The issue of cetacean captivity has been a hot topic in animal rights for decades, but largely thanks to eye-opening documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove, it has become a mainstream concern as well.
These films revealed how captive cetaceans are mercilessly captured in the wild, torn away from their family pods, kept in unnatural, inadequate, and astoundingly cramped enclosures, and forced to perform “tricks” for noisy crowds in exchange for food. In captive breeding programs, animals are forcibly impregnated, and babies are immediately taken away from their mothers at birth, resulting in days and weeks-long ear-piercing cries from the devastated mothers. Life in captivity causes serious medical conditions, including zoochosis, a severe psychological disorder exhibited by compulsive, often self-destructive behavior, like pacing, chewing on enclosures, or even attempting suicide. Collapsed dorsal fins, broken and missing teeth, scars and injuries from fights resulting from sharing tiny spaces, and shortened lifespans are the norm for cetaceans in captivity, but thankfully, it seems the tides are slowly turning for the better.
The public pressure resulting from the knowledge of the severe abuse and neglect captive cetaceans endure has urged lawmakers to begin protecting these magnificent sea creatures. California banned captive orca breeding and shows in 2016, Vancouver banned keeping newly-acquired cetaceans in captivity in 2017, and now a bill has been introduced in Florida that would ban captive orca breeding and shows.
Florida is home to SeaWorld in Orlando and the Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita the orca has been living in isolation in a tank less than twice her size for over 45 years. A petition on Care2 has been set up for the public to voice their opinion and encourage Florida lawmakers to pass the bill that would end orca breeding and shows in the state. Please take a moment to sign the petition in support of Lolita and all the other captive cetaceans used for “entertainment” in Florida.
The easiest way to combat cetacean captivity is by never purchasing a ticket to a facility that exploits animals for a profit. Some people are still entirely unaware of the brutal reality of cetacean captivity, so please make sure to spread awareness of this serious issue and share this with your network!
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons