With the enormous amount of false and deliberately misleading information out in the public regarding SeaWorld, and their animals, we wanted to present this helpful resource to our readers who may have questions. This page may be updated periodically, so check back. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where does SeaWorld get their whales and dolphins?
The overwhelming majority of SeaWorld’s whales and dolphins were born at SeaWorld. Others were obtained through legal permits from other parks. A few are rescued animals that were deemed non-releasable due to illness or injury requiring specialized care, or because they aren’t able to fend for themselves in the wild.
Who decides whether a rescued animal is releasable or not?
That decision is left up to NOAA (National Marine Fisheries Service) and USFWS (United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service). They are the governing bodies that make the call whether a rehabilitated animal is suitable for release or not. They also decide where an animal is placed if it cannot be released. There is a multi-page document covering this topic that can be viewed here.
Does SeaWorld starve their animals to force them to perform?
No. Every animal is fed restaurant quality food according to their own unique nutritional needs as overseen by a veterinarian. Animals are fed multiple times a day, and receive their full allotment of food regardless of whether or not they choose to participate in shows, training, or husbandry procedures. Everything asked of the animals is entirely voluntary on their part. They can choose to participate or not.
Does SeaWorld medicate their animals?
Yes. Some animals receive vitamins and other supplements or medications as prescribed by SeaWorld veterinarians. This is no different than a vet giving medications to your dog or cat when they require them. In fact, it’s no different than one of us taking a daily multivitamin or prescribed medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, or any number of health reasons.
Are SeaWorld’s animals unhealthy compared to their wild counterparts?
Animals at SeaWorld actually have an advantage compared to their wild counterparts. They have access to 24 hour a day state of the art veterinary care. Every animal is given a rigorous monthly health exam as well as close daily monitoring for any signs of illness or injury. At the first signs of trouble, a veterinarian is summoned to care for the sick or injured animal. While it is inevitable that animals will get sick or injured and die in captivity, they have the advantage of access to immediate medical care, whereas their wild counterparts don’t always have that luxury.
Additionally, animals at SeaWorld don’t have to contend with natural or man-made disasters. They aren’t at risk for getting hit by boats, starving, caught in fishing gear, being affected by oil spills, or at risk of being hunted and killed.
Does SeaWorld abuse their animals?
No. SeaWorld practices what they call positive reinforcement training. This simply means that any behavior that is undesirable is ignored. This is what is known as LRS, or least reinforcing scenario. The LRS has two parts. The first part is a consequence for incorrect behavior. This occurs when the trainer does not reinforce the animal for the incorrect behavior. The second part is a stimulus providing an opportunity for reward – for two to three seconds the trainer is relaxed and attempts no change in environment. This brief time period is a stimulus to the animal to remain calm and attentive. This stimulus provides a new opportunity for reward. Following an LRS, the animal is reinforced for calm, attentive behavior. The animal may also receive an opportunity to perform another behavior that will result in reinforcement.
No trainer at SeaWorld ever “disciplines” any animal by physical punishment.
Do the animals like performing in shows?
Every show animal at SeaWorld always has the freedom to perform or not perform in every show. The choice is always theirs. Trainers never force any animal to take part in a show. In fact, there are times when trainers will actually cancel shows if the animals choose not to perform. Any animal you see performing in a show is doing so because they decided to. The shows offer the animals the opportunity for exercise and stimulation, training, and interacting with park guests.
Some of the Killer Whales have flopped over dorsal fins. Is this normal? Does it mean the whale is sick, injured or distressed?
A flopped over dorsal fin is not an indicator of illness, boredom, distress, or injury. The dorsal fin is made up of something called collagen, which is what our ligaments and tendons are made out of. As a whale matures and its dorsal fin stands taller, it may have a tendency to flop over because of the weight of the fin. One theory as to why dorsal fin collapse is more prominent in captive whales is because they spend more time at the water’s surface, and so their dorsal fins aren’t supported by water pressure. Some believe dorsal fin collapse is hereditary. Regardless however of cause, there is no scientific proof that a collapsed dorsal fin causes the whales any discomfort or distress.
There are in fact whales in the wild with collapsed dorsal fins, as you can see from these photos.
If Killer Whales in the wild can swim up to 100 miles a day, how come their pools at SeaWorld aren’t bigger?
Wild Killer Whales often need to migrate frequently due to any number of factors. They may need to travel great distances to find a source of food, or they may need to avoid shipping lanes. Whales and dolphins at SeaWorld have no need to migrate to find food or avoid shipping lanes, and so exercise is provided for them in different ways. The pools at SeaWorld already meet or exceed federal standards, and are some of the biggest cetacean pools in the world. In fact, SeaWorld has a major renovation, the Blue World Project, in the works at all three SeaWorld parks. This expansion will nearly double the current size of the Killer Whale habitats.
Is SeaWorld involved in any way in the dolphin hunts/slaughters in Taiji?
No. Over 30 years ago, SeaWorld tried to rescue a few cetaceans from meeting a grisly fate in Taiji, but that was a one-time occurrence. Since that time, they have never again sought any involvement in any way, shape or form in any dolphin/whale hunts or slaughters. Furthermore, SeaWorld has never obtained any cetacean from any drive fishery. In fact, it is a direct violation of US federal law for any cetacean from a drive fishery to be imported into the United States.
In the video below is SeaWorld employee Stewart Clark discussing SeaWorld’s opposition to the drive fishery.
Why can’t SeaWorld just release their whales and dolphins into sea pens?
This may seem like a grand idea to some, but would prove detrimental to the health and well being of the animals. The vast majority of these animals were born in marine parks. They have no concept of what an ocean environment is. Furthermore, they lack the survival skills they need in order to thrive and survive in the open ocean. The ocean is also full of man-made and natural pollutants that would likely compromise their sheltered immune systems. A sea pen would not provide these animals with the enrichment and proper level of care they are accustomed to.
Is there chlorine in SeaWorld’s pools?
A small amount of chlorine is present to assist in the cleansing process, but when you take into consideration that the pools can hold millions of gallons of saltwater, the actual amount of chlorine would be no worse than your local community swimming pool. SeaWorld has a state of the art water purification facility. Each area has its own dedicated filtration system which filters thousands of gallons of saltwater per minute. SeaWorld actually manufactures its very own saltwater to ensure the best water quality for their animals.