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SeaWorld Orlando just announced that the band Daughtry, led by American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry, would headline one day of their upcoming music festival (along with Alabama, Steve Miller Band and Foreigner). Sign the petition and urge these performers to cancel their appearances to send the message that killer whales don't belong in captivity.
Since the film "Blackfish" aired extensively on CNN, a massive outcry has demanded an end to the inhumane practice of keeping these intelligent, highly social animals in enclosures the relative size of hot tubs. It is heartbreaking that these orcas have been stripped of their families and their ability to live in the wild, swimming hundreds of miles, hunting as a pack, and caring for their young together. All for the entertainment of tourists and the enrichment of SeaWorld's corporate profits.
Sign this petition to add your voice to the call to end orcas in captivity, and ask Chris Daughtry to stand against the horrible treatment of such amazing animals. Click to help!
What SeaWorld Won’t Tell You About Dawn Brancheau’s Death. SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau began her Dine With Shamu show on February 24, 2010, just as she had many times before, but this particular show included a gruesome finale that left Brancheau’s body without her left arm or part of her scalp, among other injuries. Dawn Brancheau was declared dead shortly after the show, but still, six years later, SeaWorld claims no responsibility for the vicious attack. So just how did one of SeaWorld’s most experienced and celebrated trainers end up crushed and drowned by the jaws of the marine park’s largest attraction?
—Former SeaWorld Trainer Jeffrey Ventre
A Killer Whale Is Born
Former SeaWorld trainer Jeffrey Ventre blamed Tilikum for Brancheau’s death, but the truth begins with the wild orca’s capture near Iceland in 1983. At just 2 years old, he was torn from his mother and their ocean home and sent to the rundown marine park Sealand of the Pacific. Food was withheld from him as a training technique, and he endured attacks from the two dominant female orcas, whom he was forced to live with. After years of performing eight shows a day, seven days a week, Tilikum dragged Sealand trainer Keltie Byrne to the bottom of the pool, where he and the other orcas stripped her of all her clothing and left bite marks and bruises on her skin. It took nearly two hours to retrieve her body. Not long after Keltie’s death, Sealand closed its doors, and its orcas were purchased by SeaWorld.
Trainer (believed to be Dawn Brancheau) with an orca
—Former SeaWorld Trainer Samantha Berg
History Repeats Itself
As Dawn Brancheau lay next to Tilikum, petting him in just a few inches of water, she likely had no reason to suspect that she was about to be torn apart. According to one of SeaWorld’s own employees, the event was unpredictable and the orca gave no indication that he was about to grab her. Even if Brancheau had spotted signs that Tilikum might act aggressively, would SeaWorld’s star performer have done anything differently? Maybe not—trainers were expected to continue performances, regardless of any signs that an orca might act out.
In one case, trainers ended a show after an orca began to ignore signals, swim rapidly, and grab at one of the trainer’s arms. In response, SeaWorld’s vice president for animal training criticized their actions in a two-page document claiming that the show should not have been ended early because it brought unnecessary attention to the incident. He argued that the trainers should have used other resources before canceling the show, despite SeaWorld’s official position that trainers could end a show at any time if they felt uncomfortable.
Why were SeaWorld trainers being forced to interact so closely with these enormous wild mammals? This was precisely the issue at the center of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) investigation. The agency cited SeaWorld for multiple violations and demanded that the company stop putting trainers at risk by making them interact with orcas during shows.
The Truth Comes Out
SeaWorld finally gave up on appealing its violations, but not before OSHA presented damning evidence that seems to imply that SeaWorld may be responsible for its own trainer’s death. OSHA found that in the 20 years leading up to Brancheau’s death, the park generated 100 reports of aggression and precursors to aggression—including 12 incidents resulting in the injury or death of a trainer—and according to SeaWorld’s own corporate curator for zoological operations, there were times that the company didn’t document incidents at all, which can be evidenced by SeaWorld’s failure to generate an incident report for Dawn Brancheau’s death and for a third death that Tilikum may have previously been involved with.
Tilikum, one of the largest orcas held captive at SeaWorld, has been in captivity for over 30 years. His sperm has been used to father over half the orcas at SeaWorld's parks, even though he has killed three humans.
