has been a noticeable change in the public's perception of orcas in captivity. Orcas like Tilikum are highly intelligent and have needs that simply cannot be met in captivity. In the wild they form strong familial bonds and can travel hundreds of kilometres in a single day. A life in a tank, performing for visitors is no life at all -- and thankfully no more orcas will be born into this at SeaWorld US!
This incredible news shows what can be achieved when people make a choice based on their values. Caring individuals demanded more for orcas, and SeaWorld US has responded. There is no doubt that orcas suffer in captivity but they aren't the only ones. Whilst we don't have any captive orcas here in Australia, a tank is not a natural environment for a dolphin, seal, shark or penguin either. Find out what you need to know about marine parks and aquariums before planning your next trip.
Here's to a day when all orcas get to be like this:
Munchkin have stopped making their popular orca bath toy. Why? "Because a bathtub isn't big enough for an orca."
YESSS Munchkin. Watch this heart-warming ad they made which shows the relationship children should have with animals ...
If, like the kid in this video, you know that the only place for an orca is in the ocean, join over a thousand others on Unleashed who've pledged to never visit a place that keeps orcas or other marine animals in captivity.
I'll admit, sometimes it's hard to tell if a shark is happy or sad. (Well, except for Bruce.) But I can tell you, that a tank is not nearly as much fun as the ocean for any marine animal. Here's 5 reasons to avoid marine parks and aquariums:
1. Because sad seals sucks.
2. Because if we love them we should leave them alone.
5. Because by simply not attending a marine park or aquarium you can help end this cruelty!
These places only exist to "entertain" us. So if we don't go, they can't continue to exist. What's more, it's way cooler to interact with marine animals in their natural habitat. Check out these lucky tourists hanging out with a mother and baby whale :)
Do you know another reason not to attend a marine park or aquarium? Pop it in the comments below.
Yep! STA, a major international travel agent for students and young people, has ditched any tours that go to Tiger Temple, SeaWorld (US) or which include elephant rides. Why? Because animals should be like this;
Big cats, elephants and orcas have all been known to suffer when kept in captivity and denied a natural environment. An investigation into Tiger Temple revealed that tigers were kept in small cages for 20 hours a day with practically nothing to do. These crappy living conditions meant that many of the tigers suffered severe behavioural problems such as pacing back and forth and chewing their own paws :(
The life of an elephant kept for tourist rides is just as cruel. Elephants in the wild may walk over 40km a day and will form life-long bonds. But captive elephants will be chained for many hours a day and often deprived of social contact with other elephants.
And as for SeaWorld in the US, well imagine living your entire life in a bathtub and you might get an idea of what it's like for an orca in captivity. (I think Jason Biggs expresses his thoughts about this better than I could.) So it probably won't come as a surprise to hear that animals in marine parks can suffer from stress and depression living in captivity. Just recently SeaWorld in Orlando was busted giving anti-anxiety drugs to whales.
Sooooooo... a HUGE high-five to STA Travel for taking a stand for animals and refusing to take part in this cruelty any longer :) This will make a WORLD of difference for animals.
You can let STA Travel know how awesome you think they are for leading the way in ethical tourism by leaving a message on their Facebook page.
And if you're an animal lover like me you might be wondering how you can get up close and personal with animals without having to take their freedoms away. Click here for 5 ways to interact with animals without cages. Or leave a suggestion of your own in the comments :)
There's some pretty kick ass mothers out there in the animal kingdom and some of them could use a little helping hand. So here are 5 awesome animal mums and how you can show them some love:
1. Harp seals
Harp seal mums will spend the first 12 days of their pup's life feeding the bub and protecting them from danger without eating anything themselves! During this time, the pup will rapidly pack on the kilos while mum dutifully fades away.
But, once mum has to leave the ice to find food for herself, her pup is in extreme danger of being killed by hunters for his fur. Click here to find out more and how you can take action for baby seals.
Did your mum ever sing you lullabies? Mother pigs have been known to 'sing' to their piglets :) This is believed to help let the babies know when her milk is flowing so that they can feed.
Sadly, mother pigs in factory farms are confined to tiny cages called 'farrowing crates' where they are barely able to move, let alone interact with their young :( You can help put an end to this suffering. Be a friend to pigs and take them off your plate.
Koalas carry their babies around on their backs for six months. SIX MONTHS! I hope that baby koala gets his mum a massage voucher every year for Mother's Day for the rest of his life.
If your mum is pretty special, why not tell her with an awesome pressie that she'll love and will help to create a kinder world for ALL mothers :) Click here to shop cruelty-free gifts.
Orca mums stay with their children for life! Personally, I'm not sure how I'd go living with my mum forever but it certainly shows a strong bond between mother orcas and their calves. In fact, female killer whales live a lot longer than males (up to 90 years!) and some research suggests that this is due to their never ending desire to care for their offspring. Nawww.
Knowing this, one of the saddest parts of watching the documentary Blackfish for me, was seeing baby whales separated from their mothers. It may be distressing to see these whales grieving for their calves but fortunately you can help end this cruelty by not supporting marine parks and deciding to never attend one.
Cows have very strong bonds with their calves. Like orcas, cows have been known to frantically call and search for their calves when they're separated. And most calves in the dairy industry are separated from their mums within days of being born.
A New York vet tells the story of one mother cow who proved the strength of her love, when she hid one of her calves after giving birth to twins. The vet suggests that she remembered losing her previous four calves, and probably guessed that if the farmer got his hands on them both, they would would be taken from her again :(
This intelligent and thoughtful mother managed to keep her baby hidden for 11 days before her secret was discovered. What was the giveaway? The farmer couldn't milk her because of course her calf was drinking all the milk she produced.
Sadly, like most mother cows in the dairy industry, she too was separated from her calf. All because her milk was to be bottled and sold for humans to drink. BUT you can help protect calves and their mums from this cruel cycle by giving dairy the flick. Click here to make the pledge today.
There are so many dairy free milk alternatives these days, that I'm like a kid in a candy store at the supermarket. Bonsoy is my fave in coffee, but almond milk tastes great on my cereal. And the best thing about them is that no cows lost their calves for these cartons of milk. Do you have a favourite dairy-free milk?
A drug scandal and a massive drop in popularity. Sounds like an episode of E!News right? Rather, it's the latest reports to come out about SeaWorld (in the US).
Leaked documents reveal that SeaWorld trainers give psychoactive drugs to some of their marine animals. The drug – benzodiazepine – is the same stuff used in common human medications Valium and Xanax – to treat anxiety. I don't know about you, but I'm not surprised that animals at SeaWorld might be suffering from mental health issues. I'd be pretty miserable if I had to live my whole life in a bath tub. Keeping highly social and active animals like orcas in small tanks is just cruel.
But on a positive note, looks like people might be having second thoughts about visiting marine parks. SeaWorld has reported a 13% drop in attendance for the first three months of 2014 – almost half a million less people than during the same period in 2013.
And keeping the good news keeps rolling, a CNN poll found that 86% of people said that they wouldn't go to SeaWorld after learning about the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.
The story of Tilikum, a captive orca living at SeaWorld in Orlando, has touched countless people through the documentary 'Blackfish'. Although SeaWorld denies that the documentary is having any impact, the recent drop in visitors tells a different story.
You can make a difference for animals in marine parks simply by not attending them. Besides, there are plenty of ways to get close to animals without having to lock them up for their whole lives. Click here to watch an amazing encounter with a mother and baby whale in their natural habitat.
OMG. I saw Blackfish during the Melbourne International Film Festival and when Madman Films offered us some free tix to giveaway we jumped at the offer. Blackfish is a doco about a performing killer whale named Tilikum who lives in captivity in SeaWorld, Orlando. It is sooooo ... well it’s very sad but also GREAT that Tilikum’s story is being told. Check out the trailer here:
This movie is already having a massive impact in the U.S. A poll by CNN found that 86% of peoplesaid they wouldn’t go to SeaWorld after learning about the cruelty of keeping killer whales in captivity. Orcas are highly social and active animals and keeping them in small tanks (in Tilikum’s case) in isolation is unacceptable.
It’s so exciting that this film is coming to cinemas on November 21, so that Tilikum’s story can continue to reach people. And what’s even more exciting is that YOU get the chance to see it for FREE!*
There's 10 freebie tix all up so we’ll be giving 2 tickets to 1 winner from each of the following states/territories – NSW, QLD, SA, ACT and Vic. (Sorry if you live in WA, NT or Tas but no cinemas are showing Blackfish as yet :( Why not get in touch with your local cinema and let them know that you’d love them to screen it?)
