A shocking aerial photo shows the cramped living conditions of SeaWorld’s orcas, with more space given to car parks and a boating lake.
The image is being circulated by The Orca Project, an campaign group seeking to improve the rights or marine mammals in captivity.
The image shows SeaWorld’s car park in yellow, its boating lake in red, and its orca pool in blue[/caption]
It shows a satellite view of the SeaWorld theme park in Orlando, Florida, with a yellow line encircling the car park, a red line around a lake on which visitors use paddle boats, and a blue line around a much smaller pool where orcas are kept.
The Orca Project claim the resort’s orcas “spend their entire lives” in the pool.
SeaWorld is a chain of theme parks in the US and Abu Dhabi that host roller coasters, marine life shows, and other entertainment.
The parks have long been the subject of controversy, with animal rights campaigners arguing that tanks are too small for the whales to grow healthily, to shallow to protect them from the sun, and the whales in captivity have dramatically short lifespans than those in the wild.
Last month, Virgin Holiday announced it would cease to sell packages to attractions such as SeaWorld, opting instead to promote “more natural” encounters with animals.
‘AN AWFUL LIFE’
In 2013, a major documentary on the subject, entitled Blackfish, was released.
It told the story of Tilikum, a whale previously held by Canadian park Sealand and sold to SeaWorld after he killed a woman who fell into his pool.
Tilikum went on two kill two more people in separate incidents after arriving at SeaWorld Orlando, and the film argued argued the conditions in which he had been kept contributed to the deaths.
The film was nominated for a BAFTA the year of its release and garnered critical acclaim.
SeaWorld responded to the film with a statement which read: “Blackfish … is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy ….
“[T]he film paints a distorted picture that withholds …key facts about SeaWorld—among them…that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild hundreds of wild animals every year, and that SeaWorld commits millions of dollars annually to conservation and scientific research.”
The Orca Project said they hope “to get these magnificent orcas retired to a coastal sanctuary so they can live out their lives in their natural habitat”.
One user responded to the image saying: “We have been to sea world and seen this many times they are magnificent creatures and it’s an awful life they have.
“It has to be freedom for them.”
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Another said: “When I visited a few years ago I was shocked.
“Hundreds of rays in a tiny tank, bears in a ‘arctic’ set up, manatees all in cramped quarters.”
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