Shouka, Six Flags’ 19 year old killer whale recently lunged aggressively at her trainer during a show (captured on a cell phone by a park guest, below). This serious breach came as a direct result of the amusement park’s lack of concern and illegal, inappropriate care of the whale. Activists have been trying to get the government to enforce regulations, without luck, and have circulated a petition to get action.
Meanwhile, Six Flags now has the trainers working behind a barrier to ensure the safety of the trainers, but have done nothing to help this bored, lonely whale, who has a mouthful of broken teeth.
From the petition for Shouka:
Shouka was born in captivity at Marineland in Antibes, France in 1993. For the first 9 years of her life, she lived with both her parents, other orcas and her siblings. In 2002, Shouka was importing to the U.S. under the care of Six Flags World of Adventure in Ohio. The intention of Six Flags was to import a wild caught male orca named Kshamenk who resides at Mundo Marino in Argentina. Due to the actions of several non-profit organizations and the law of Argentina, Kshamenk’s import was denied by the Argentine government.
A website dedicated to bringing attention to captive cetaceans, Without Me There Is No You describes the whale’s situation:
For the last 10 years, Shouka’s companions have been a few bottlenose dolphins. Her companion of 7 years, Merlin, a male bottlenose dolphin was removed from her enclosure and placed in another area of the park with other bottlenose dolphins. Shouka has been alone since November 2011.
Unfortunately Shouka would not be a good candidate for release. She has no bottom teeth and her wild family pod is unknown. She would be a good candidate for retiring to a bay/sea pen but if that’s not going to happen, then the least SF can do is make sure she has a companion and is not alone.
She was born with all her teeth. The condition her teeth are in now are a direct result of living in captivity. Since living at Six Flags, Shouka has broken and grinded down her teeth by chewing on the steel gates. In this video, Shouka’s trainer attempted to explain that orcas have hollow teeth and so they actively drill out the teeth as a proactive step so in case the tooth breaks, nothing gets stuck in her teeth and they can flush them out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2q_CzOuXEc&list=UUYWsqeOmlqyRjPXZ8w0PnkQ&index=14&feature=plcp
They only have “holes” in the center of the tooth IF the tooth has broken & the pulp died. Orca tooth anatomy is the same for wild & captive orcas…their teeth have a center soft fleshy pulp cavity which fills the “hole” & it is living tissue protected by enamel layers, sorta like a human tooth, just different material in the base. Instead of having what we know as a root they have pulp..but a healthy tooth is not hollow by any means. You can read more about captive orcas and teeth drilling here: http://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/the-hidden-cost-of-captivity-oral-health-of-killer-whales-exposed/
This situation clearly can’t continue – from the amusement park’s point of view, their revenues are bound to tumble and as it has been demonstrated countless times, once industry’s bottom line is affected (or laws are enforced), they will take action.
Notice in the following sequence of videos,
- First the original show uploaded July 5th shows Shouka refusing to perform (they take her in the back pool mid-show), but otherwise the show is the normal format.
- Within days the frustrated whale lunges at the trainer (the original footage).
- Finally, by the end of July the trainers are behind the barrier at the front of the pool trying to work the show – but now, because they are right below the audience it is hard to see what the whale is doing much of the time, and the big screen on the original stage is next to useless.