In a video originally posted to Instagram by keiko_conservation, we see the tragic sight of a helpless orca held in captivity in Russia. The orca, identified as Juliet, is forced to perform for an audience at the Moskvarium when one of her companions pushes her out of the pool, for unknown reasons. What transpires next is heartbreaking. Juliet struggles on land, her body suffering from its monumental weight which she, of course, doesn’t have a problem with if she was free in the water. Juliet’s suffering may feel overwhelming, but it’s just one part of a much bigger issue.

Life in captivity for orcas is NOTHING like it is in the wild. A simple comparison of the behaviors between a captive orca and a wild one is stunning — they are so different! Despite the suffering of orcas in captivity, and the many signs that no whale of any kind belongs in captivity, businesses worldwide are still stealing them from them their families and their home. Some orcas have been in captivity, alone, for decades. After all of this injustice for the sake of “entertainment,” intelligent creatures like Juliet are forced to perform for cheap laughs.

Despite all the bad, people are organizing and fighting for orcas. United States Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington announced his co-sponsorship of the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA), which seeks to ban orca captivity and breeding in the United States. Change starts with us, however. We can start by never attending shows like this or parks that use live animals for “entertainment,” and encourage others to do the same. We can share content like this, engage with “Empty The Tanks” content across the web, and continue building a culture that doesn’t sit by and passively watch the exploitation of animals. We must fight for Juliet and all orcas who deserve their freedom, at the very least.

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