Meet the Orcas Who Are Suing SeaWorld
Let us introduce you to the five orcas forced to perform at SeaWorld parks who are at the center of the lawsuit PETA filed today maintaining that they are being held as slaves in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But first, please take a moment to watch this video footage, which shows orcas swimming freely in the wild—as they are meant to do—followed by their traumatic capture. When they are ripped away from their families, these sensitive, intelligent animals cry and fight for their freedom—and they are affected by their ordeal for the rest of their lives.
In the wild, orcas are typically always in motion, even when they are resting. They travel up to 100 miles every day and spend up to 90 percent of their time under the water’s surface—something that’s nearly impossible to do at SeaWorld, where only two of the seven tanks are as deep as an orca is long.
Orcas are among the most social animals on the planet and naturally spend their entire lives in close-knit communities, enjoying their own cultures and dialects. They are also sound-oriented animals; sound is their primary sense. When we capture them and put them in concrete boxes, we take away the two most important things in their lives: their families and the world of sound.
Here are the tragic stories of the five orcas who are suing SeaWorld:
Tilikum was captured from his home and family off the coast of Iceland when he was just 2 years old and sold to SeaWorld in 1992. Faced with calls to free him, SeaWorld urged the Icelandic government not to return him to Icelandic waters and prevented his release.
You likely remember Tilikum because he’s the orca who last year turned his aggression and frustration on his trainer and killed her—the third person he’s killed during his years of confinement and chronic pain.
For a year after the attack, Tilikum was punished with total isolation from other orcas, with much of that time spent in a concrete tank just 2 feet longer than he is.
Tilikum no longer has teeth on his bottom jaw as a result of continually gnawing at the steel gates between enclosures. His teeth are now broken, leaving the pulp exposed and resulting in chronic pain. Tilikum is being driven insane by the unmitigated monotony of his existence.
Tilikum is now the primary stud in SeaWorld’s orca-breeding mill. His sperm has been used to produce some two-thirds of all orcas born at the theme parks. He’s been trained to roll over and present his penis to trainers who masturbate him repeatedly to collect his sperm for breeding.
In October 1978, 2-year-old baby Katina and her 1-year-old pod mate, Kasatka, were captured by hunters off the coast of Iceland and sold to SeaWorld San Diego in 1979. In the fall of 1984, the two were separated when Katina was shipped to SeaWorld Orlando, where she remains today.
Katina was forced to breed when only 9 years old, much younger than orcas breed in nature. Since then, she’s been used as a virtual breeding machine, delivering six more calves and even being inbred with one of her sons.
Like Tilikum, many of Katina’s teeth are missing as a result of her stress-induced chewing on the tank grids.
Kasatka has been at SeaWorld for three decades and has been forced to perform as many as eight shows a day.
Ulises was ripped from his ocean home in 1980, when he was 3 years old. He’s been at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly two decades, where he’s suffered injuries and stress from being bullied by incompatible tank mates.
Corky was kidnapped from her family in 1969 when she was only 3. She has endured the longest captivity of any wild-captured orca, enslaved for more than 40 years.
Corky has suffered seven forced pregnancies (she was continuously pregnant for almost 10 years from 1977 to 1986), and none of her calves survived more than 46 days. Her last stillborn fetus was found at the bottom of her holding tank.
She is reportedly blind in her left eye, and her upper and lower teeth are worn and decayed.
It’s time to end the slavery of orcas who are denied everything that is natural and important to them, exploited as breeding machines, and forced to perform for SeaWorld’s profit. The public is ready, the orcas are definitely ready, and PETA believes that the law is on our side.
Written by Jennifer O’Connor