SO, here’s how to win: Comment below with the coolest fact you know about killer whales. The ones that make my eyes pop out the most will be the winners :) The competition closes on Sunday 17th November so DON’T MISS OUT!
*The movie is only screening in 5 states/territories so please check the full list of venues below to make sure there’s one near you before entering the comp.
Last week I went to see the movie Blackfish. It’s a documentary about Tilikum, a whale who has been living in captivity in ‘amusement’ parks since he was 2 years old. If you missed it, here’s the trailer:
Needless to say, I cried and cried and wailed and snorted and hollered “Free Tilly” at the screen.
Orca whales are highly social animals, who swim many many kilometres per day. Yet, poor Tilikum is still living in a tiny tank in SeaWorld, Orlando. And he’s kept in isolation most of the time :(
Thankfully, I am not the only one who has been moved by this incredible documentary and there is hope for whales (and other captive animals) yet!
When the Pixar team saw Blackfish, they realised that captivity is not such a happy ending for animals. They sat down with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and made some drastic edits to the script of Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo, due to be released in 2015). Although little is known of the story line as yet, Pixar has said that while characters do travel to a marine park, they will have the option to go back to the ocean if they choose.
It’s not quite that simple in real life unfortunately BUT it is possible. Remember Free Willy? Willy was played by Keiko, and the movie had such an impact on the public that campaigning led to Keiko being moved to a sea-pen in Iceland waters where he eventually migrated to Norway. Although he was still cared for by professionals, he lived out the remainder of his life with a great deal of freedom.
Animal welfare groups in the U.S. are campaigning to get Tilikum released to a sea-pen and rehabilitated, just like Keiko. (You can add your name to the petition here).
But the best way that you can make a difference is by simply never visiting a marine park that makes animals perform. Just like rodeos and circuses that have animals, using animals for entertainment is unnecessary, and rarely provides animals with an environment that allows them to express their natural behaviours.
Despite the tears, it makes me so happy to see movies like Blackfish being made, exposing the significant problems with keeping wild animals in captivity. Have you seen any good animal documentaries lately? I’d love to hear about them.
With the Olympics done and dusted for another four years (good job, London) I was interested to read this story about half-man, half-fish Michael Phelps.
Yeah, ok - it's not a real story, but it's a pretty funny read. What isn't so funny is the fact that around the world, 1000s of whales and dolphins ("cetaceans" if you wanna impress your friends) are captured from the wild and delivered to oceanariums. There they'll live out their days in tiny tanks, sometimes being trained to perform tricks for human entertainment.
Everyone knows dolphins are amongst the smartest animals on Earth. They play with each other and body-surf at the beach; they've been observed wrapping their "noses" in sponge when searching for food to prevent grazes (c'mon, we've all been there!); and this is what blows me away: dolphins in a pod will stay with sick or injured friends, even pushing them up to the surface to breathe if they can't do it themselves!!
Locking cetaceans into tanks at SeaWorlds around the globe is pretty much like giving them a life sentence in prison. Just think of how huge the oceans are, and how far dolphins and whales would swim in a day. Imagine all the things they'd see and experience in a lifetime! Now think of how desperately bored and cooped up they must feel spending day and night in tanks not even a fraction the size of their natural habitat. Sucks, doesn't it?
As long as dolphins and whales are kept locked up in tanks for human entertainment and their best interests aren't taken into account, we're going to keep seeing stories like the one where two dolphins died after a rave was allowed right next to their pool. (Whaaat?!) Or despite the fact that there has not been a single recorded instance of a wild orca ever seriously injuring or killing a human, a captive orca in the US has now killed three people in separate incidents. There is also the sad story of Kuru the dolphin who jumped out of her tank during a show.
There must be a hundred different ways you can see and interact with animals that aren't harmful. Volunteer at a native wildlife rescue and rehab centre or animal refuge. How about snorkelling or scuba diving? You're not going to see a man standing on a dolphins back ... but really, who would wanna see that anyway??
Got any stories of seeing dolphins or whales in the wild? We'd love to hear them in the comments.
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.