More than six years after the “accident,” there are still concerns about Dawn Brancheau’s last day as a SeaWorld trainer that have grave implications. Why did the marine park wait for 27 minutes to call for paramedics after Tilikum pulled Brancheau into the water? Was the park using this time to remove witnesses whose accounts didn’t match the story that SeaWorld was trying to create to make it seem as if her ponytail had triggered Tilikum’s reaction? Perhaps most importantly, why did SeaWorld’s then-owner try to blame his own orca trainer for her death—even after the OSHA investigation uncovered that the same safety measures and recall signals that had failed to prevent Dawn Brancheau’s death had been failing for years? And why did SeaWorld continue to rely on those failed measures?
“Let’s face it, in these types of incidents, I don’t recall any whale responding to any hand slap, food bucket, or any other distraction we tried to implement.”
—Internal SeaWorld document
The evidence in the judge’s decision seems to indicate that SeaWorld tried to downplay the risks and dangers that its trainers would encounter while working with captive orcas and to cover up its own failures in the incident that led to Dawn Brancheau’s death. SeaWorld wasn’t even willing to put the life of its own star trainer before profit, so why should anyone trust that it would ever put the well-being of its captive animals first?
To help all animals held captive by SeaWorld, please never buy a ticket, visit the parks, or support SeaWorld in any other way, and urge the marine park to stop raping orcas!
SeaWorld Admits It Infiltrated an Animal Rights Group. The company’s board has ordered employees to stop posing as activists to obtain information on groups like PETA.
SeaWorld has found itself in hot water again.
On Thursday, SeaWorld chief executive Joel Manby told investors the theme park operator had employees pose as activists to infiltrate People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
This admission comes months after PETA accused SeaWorld employee Paul McComb of working for the animal rights group under the alias Thomas Jones. PETA claimed McComb attended anti-SeaWorld meetings and protests, asked for insider secrets from other protesters, and encouraged aggressive and illegal tactics during demonstrations.
At the time, SeaWorld officials denied the claims but put McComb put on temporary leave. He has since returned to the company, according to Manby.
“Following the completion of an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel, the board has directed that the company’s management team end a practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of company employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats that the company had received,” SeaWorld said in a statement issued after Manby discussed the issue with investors during a conference call Thursday.
The move didn’t placate PETA. “If SeaWorld had business savvy or common sense, it would modernize its business with coastal sanctuaries and virtual reality displays instead of building more dolphin prisons,” the organization said in a statement.
Manby has worked to reshape the SeaWorld image since he took over as chief executive last April. The company is still recovering from the fallout from the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which focused on mistreatment of captive killer whales at SeaWorld parks. Manby has ordered an end to orca shows at SeaWorld San Diego and approved the construction of exhibits and rides to increase park attendance.
Though SeaWorld’s 2015 revenue rose to $268 million—up 1 percent from the previous year—net income was down 1.6 percent to $49 million.
PETA suggested SeaWorld address larger problems. Since November, an animal has died every month at the company’s San Antonio park.
What’s even crazier is that we don’t know all that much about many of the animals we might think of as familiar. Take whales as an example. Even though there are dozens of organizations that focus primarily on studying whales, their migration patterns remain a mystery to us and we’ve only just begun to grasp how they communicate and interact with one another. Perhaps this is part of the reason why this video is all that much more exciting to see.
The kayakers featured may have been prepared to see some marine animals on their morning trip – but from the looks of it, they got a little more whale than anyone could have expecting that morning! The giant marine animals don’t seem to even notice the people around them as they dive up and down from the water.
While the poor boaters were probably more shocked than anything at the time of this encounter, we’re sure that they paddled away knowing they had just seen to best show of their lives. Videos like this one just go to show that SeaWorld and other marine parks can’t hold a candle to the real thing.
Blackfish is Winning Battle Against Marine Captivity in the West – Now There’s a War in Asia. It’s worth remembering that money is behind most animal cruelty – it’s business and business is always looking for new markets. Standing on the shoulders of animal welfare giants, the movie Blackfish was the beginning of the end for western animal performance using dolphins and killer whales. As the number of people in Europe and America willing to pay to see this cruelty diminishes – and with the likes of SeaWorld on the run – it’s worth remembering that they too are customers. When SeaWorld stopped expanding, its cruel suppliers started to look elsewhere. They looked east.
