Federal Records Exposing Injuries to Dolphin and Trainer at SeaWorld Orlando Kept from Public

For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Orlando, Fla.

PETA has just obtained federal records revealing multiple attacks at SeaWorld Orlando, including one by a group of dolphins against a dolphin whom they left bleeding, and another in which an orca bit a trainer, who was sent to the hospital with multiple fractures.

Both reports offer a glimpse into the aggression that marine mammal experts believe to be caused by the enormous stress and deep frustration that cetaceans endure at the facility:

  • According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in October a group of dolphins repeatedly attacked a dolphin named Rascal until he lay on his side bleeding. The agency cited SeaWorld for its failure to get him out of harm’s way in a timely manner, especially given that the facility knew that he had recently endured attacks so severe that he had been left trembling and bleeding with rake marks (the injuries and scarring formed when cetaceans use their teeth to scrape the skin of other animals) covering 30% of his body, including his face. PETA notes that just days after SeaWorld reportedly separated Rascal from his attackers, a visitor witnessed another attack and posted it on TikTok.
  • A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reveals that in June, a trainer used a spray bottle to dislodge paint chips from the orca Malia’s mouth. When the employee got too close, Malia bit down on their arm and wrist, which then required surgery for multiple fractures.

Several SeaWorld trainers have reported that stressed orcas are known to peel the paint off their tiny tanks, and the USDA has previously cited SeaWorld for peeling paint, highlighting the dangers it could pose if ingested. Frustrated orcas also break their teeth chewing on the metal bars and concrete sides of their tanks.

“As long as SeaWorld continues to confine stressed-out animals, they’ll continue attacking each other and their trainers and desperately gnawing at their tanks out of frustration,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on SeaWorld to protect both dolphins and trainers by sending these animals to sea sanctuaries, just as the Miami Seaquarium is preparing to do for orca Lolita.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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