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Best Way to See Orcas

New video says ‘Don’t buy a ticket to a marine circus’

Grandma J2 puts on a show for her fans in the Pacific Northwest. Courtesy the Orca Network

You can see them in their ocean home. And you can see them in captivity. One is a thrilling experience of real life; the other is a circus show.

In the ocean, orcas (killer whales) travel hundreds of miles at a time in big extended families. Male orcas rarely leave their mothers as long as they live. And mothers often like to bring their newborns up to whale-watching boats and lift the babes out of the water to show them off. In captivity at marine circuses, by contrast, mothers often simply kill their newborns because they’re so stressed and don’t have the support of their families.

Take the pledge: Don’t buy a ticket!

This week, The Orca Project has released a new video about the differences between life for killer whale families in the wild and in captivity.

The video also invites you to “Take the pledge: Don’t buy a ticket.” Please go to this page on The Orca Project to add your name to those who have already said they won’t be taking their family to SeaWorld or any of the other marine circuses. And please share it with your friends, too.

The video was prepared by Leah Lemieux, author of the book Rekindling the Waters, and Lori Marino, Ph.D., neuroscientist at Emory University, who has studied dolphins and whales for more than 20 years and is the science editor of this website.

“We want people to see the amazing rich family life orcas lead in the ocean, and how captivity not only destroys individual dolphins and whales but tears whole families apart,” Marino said.

In a few weeks, SeaWorld will find itself back in court for the next round of hearings stemming from the killing of trainer Dawn Brancheau by orca Tilikum, who dragged her into his tank and killed her over a period of 20 minutes as a horrified audience looked on.

After an investigation into Brancheau’s death, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) cited SeaWorld with “willful neglect.”

The video shows the difference between life for orcas in the ocean, where they live in large, highly social family groups, and life in captivity, where they live in barren, lonely tanks.

Tilikum, now a 30-year-old orca at SeaWorld Orlando, was torn away from his mother when he was two years old.

Tilikum, now a 30-year-old male orca at SeaWorld Orlando, was torn away from his mother when he was two years old. (Given how long young orcas stay with their mothers in order to mature, that’s exactly like a two-year-old human baby being taken from his mother.) He’s been living in a tank ever since. No surprise he snapsfrom time to time. No surprise they all do. You would, too. And because of the stress, most orcas live only a few short years in captivity, as compared with up to 90 years in the wild.

But none of this suffering and none of these “accidents” happen in the ocean.

“While there have been numerous deaths, injuries and other incidents at these marine circuses,” Marino said, “there’s not a single case on record of an orca in the wild ever having killed anyone.”

Here at Zoe, we’re joining with The Orca Project in inviting everyone who watches this video to take the pledge not to buy a ticket to marine parks with captive dolphins and whales and to share this important message with family, friends and colleagues.