Sunday 30 March 2014

Happy Mothers Day - Captive Orcas

Mothers look after their children until their are self sufficient strong capable adults, unless of course you are an orca, their children stay with them for life in strong matraline pods, male calves never leave their mothers.

Seaworld's own website contains this paragraph
''Respect for Social Structure
calf3whales185x155In our breeding program,  as well as all aspects of our husbandry programs, SeaWorld recognizes the important bond between mother and calf, and everything we do in the care of our young whales is centered on that bond. We conduct the breeding program in a way that promotes genetic diversity. Where it was once necessary to move whales to ensure that diversity, advances in artificial insemination, pioneered with killer whales at SeaWorld, have made inter-facility whale transfers less common.''

Despite all their protests of not separating mothers and calves, this one statement shows them admitting they DO separate them to promote genetic diversity, the only reason they don't do it so much now is because of AI and then what happens when the tanks fill up again, another Loro Parque??

Across the parks holding killer whales captive all the following orca have been taken from their mothers and families.

Bingo - Port of Nagoya, taken from his wild mother aged 3 in 1984
Stella - Port of Nagoya, taken from her wild mother aged 1 in 1987 5 babies born 1 died 2 still with her

Lara -  Kamogawa        mother and father moved away in 2011 aged 12
Lovey Kamogawa         mother and father moved away in 2011 2 babies born Earth and Luna

Kiska - Marineland Ontario - taken from her wild mother aged 2 - 3 in 1979 5 babies born 1 unnamed aged 2 months, Canuck died aged 4, Nova died aged 4, Hudson died aged 6, Athena died aged 4

Kshamenk - Mundo Marino - captured aged 4, wild mother unknown father died same day as capture 1992

Lolita - Miami Seaquarium - taken from her wild mother aged 3 1970

Corky 2 - Seaworld        taken from her wild mother aged 2 in 1966 7 babies born all deceased
Kasatka - Seaworld        taken from her wild mother aged 1-2 in 1978 4 babies born 3 still with her
Katina  -   Seaworld        taken from her wild mother aged 3-4 in 1978 7 babies born 3 deceased, 2 taken 2 still with her
Morgan -  Seaworld        taken and not reunited with her wild mother aged 3 in 2010
Tilikum -   Seaworld         taken from his wild mother aged 2 in 1983
Ulises -     Seaworld        taken from his wild mother aged 3 in 1980
Ikaika -    Seaworld         taken from Katina aged 4
Kayla -    Seaworld         Keanu taken away when Kayla was 2 2 babies born 1 deceased 1 miscarried
Keet -      Seaworld         Kalina was moved away when he was 1 and a half
Keto        Seaworld         taken from Kalina aged 3 and a half, moved to Spain aged 6
Kohana    Seaworld         taken from her mother Takara aged 4 and sent to Spain 2 babies born 1 deceased 1 rejected and separated
Shouka    Seaworld         taken from her mother in France aged 9
Skyla       Seaworld         taken from her mother Kalina aged 2 and sent to Spain
Takara     Seaworld         taken from Kasatka aged 12 4 babies born youngest 2 still with her
Tekoa      Seaworld         taken from Taima at a few months old due to aggression, mothered by Kalina
                                       moved to San Antonio aged 4 and Spain aged 6
Trua        Seaworld         had his mother Takara taken away when he was 3
Tuar        Seaworld         moved away from his mother Kalina aged 4
Unna       Seaworld         moved away from Katina aged 6  1 baby miscarried
Adan      Seaworld         separated from Kohana immediately rejected Loro Parque

Separated by death
Halyn      Seaworld         immediate rejected by  Kayla
Kalina     Seaworld         separated aged 4 to do a tour of all the parks returned aged 9 5 babies born none with her when she died
Katerina  Seaworld        separated from Katina aged 2 to tour all Seaworld parks
Sumar     Seaworld        separated from Taima aged 10 months
Taku       Seaworld        separated from Katina aged 13 after mating with his mother

Freya - Marineland Antibes taken from her wild mother aged 2 in 1982 5 babies born only Valentin survived
Betty    Marineland Antibes taken from her wild mother died aged 5

Narnia - Russia            separated from her mother aged 2, mother unknown
7 other unknown Russian orca's taken from their wild pods.

We do not separate mothers and calves - Really??? 


Tuesday 18 March 2014

The First Cetaceans on Display 1861 - birth of the captive industry.

Barnum opened his museum on January 1, 1842 to create a place where families could go for wholesome, affordable entertainment, but his success drew from the fact that he knew how to entice an audience. Its attractions made it a combination zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theater and freak show, that was, at the same time, a central site in the development of American popular culture. Barnum filled the American Museum with scientific instruments, modern appliances, a flea circus, a loom run by a dog, the trunk of a tree under which Jesus’ disciples sat, a hat worn by Ulysses S. Grant, an oyster bar, a rifle range, waxworks, glass blowers, taxidermists, phrenologists, pretty-baby contests, Ned the learned seal, the Feejee Mermaid (a mummified monkey’s torso with a fish’s tail), midgets, Chang and Eng the Siamese twins, a menagerie of exotic animals that included beluga whales in an aquarium, giants, Grizzly Adams’s trained bears and performances ranging from magicians, ventriloquists and blackface minstrels to adaptations of biblical tales and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”


On July 13, 1865, the American Museum burned to the ground in one of the most spectacular fires New York has ever seen. Animals at the museum were seen jumping from the burning building, only to be shot by police officers. The Beluga's obviously did not escape.

