SeaWorld’s Captive Breeding Program is Under Scrutiny

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Fins and Fluke board member Heather Murphy has put together a stunning petition to end SeaWorld’s captive breeding program of orca whales. In it she enumerates the horrors experienced by mother whales, from the poor survival rates of both mother and offspring to the dismal statistics on inbreeding.
As an illustration of how devastating captivity is for orca families, this new trailer for the documentary Blackfish (due out in theaters in July) contains a clip where an upset mother whale nearly drowns a trainer – watch for the scene where the trainer is pulled under by his foot:

Heather writes:

“This is a call to action to end the captive breeding programs at SeaWorld Parks. SeaWorld continues to boast about their “successful breeding program” when in all actuality that is far from the truth. There have been thirty-seven known pregnancies at SeaWorld parks since the first captive birth in 1985. Only eighteen of these calves still alive today, barely half. The captive breeding program at SeaWorld has resulted in 6 stillbirths, two miscarriages, and five maternal deaths during childbirth.
The five females who have died during, or shortly after, birth experienced very unnatural circumstances.
One of the most disturbing was that of Gudrun. When Gudrun went in to labor in February 1996, a pulse could not be found on the unborn calf who was presumed dead. Since she was not delivering the calf, they needed to pull it from her.
David Kirby writes in Death at SeaWorld:
The pain must have been unearthly. Gudrun began to hemorrhage severely. Her dorsal fin collapsed, probably due to dehydration. She refused to eat and ignored all attempts by people to make contact with her. She remained motionless in one spot, unprotected by shade, so staff lovingly lavished her back with zinc oxide. After the bleeding stopped, Gudrun stayed that way for four days as her worried caretakers did all they could to nurse her back to health.
On the fourth day, Gudrun finally moved. She slowly swam over to the gate where her disabled young calf, Nyar, was watching. Nyar had had to be separated from Gudrun after the mother began attacking her daughter. Now Gudrun gently nudged Nyar’s rostrum through the bars, as if to ask for an overdue rapprochement. Gudrun died a few hours later.”

gudrun32 orcahome This was Gudrun’s life. (

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