SeaWorld is a popular attraction for visitors, but their orca division has been under fire by the media, as well as ex-fans and tourists about mistreatment of their killer whales.
Outrage was sparked on social media this week after one park-goer, Morgan Monitors, shared a video on Vimeo of one of the orca whales (who was also named Morgan) beaching itself during a performance at the park.
The video shows the orca laying on the ground beside the water and lying motionless, apart from stretching its head and tail in what almost looks like a cry of agony. Many Tweets and social media posts would agree.
It can be seen below:
Many groups against SeaWorld’s killer whale captivity have been very vocal about this video and have made public comments. Dolphin Project, which is a group that stands solidly against the captivity of whales at SeaWorld, was one of them.
“This is one of many examples of what is wrong with captivity. One would never see this bizarre behavior in nature,” said Richard O’Barry, the founder of Dolphin Project.
SeaWorld has responded to the event noting that the behavior is actually quite normal. In a statement to Sky News, SeaWorld says:
"The orcas at Loro Parque are trained to leave the water on their own accord. This behavior is used for manifold purposes, for example, for presenting the animals to the public, for conducting corporal check-ups, for inspecting their blowholes, as well as for testing hearing abilities of the orcas.”
"During their free time, sometimes animals get on stage, even go sliding from side to side. This is done quite naturally, often associated with game dynamics. Pretending that's a stress test shows an enormous ignorance about the behavior of these animals."
It's worth noting that SeaWorld has announced plans to pull the plug on orca shows in California, but not in other states in the United States. The decision was based strongly on the opinion of park-goers, who don't like seeing these free-roaming creatures stuck in small, man-made swimming boxes. The park also says it will no longer breed the species.
Since the posting the video, the hashtag #FreeMorgan has appeared online and is being used by people around the world to show support for the killer whale. Clearly, the public has spoken and wants the animal to be released to the wild.
Source: Sky News, Mashable