Friday 14 March 2014

No Superior Dental Care and the Reasons for the Damage - challenging seaworld

Signs of stress is very apparent in the state of captive orca teeth. Many are drilled, many are broken and many are virtually non existent.

The procedure is called a modified pulpotomy (modified in that it is done on killer whales not humans).
2 former trainers J Ventre and J Jett explain the procedure here. 

Some of the main points are:
  • It is done with NO anesthetic, and it does hurt the whales as they often squeal, shudder and sink into the water.
  • It is done with a variable speed drill
  • The holes are left open, no one knows whether this is painful but when flushed debris, blood and blood clots often come out.
  • The holes need irrigating 3 times a day. To prevent a public relations nightmare over the state of the teeth, Seaworld trainers are told to explain this to the public as 'superior dental care'. If that was the case it wouldn't need doing in the first place.
  • Unless some sort of filling is devised all those with drilled teeth would only be allowed into open sea pens not out alone in the ocean due to the need to keep the holes flushed out.
 In my opinion one of the causes of this stress is being in a false pod. In an attempt to prove this theory we can look at the teeth of the orca's in various facilities, starting with the single orca's.

Lolita's teeth are in remarkably good condition as you can see from her picture. She doesn't have the stress of sharing a tank with other incompatible orca, although it is surprising her teeth are so good as she has to deal with the loneliness and the small tank. Her teeth show that this is not the reason for broken and worn teeth.


Kshamenk's teeth are also not in too bad a condition. He has shared the tank with other orca but like Lolita has been alone for a long time. His tiny pool and being alone with just his dolphin friend shows again that isn't the cause of broken, and worn teeth.


Kiska, although alone now, has not been alone for very long and her teeth are shocking. Marineland’s lone orca Kiska, has ground her teeth down to the jaw bone. Former Marineland trainer Phil Demers, told Decoded Science that unlike SeaWorld’s orcas, Kiska, “was never trained to have her teeth drilled.” Demers also confirmed that Kiska swims around with the pulp of her teeth exposed. She is regularly medicated and will be for the rest of her life. She has also been in the tanks with others, lost all her calves, had fights with Ikaika and now spends her time alone. Her stress levels must have been through the roof.

Seaworld San Diego
 During testimony at the SeaWorld vs. OSHA hearings, SeaWorld’s vice president of veterinary services, Dr. Chris Dold confirmed the practice of drilling orca teeth after they break them on the surfaces of the concrete pools and during interactions with other whales. He also admitted under oath that about 14 of 20 orcas at SeaWorld require antiseptic flushes of their drilled teeth.

Corky 2 

Corky's animal profile says 'Worn teeth on lower and upper jaw. Many decayed and discolored.' The picture shows her teeth are virtually none existent.


 As the dominant orca, Kasatka's teeth are not too bad, her animal profile says ' Missing three teeth on lower back right jaw.'


Ulises teeth are also in quite good condition, although very discoloured. He has spent 14 years alone and unusually for a male inserted himself as a dominant orca at Seaworld.

Orkid's profile says she has had one tooth taken out. She is a well known bird catcher, but where this picture would normally be quite cute, it is spoilt by her lack of teeth with those at the front being nearly worn to the jaw line.


Whilst still in his teens, Keet's profile says ' Dental work done on 11 teeth and missing part of another.' He became very depressed when his mother was moved away he was 18 months old and he has moved around every park, which probably explains the damage as he will have had to adapt to a new social structure at each park.


Shouka's teeth are appalling. She has also suffered a lot. She was taken from her family in France and kept alone for 10 years at Six Flags before being moved to Sea World where she had to adapt to a new social structure and living with killer whales again. As you can see her teeth are virtually non existent and full of drilled holes.


Despite Nakai's young age, you can see the points of his teeth are worn off already.


Whilst getting Ike back from Marineland  Sworn affidavits show that Ikaika has had a chronic dental problem since his SW days that affects his behaviour  “Ikaika’s problem is with the roots of various teeth in his mouth. These roots are open, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infections. The normal course of treatment is to flush his teeth consistently, numerous times daily, and treat him with antibiotics and pain medications” ~said Lanny Cornell, a veterinary consultant to Marineland.


