A trainer with more than 14 years of experience recently claimed that SeaWorld has killed hundreds of animals through their lives in captivity.
John Hargrove, an Ex-Trainer at SeaWorld, said in a recently published article on PETA’s website that orcas and dolphins who live in captivity are subject to “physical and psychological damage.”
“Physical and psychological damage endured by human prisoners in solitary confinement is well documented,” he said. “I can tell you from my 14 years of experience that I personally witnessed the orcas – as well as other dolphins and marine animals – suffer the same physical and psychological trauma.”
Hargrove shared that more than 40 orcas and 450 dolphins and whales have died at SeaWorld, many of which were directly tied to living in captivity at the theme park.
He claims the marine life would typically die from pneumonia, infections, traumatic injuries, encephalitis, heart failure, as well as “other ailments caused by extreme confinement.”He also shared that many orcas allegedly broke their teeth after chewing the concrete in their enclosures and that many slammed their heads against the walls of their water cages.
“Imagine spending your entire life trapped in a small enclosure,” he said.
Hargrove referred to the tragic incident in 2010 where his coworker Dawn Bracheau was killed by an orca named Tilikum. He warned that more potential attacks could come in the future, as well.
“He’s also not the only orca at SeaWorld to kill a trainer. We had countless serious injuries and near fatalities during my career, caused by many different orcas,” Hargrove said. “Confinement causes not only chronic health issues but also extreme stress that leads to violent behaviour and deadly attacks.”
SeaWorld is a popular Orlando theme park nearby Discovery Cove. Although the theme park puts a heavy emphasis on animal rescue and rehabilitation while focusing on habitat protection and supporting ocean health initiatives to our many rescue and rehabilitation efforts, the Park has still experienced some backlash from ex-trainers and many other animal activists. SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio also have orca experiences.
SeaWorld announced that it would no longer breed orcas, but still has several in its Orca Encounter.
SeaWorld Orlando’s official description of the Orca Encounter reads:
A Killer Whale Experience
More on SeaWorld Orlando
Ice Breaker is the newest coaster built at SeaWorld Orlando; its bright colors pull Guests in and fill a hole in the Park, which previously did not do any favors. Ice Breaker was announced to be built in 2019, but due to the pandemic, the coaster’s opening date was severely pushed back. The $8.2 million dollar attraction shoots up and down at 93 feet and hits a speed of 52 miles per hour. Although those stats don’t really give off the “terrifying” vibe, the coaster packs a lot more punch than it may seem.
SeaWorld Orlando describes the attraction as:
Named after the icy Arctic summits, Ice Breaker will feature four airtime filled launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida – a 93 feet tall spike with 100 degree angle. The thrills continue as riders fly over a near vertical tophat maneuver into a series of exciting twists, turns, and airtime hills. The brand-new coaster will be located across from Wild Arctic and opens February 18, 2022.
SeaWorld had recently put in a bid at $3.4 billion to take over Cedar Fair, however that offer was rejected.
Most recently, SeaWorld Orlando has been charged with a lawsuit after a family who visited the Park claimed that they were assaulted by a group of teenage Guests and SeaWorld Orlando failed to protect them, even after witnessing what was going on. The Orlando Sentinel reported on the ongoing incident which involved Aimee, Michael, and Connor Johnson, along with Holly Witt of Duval County on behalf of a child. The group filed the lawsuit against SeaWorld on February 1, and claim that they were seriously injured due to SeaWorld’s negligence. The suit is priced at $100,000.
SeaWorld’s lawyer has denied all charges in the latest court hearing, stating, “that under Florida law, the park has a duty to protect guests. The filing said the plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by their own negligence or carelessness and that they seemingly provoked the other group.” The fight broke out on May 2, 2021, as reported by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, who also had reports of the fight.
What do you think of the orcas at SeaWorld Orlando? Let us know in the comments.