Save Animals

8 Shocking Facts About SeaWorld

You wouldn’t want to live in a bathtub for your entire life, right? That’s basically what life is like at SeaWorld for the orcas and other marine animals who are forced to live there and perform “tricks” for noisy crowds. Instead of living freely with their families in the ocean, these intelligent, social animals spend their days swimming in endless circles in tiny tanks. They are denied everything that is natural and important to them.

SeaWorld wants people to think it’s helping animals, but that’s just not true. Here are eight things that are true about SeaWorld:

1. Orcas’ Sunburns Are Covered Up With Black Zinc Oxide

You know how your parents cover you with sunblock before you go out in the sun to make sure you don’t get burned? Well, in the wild, orcas spend 95 percent of their time deep down in the ocean to protect themselves from the sun. Since the orcas at SeaWorld live in shallow pools with chemical-filled water and can’t hide from the sunlight, they get a lot of sunburns.

Workers usually cover up the burns with black zinc oxide, which matches the orcas’ skin. Although zinc oxide is also used as sunblock, it’s usually put on the orcas once they’re already burned so the public can’t see how hurt they are.

2. Some Orcas Were Kidnapped From Their Families

Orca In Net© Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.
Five of the orcas living at SeaWorld today were stolen from their families in the wild. For example, Tilikum is a whale who was taken from his ocean home when he was only 2 years old. Can you imagine being taken away from your family at that young age?

People stole him because they knew they could sell him to a company like SeaWorld for a lot of money. He’s been trapped in a tank at the park, away from his whole family, for the past 30 years.

3. Many Orcas Have Been Killed During Efforts to Catch Them

Captured Orca© Terrell C. Newby, Ph.D.
In 1965, the first-ever orca show at SeaWorld San Diego was performed by a whale named Shamu. When Shamu was stolen from her family in the ocean, a hunter named Ted Griffin killed her mom right in front of her. Ted’s partner, Don Goldsberry, went on to hurt and kill many more orcas after Shamu’s mom.

4. Trainers at SeaWorld Aren’t Safe

Orcas aren’t the only ones at SeaWorld who are in danger—the human trainers are, too. There are reports of more than 100 cases of orca aggression at SeaWorld parks, some of which have led to human injuries and even death.

5. Orcas in Captivity Live Shorter Lives Than Orcas in the Wild

Orca-With-Bent-Dorsal-Fin

Orcas in the wild normally live between 30 and 50 years. Their maximum life span is between 60 and 70 years for males and between 80 and more than 100 for females (holy cow, that’s longer than a lot of humans!). The average age of orcas who have died in captivity (aka, were stuck at SeaWorld) is only 13 years old.

6. Collapsed Dorsal Fins Aren’t Healthy or Normal

SeaWorld says that collapsed dorsal fins, which are fins that are bent over, are normal for all orcas. However, that’s not true. Bent dorsal fins are caused by the whales living somewhere that is completely unnatural and are hardly ever seen in the wild.

All adult male orcas in captivity have collapsed dorsal fins, while only 1 to 5 percent of males in some populations in the wild have them.

7. Trainers Are Performers, Not Animal Experts


A lot of people believe that the trainers at SeaWorld are biologists or animal experts. However, the trainers often have no true education in marine biology or animal behavior! Doesn’t make much sense, right?

The trainers’ main purpose is to entertain people and put on a “good show,” not to teach people about the intelligent and social animals who are lonely and miserable in SeaWorld’s tanks.

8. Animals Suffer in Cramped Spaces

Orca InjuryOrca Research Trust
Whales and dolphins in their natural ocean environment often swim up to 100 miles a day (whoa, that’s a lot of miles), but SeaWorld forces them to live in tiny pools. That would be similar to forcing a person to live in a bathtub—no, thanks!

Living crowded in a small tank is stressful and causes fights between orcas, since they don’t have room to swim away from each other as they would in the wild. =(

Life at a SeaWorld park is miserable for all the animals forced to live there.