Being so young Kalia's teeth are fine just a little worn at the tops, at the moment as are Makani's

Seaworld Orlando


 Katinas teeth as you can see are broken and chipped. Her profile states - Two badly chipped teeth and another broken at the base. She has hardly any teeth at the front of her lower jaw.


Strangely Tilikum's profile says nothing about the state of his teeth. Tilikum, the orca involved in the February 24, 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, was having tooth flushes performed three times a day. At the time of his involvement in her death, it is also known that Tilikum was ill and receiving antibiotics and antifungal drugs to treat an unknown inflammatory issue. According to a review of his medical records, Tilikum’s teeth were allegedly ruled out by using a thermography unit. He has had similar incidents in the past involving him having courses of antibiotics, where this is from his teeth is unknown.


photo credit orca project

Kayla has 12 of her teeth drilled, another is cracked, and one is missing. Kayla's profile states lower teeth drilled for flushing, upper left 6 cracked, upper left 8 missing.

photo orcaamy @ deviant art
There is nothing in Trua's profile saying anything about his teeth, yet you can see the holes on the left side where his teeth are completely worn down.


Nalani's profile also says nothing about her teeth, yet you can see on the picture, her front teeth are down to the jaw and have holes in then and the once behind are extremely worn down. She is a young orca too so must be feeling very stressed.


Malia is still young, but has already started to wear his front teeth.

Makaio is still growing his teeth.

Seaworld San Antonio


Takara as daughter of the matriarch had few issues, now she had moved she is still one of the dominant orca so suffers little stress. Her teeth show what the other orca's teeth should be like, although this picture is in 2006.


Kyuquot's profile says  No teeth drilled- small chip on one. Extensive erosion and yellowing of lower teeth and back upper teeth at and below gum line. His teeth are a mess despite the superior dental care Sea World say  they all receive.


Unna is still a teenager but her profile says she already has 9 teeth drilled and wear on bottom teeth.


Tuar's profile says he has 14 drilled teeth, another is cracked and he has worn his lower teeth from extensive rubbing and picking at paint at the bottom of the pools.

Sakari's teeth are still growing.

Loro Parque
Bear in mind the orca's in Loro Parque are all young, being taken from their mothers and sent to a different country despite Seaworld saying they do not separate mothers and calves.


 Although there is no profile to check, you can see the front teeth that Keto is already grinding them down.


Skyla has also taken her front teeth right down particularly on the right hand side, although her back ones look quite good.


Sea World must have had to teach the Loro Parque trainers how to perform tooth flushing as Kohana's teeth have obviously been drilled. 


Sea World should be totally ashamed at the state of Tekoa, he is the most bullied orca in captivity. His skin is raken and his teeth are worn and already drilled. A shocking state for a young orca to be in. Out of sight is not out of mind Seaworld!!


Baby Adan is already showing signs of tooth damage with the teeth on this side of the picture showing signs of being drilled already.


This picture shows how Morgans teeth have degenerated since being at Loro Parque. She has worn the tops off her teeth from chewing the sides of the tank through stress and boredom.

Wild orca

To enable you to make a comparison, this is what their teeth should look like.

Another comparison you can make is the 'begging marks'. What I call begging marks are the scuffs and stained areas under their chins from rubbing up on the edges of the pool to beg for their fish. Every single orca above has got these marks

Wild orca no begging marks

How do they cause so much damage to their teeth?

Morgan chewing the tank walls.
Chomping at walls

As an example of why the Seaworld orcas, get in such a state compared with the lone orcas. The pictures below show you what it is like to live in a pool full of strangers, unable to speak their language, unable to escape their aggression, with all your natural instincts impeded
Orkid has to escape onto a slide out

Bleeding she has no where to go only out of the tank

Ulises being raked by Kalia

fights between shows, nowhere to escape to

dead babies

attacks on trainers

more aggression

Morgan being rammed by Skyla and Kohana

Kandu V bled to death after ramming Corky

Invasive procedures
severe injury
babies attacked - adan
Makani raked

Scarring from your pretend pod

Boredom - Tilikum didn't move for 3 hours

Gates, isolation and death

Lack of space and depth


dead fish

Urine on command (all parks)

Against instinct - the only time a whale would intentionally strand itself is if it was sick

Sperm collected
Witnessing deaths (Orkid with Sumar)

Is this how an orca's life should be??

They protest by grinding their teeth

They protest by attacking their trainers

They protest by attacking each other



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