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Meet the Orcas Who Are Suing SeaWorld

Written by PETA | October 26, 2011

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.

          Let the Blackstone Group (which owns SeaWorld) know that its days of keeping animals in tanks for profit are numbered. Please click here to e-mail them today!


          Written by Jennifer O’Connor

          Commenting is closed.
          • karliene says:

            sad stuff a big thanks to the person who turned in the video

          • Deenie says:

            My heart was and is totally bleeding as I saw the video and read everything. Never visit any Sea world park in my life as I grew up in germany and we do not have Sea World. I once visit a theme park here where they had a dolphin, who died years later (they never had a dolphin again. God thank god!!)

          • Andrea S. says:

            I lived in Orlando for a few years and went to Sea World with my Mom for my 25th birthday. It was one of the greatest days of my life! BUT that was over 25 years ago, and now I truly realize how wrong it is to keep these animals imprisoned. I’m with you PETA!

          • drgfly99 says:

            It’s so sad that Seaworld is allowed to get away with this. Thankful to PETA for standing up for these beautiful and so very intelligent animals! I will keep spreading the word.. One person can make a difference!

          • Jacqueline Russell says:

            I believe these orca, and all cetacea, should be set free from their Sea World prisons, and I have believed this all my life. While at school, I was part of the release of the last 3 captive dolphins in the UK, Rocky, Missie and Silver (In to the Blue). I wrote an article on the subject of dolphins and whales in Sea World jail back in 1988, and I have raised many petitions to get Keiko and Cory released. This is slavery, no question. Rehabilitate them in a sea pen, just like Rocky, then SET THEM FREE back in the area of their family pods.

          • Marie says:

            Please make sure you free Morgan too at Sea World in Spain. She needs to be released! Thank you. God grant favor to the Orca’s so that they may be released, in Jesus name! Thank you!!

          • Nicki says:

            Rob, obviously you don’t have a clue what is going on. This whale was kidnapped! Snatched from his home and has been caged ever since. You don’t see anything wrong with this? He is distressed, agitated and scared. What would you do if you were snatched up and taken in as a slave? Wouldn’t you be pretty pissed off too? It’s sad that lives were taken, but it is expected. He has every right to fight for his life. Living in a concrete block is no way to live. If this whale had never been captured, then NO lives would have been lost.

          • rktgirl says:

            To ROB: I don’t think you got the story straight. Tilikum was being tortured and in chronic pain because of the what the people had done to him. He was trying to escape, the same thing you’d have done. He most certainly did not “have it coming.” We don’t have to play god, we only have to respect other living creatures. Plus, your comment begs the question: where do we draw the other line? The one where we start dividing up people into subspecies based on their appearances, the skin color, there I.Q.’s? I was really hoping we, the human race were finally past all that. But it looks like we’re at square one.. To Evan: The line you should draw is simple: Can the creature feel pain? Any kind of pain, including emotional pain and fear? If at all possible, can you allow it to peacefully co-exist, and if so, do so. To Gabriele Wood. If you are awaiting divine intervention, you are burying your head in the sand. It will be PEOPLE who save these creatures. No one else. So you’d better get busy. This problem could be solved in a week if we could all see the situation for what it is, and donate, build, write letters, and above all else, RESPECT anything that is capable of feeling pain.

          • rob says:

            tilkum has what ever is done to him coming he don’t deserve freedom he is a killer and should be treated like a prisoner

            • You clearly don’t understand. THERE ARE 0 INCIDENTS of ANY Orca harming a human in the wild. It’s natural habitat. How would you like to be stuck in a bathtub, and started for 40 years, forced to primp up and perform for your food, and when its over… right back to your holding cell. You would be sick in the head, frustrated, angry. You need to do more research. How about this, since he’s killed…why not let him go? Get rid of him! Set him free. No, they won’t. WHY? Because his sperm = MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars. THEY are continuing to breed with genes that have been tampered with. Both parents held in captivity, a father who is overly aggressive. They don’t care about anything but the MONEY. The owners of these whales.THOSE are the monsters. THEY are the ones responsible for the lives of those lost. Do you think getting in a pool with a 120,000 pound animal is NATURAL!? Get real!

          • Evan says:

            Has anyone considered the legal precident that this would set if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the orcas? If orcas are people, then why not dolphins? Apes? Cats? Fish? Spiders? Where do we draw the line between person and non-person?

          • nihal bhat says:

            this is just poor. how dare do man do this to these intelligent, lovable creatures. should be left alone. do we do this to other humans? definitely not .

          • Siobhan says:

            @ed thats the point, you have hit the nail on the head, PETA is Vegan and Vegans believe in speciesism, which is all animals being treated equal to humans and one another, no matter their species, we do not believe in using ANY animals for anything, including for food, clothing, products, testing, pets and entertainment. Many Vegans still live with “pets”, we often only look after “pets” that we rescued or had before we became Vegan, but we do not OWN them, they are not OURS, they have their own thoughts and their own feelings and we do not expect them to live around our needs. I think PETA would be cheering if all the animals everywhere released from cruel “entertainment” facilities such as Sea World and factory farms; so again, you hit the nail on the head.

          • EmilyandDamien says:

            Orcas are my favorite animals, and I much rather watch them in the wild then in some small tank doing stupid, pointless tricks!!!! I hope you win!

          • Lioba Multer says:

            Bravo PETA!

          • ed says:

            Just would like to point out if you do this and win the case then you would need to free all the animals even the ones that we feed on or get milk from or eggs. if you say one animal is being enslaved then all of them are also being enslaved. I can understand why you are going for Orca’s but to do this will cause ruckus all over the world.

          • Gabriele Wood says:

            There is God, The Higher Power, Karma. Every time I don’t know what else to say, I say this. And there are consequences if you look around.

          • Robbie T says:

            Bravo! slavery is slavery, plain and simple

          • Tawnie says:

            That video really exposed alot…i felt so bad for that poor orca it was so desperately calling to its family, which could only watch and call out in pain and sadness, how could those people do that do they not have feelings what if they were kidnapped from the familes??? Good luck PETA i know you can do this!!

          • Alyssa says:

            Thank you PETA for standing up on the behalf of these amazing creatures who have no voice of thier own (at least not one that the human species can fully understand).

          • Erin says:

            I didn’t realize the extent of what was going on there.. Thank you PETA for opening up my eyes to this..

          • Shauna says:

            I sent a personal email to one of the Seaworld facilities this year about their captive programme for these poor Orca’s and they just justified everything that I asked them to rectify, saying the whales enjoyed their performances. It is a nasty greedy organisation and I would like to see all of them shut down permanently. No creature should be treated the way these Orca have been treated and no creature should ever be stolen from its family especially when there is such a bond between the family members, as there is with Orca. The organisation makes me sick. I hope PETA can gain control over these poor things and provide them with some love and care so they don’t die a sad and miserable death.

          • Paul says:

            So Sea World says these rights don’t extend to animals (which is probably technically/legally correct) yet they say in the same press release that the public has a “right” to enjoy (in other words “use”) the marine mammals… where the @&%$ in the constitution is that right listed? I don’t seem to recall hearing about that amendment….c’mon Sea World! You can’t have it both ways!

          • Curtis says:

            Awesome! Fox News has run this story. Someone from PETA’s media dept should get booked for an interview on FNC!

          • Hilary says:

            I had no idea this was going on behind the scenes at Sea World. This makes me so sad. I hope these orcas get returned to their natural environment.

          • Terry Porter says:

            This isnt Right!!! We need to stop being mean to Animals!!!!!!!!!!