I have a subscription to "Outside" magazine compliments of my sister(yep Lynn I'm still getting them), and in the latest issue was an excellent article about the exploitation of Orcas in the wild for mega profits. It closely examined the death of a top Sea World trainer not so long ago when she was finishing up after a killer whale show. The article exposed industry practices as well as the lifestyles and deaths of Killer Whales used in theme parks, including a detailed account of one whale's life in particular. His name is Tilikum. This orca has killed two people and injured countless others.
Very important questions were posed and I can never step foot in a Sea World again. They have done an excellent job of hiding the horrors these animals have suffered touting the importance of their sacrifices for educational purposes. For that reason alone I have gone to Sea World in the past because I believed I was helping to support a good cause, but damn was I naive about it all. True they have done some very good educational things and made great strides in breeding programs, veterinarian medicine, etc...but is it acceptable how they got there?
In a nutshell no. The article outlined the history of how these whales became captive and I have to believe things could have been different were the motivations different. But throw in human greed and animals lose out every time...in turn we lose out too. Seaworld no longer use captured whales in their facilities other than the ones they already acquired. They at least breed the animals now, but again I still question the purpose other than money of course. I think the public is pretty aware by now the importance of nature conservation and the need for places like Seaworld seems outdated.
I hope readers will seek out the article I read and decide for themselves. In the meantime there are some human deaths to deal with. The bottom line is humans are not supposed to swim with killer whales as death and serious injury can occur. We have labels on everything now days warning us of dangers. I think it is a no brainer that extreme caution must be used in the presence of such natural power these animals possess. It is painfully obvious in fact, and wild animal trainers know the danger is real.
I don't think this has ever been a matter of question, but one huge question the article posed is this. Did Tilikum kill his trainer on purpose? In my mind the answer is hands down yes. After reading the article and doing a little research, I believe these poor whales have gone insane as a result of their captive lifestyles. I believe that orcas and other higher brained sea mammals are intelligent sentient beings who kill as a regular part of their existence. Changing the playing field doesn't change millions of years of instinct. And when conditions are right, disasters are easy to come by.