Target: Dr. Barbara Kohn, Senior Staff Veterinarian of APHIS
Goal: Ensure better care of aquatic life by imposing new rules on aquatic theme parks.
The USDA has proposed new rules that will positively affect all animals at aquatic parks. These changes to the Animal Welfare Act will help ensure that captive creatures can maintain good health without discomfort. After numerous reports of inhabitable living conditions, the standards for these mammals need to be raised and enforced. Urge the USDA to put these proposed regulations into action immediately.
Whether or not you are opposed to animals living in captivity, we can all agree that regulations need to change. Marine park cetaceans, such as dolphins and whales, often suffer from eye and skin problems. These issues are associated with poor water conditions and over-exposure to the sun. Sea World even puts black zinc oxide (sunblock) on their orcas so park attendees don’t notice the sun burns.
If the new USDA regulations are enacted then proper shading of outdoor pools would be mandatory. Light would have to be changed for indoor pools as well. A mandatory six hours of darkness would be enforced so that their indoor environment mimics their natural habitat. The rule would also implement new salinity standards and stop the use of over-chlorination.
All of the proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act will benefit marine animals found at aquatic parks. Stricter regulations on parks will ensure that these animals are treated more humanely and live longer. Urge the USDA to pass these new rules into law so marine parks can start taking proper care of their animals.
Dear Dr. Kohn,
The USDA and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has recently proposed new amendments to the Animal Welfare Act regarding the care of animals at aquatic parks. The new changes would significantly increase the well-being of animals at marine parks. All around the United States, these captive animals suffer skin and eye diseases from improperly treated water and poor facilities. The new proposals regarding salinity, lighting, and temperature standards will reduce if not eliminate these problems entirely.
All animals belong in the wild, but if they are going to live in captivity then they need to be properly cared for. The suggested changes to the Animal Welfare Act will ensure this proper care. The parks will more closely mimic their natural environment, causing less stress and fewer health problems in these beloved mammals. I urge you to help these beautiful creatures by passing the proposed amendments immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Leon7Racing Extinction Clever Universe,,Scientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. They believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth's history. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or 'Age of Man', because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. We are the only ones who can stop it as well. The Oceanic Preservation Society, the group behind the Academy Award® winning film THE COVE, is back for "Racing Extinction". Along with some new innovators, OPS will bring a voice to the thousands of species on the very edge of life. An unlikely team of activists is out to expose the two worlds endangering species across the globe. The first threat to the wild comes from the international trade of wildlife. Bogus markets are being created at the expense of creatures who have survived on this planet for millions of years. The other threat is all around us, hiding in plain sight. There's a hidden world that the oil and gas companies don't want the rest of us to see. Director Louie Psihoyos has concocted an ambitious mission to call attention to our impact on the planet, while inspiring others to embrace the solutions that will ensure a thriving planet for future generations.
The very oceans you love face deadly dangers in the weeks ahead.
Right now, the U.S. Arctic Ocean is drill-free. Right now, the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast is drill-free.
But that could be about to change. Right now, the White House is considering a proposal to drill in the Arctic and Atlantic. If we don’t fight back, Big Oil gets their way and vulnerable marine life like dolphins, whales and sea turtles face the danger of drilling and spills.
Will you join our all-out push to protect the Atlantic, the Arctic and vulnerable marine life like dolphins right now?
With your donation of $20 or more you’ll receive a special gift in recognition of your commitment to save our oceans.
There’s no such thing as totally safe drilling. If we allow Big Oil in the Arctic and the Atlantic the threat of a catastrophic Deepwater Horizon like disaster and routine spills will loom large.
More than 1,000 sick dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico died in the five years following Deepwater, many from lesions linked to oil exposure.1 Just imagine an unprecedented number of dead dolphins washing ashore from Long Island, N.Y. to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The thought of failing those dolphins and our oceans makes me sick.
But there’s still time to prevent tragedy in the Arctic and Atlantic! Become a 2016 Oceana member now >>
Oceana member support has helped us win victories for oceans around the world. Today, I want to give you the opportunity to receive something in addition to the satisfaction of making a difference:
Oceana members are the heart of our campaigns and grassroots network. Your dependable support and commitment to our oceans allows us to know how far we can expand and stretch our campaigns to protect our oceans.
As an Oceana member you make a difference.