A healthy and thriving 103-year-old orca has been spotted off the western coast of Canada, finally spelling disaster for SeaWorld. The Marine Park, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence, strongly declares that it does not mistreat its whales and that within captivity the animals live much longer and healthier lives. Thankfully, this false statement has finally been entirely blown out of the water.
Since the release of controversial documentary Blackfish, debates surrounding the capturing methods, treatment and ethical injustices carried out by SeaWorld have heated up. It is hoped that this new discovery will be enough to encourage people to completely boycott SeaWorld until it either closes and releases all its captive Whales or the standard of their treatment is made exceedingly higher.
According to Seaworld, because of a lack of research and evidence, the life expectancy of a killer whale is currently unknown to science. However, contradictory to this statement, the marine park has also firmly said that in their care the orcas, which typically have a life expectancy of 20-35 years, live much longer lives. This statement was reaffirmed to be false when the orca named “Granny” was seen to be thriving in the wild at the incredible age 103.
Granny was spotted in May 2014, just off the western coast of Canada with her pod. With her are her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Scientists have determined that the killer whale is not only healthy and thriving in the wild, they have also estimated that she has been swimming roughly 100 miles per day with her pod.
Whilst in captivity, killer whales are confined in small tanks which greatly limit the amount they are able to swim. According to SeaWorld, orcas do not need to regularly swim hundreds of miles despite their ability to do so. However, according to experts and animal welfare advocates, long-distance swimming is essential to the killer whales psychological health and well-being. When spotted, Granny and her pod had just completed a 800-mile journey from the northern coast of California. This supports the strengthened theory that the small tanks within the park have been causing the whales to suffer from an array of many dangerous mental illnesses, possibly explaining some of their famous and disastrous behavior during the parks popular shows.
Granny was first spotted in the 1930’s, since then it has been documented that she has mothered two calves, who when grown had fostered calves of their own. Reportedly, one of her grandchildren, named Canuck, was captured and held by Seaworld before dying at the age of 4. According to “the Whale and Dolphin Conservation project, whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old on average”.
It is common knowledge that SeaWorld separate the young from their pods, force them to breed continuously at unhealthily young ages, ultimately causing a copious amount of physical and emotional strain on these incredible animals. It is likely that a combination of these factors is what is leading the whales to live such a reduced lifespan. According to the NOAA, wild female orcas can live on average between 50-60 years. So, although Granny’s impressive age is undoubtedly rare, she demonstrates the capabilities of her species if left to explore the oceans freely whilst surrounded by the comfort of family and friends.
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