Killer whales or orcas are charismatic, charming, friendly and a delight for the humans. They are common animals for aquariums around the world captured for entertainment. Their captivity is controversial owing to how the killer whales suffer in captivity despite efforts made to give them a healthy life. Here are are some facts about killer whales in captivity.
1. The Practice of Keeping Killer Whales in Aquariums Started in the 1960s
The killer whales were first kept in captivity in the early 1960s. Many orcas were captured from their natural habitat and transferred to aquariums. While some others were born and grown in the aquariums.
2. Highly Social Creatures That Are A Delight for the Humans to Watch
Killer whales are intelligent and social creatures. They’re quick learners and good at imitating others. Which is why they perform coordinated acrobatics that’s delight for the humans and makes them flock to see the killer whales perform.
The places that keep the killer whales are entertainment parks, education, and research centers. The most controversial of these centers was the SeaWorld, where at least 46 killer whales died in captivity.
3. What Happens When A 10,000 Pound Creature Of The Ocean Is Confined To a Pool
Limited space, stress, hot temperatures damages their fins. The killer whales swim long distances in the ocean, which keeps their dorsal fin in an active state. When in confinement, they are restricted to a small space where there is nowhere to swim to and are made to spend a lot of their time outside the pool. This leads to a fracture of their dorsal fin.
4. Killer Whales Love A Variety Of Food But Are Fed A Fixed Diet
In the ocean, killer whales are majestic predators that eat a variety of fish, squids, sea lions, seals, sea otters. In captivity, however, their diet is limited to dead sea herrings.
5. Captive Killer Whales Develop Aggressive and Psychotic Behavior
In 2010, an orca named Tilikum killed its own trainer, Dawn Brancheau. With their habit of swimming hundreds of miles in the sea, the killer whales get bored and tensed in confined pool space, leading to psychotic behavior. The killer whale Tilikum was responsible for 3 more deaths of humans.
6. The life expectancy of a captive killer whale is much less than a free killer whale
It is known that wild killer whales can live up to 90 years of age. Some wild killer whales have even lived for more than 100 years. But the majority of killer whales in captivity die in adolescence. Their average life expectancy in captivity is just 9 years.
7. Killer Whales Once Kept Captive Cannot Thrive In The Wild
The killer whale, Keiko, who played Willy in the American film Free Willy (1993) was captured when she was just 2 years old. In 2002, she was released into the ocean, but she was not able to adapt to the world of ocean. She lacked at socializing with other members of her species and could never become part of a herd. She eventually died in the year 2003.
8. They End Up Hurting Themselves
With boredom and aggression, the killer whales try to bite the concrete and metal bars. This harms their teeth and leads to infection.