Barnum's Tiger

  Barnum tried to open another museum soon after that, but that also burned down in a mysterious fire in 1868. It was after this time that Barnum moved on to politics and the circus industry. Barnum's American Museum was one of the most popular attractions of its time

The two newspaper reports below show the excitement of capturing wild whales, and despite their deaths, Barnum used this as a hook to get people through the door, the animals deaths it seemed were irrelevant.

The Whales, New York Tribune, August 9, 1861
In the summer of 1861, Barnum trumpeted his latest American Museum exhibit: two live white (or beluga) whales. This newspaper report on the arrival of the whales reflects the excitement and wonder that, in an era before zoos, New Yorkers might have felt at seeing live animals in captivity. This was Barnum's first attempt to exhibit live whales (the museum was on its eighth and ninth whales when it burned down in 1865), and his promotion of the animals highlighted the enormous undertaking of capturing them in Canada and transporting them New York.

A real live whale is as great a curiosity as a live lord or prince, being much more difficult to catch, and far more wonderful in its appearance and habits. After all people are people, and have much the same ways of feeling and doing. But when we get among the whales, we catch glimpses of a new and neat thing in the nose, recall the narrative of Jonah without throwing a shadow of doubt upon its authenticity, and appreciate keenly the difficulties with which mermaid society must have to contend.
We owe the presence of two whales in our midst to the enterprise of Mr. P. T. Barnum. He has had them in tow for a long while, but has kept his secret well, and it was not until his own special whaler telegraphed from Troy that he had come so far into the bowels of the earth with his submarine charge, and all well, that he felt warranted in whispering whale to the public. The public was delighted but not surprised, because it feels that the genius that is equal to a What Is It is also equal to the biggest thing, and would experience no unusual thrill of wonder if a real iceberg, or a section of the identical North Pole, should be announced on the bills of the Museum.
But flocks of the public sought the Museum yesterday, and were not disappointed. They saw not, as Pelonius, something "very like a whale," but the original animal in his original element. The bears, and the anacondas, the hatchet, and the seal, sank into merited insignificance, although they will have their day again if the whales should expire. The transfer of the fish was neatly effected. They traveled the whole distance in first-class hermetical boxes, filled with water and thickly lined with sea-weed, and were landed, if the expression may be used, in the new and excellent tank provided for them in the basement of the Museum. This tank is 58 feet deep and 25 in width, has 7 feet of sea water in it, and seems to suit the whales eminently. Mr. Barnum has fears that the pets will have but a brief, if brilliant, career, in their new quarters, but we prefer to predict for them a long and happy one.
These are white whales and were taken near the Labrador coast by a crew of thirty-five men. The largest has attained the extreme size reached by this species, and is about 23 feet long; the other is 18 feet long. Their form and motion are graceful and their silver backs and bellies show brightly through the water. A long-continued intimacy has endeared them to each other, and they go about quite like a pair of whispering lovers, blowing off their mutual admiration in a very emphatic manner. Just at present they are principally engaged in throwing their eyes around the premises and paying small attention to visitors, upon whom, indeed the narrative of Jonah has a strong hold. Yet neither of these whales should make a single mouthful of a man of ordinary size. Even if one of them should succeed in swallowing a man, he could just stand up with the whale, and make it at least as uncomfortable as himself.
Here is a real "sensation." We do not believe the enterprise of Mr. Barnum will stop at white whales. It will embrace sperm whales and mermaids, and all strange things that swim or fly or crawl, until the Museum will become one vast microcosm of the animal creation. A quarter seems positively contemptible weighed against such a treat.
Source: New York Tribune, August 9, 1861
At some point there must have been one whale left as this ad shows

Ad for Whales, July 2, 1865
In an era before the common exhibition of animals in zoos and circuses, the arrival of "two living white whales" in lower Manhattan was a noteworthy event. While other natural history museums of the period tried to present animals with images of their natural habitats and avoided mention of their capture, the American Museum often stressed the opposite. The animals themselves, as well as their natural habitats and habits, frequently paled in comparison to Barnum's heroic tales of acquisition. In the case of the beluga whales, the exhibit highlighted the elaborate process of their capture and transportation to New York. Barnum spurred attendance with hints, born out by past experience, that the whales might not survive for long in captivity.

weighing TWENTY THOUSANDS POUNDS per registers
Hudson River Railroad Co.,
after several months of immense labor and at an expense of
were captured and brought to this city from the coast of Labrador and are
now disporting in that MINATURE OCEAN,
the only specimen to be seen alive.
to see these wonders as
seven of the same species having died while being exhibited at this
GEORGE, the great WHALE CAPTURER, will enter
the WHALE TANK every day at 10 3/4 A.M., 2 1/4 and 7 3/4 P. M.
Source: New York Herald July 2, 1965

 In hindsight Mr Barnum had a lot to answer for, captive cetaceans started to become an interest and viewed as money makers,  although their success was short lived as in those days they were hard to keep alive and it was not until 1938 that the first display facility opened properly.   After the fires Mr Barnum went on to display his cetaceans as part of the circus. The picture below puts me in mind of the Russian Circus's still circulating today.

Through his desire to show the world animals they might not have seen, and in his lust for glory at being able to capture such creatures,  the captive industry was born.

Monday 17 March 2014

Old Tom - The Killer Whales of Eden

This must be one of the oldest stories of humans being helped my other animals.

The killer whales of Eden, Australia were a group of killer whales  known for their co-operation with human hunters of other whale species. They were seen near the port of Eden in southeastern Australia between 1840 and 1930. A pod of killer whales, which included amongst its members a distinctive male called Old Tom, would assist whalers in hunting baleen whales.

Old Tom's role in the hunt was to  alert the human whalers to the presence of a baleen whale in the bay by breaching or tail slapping at the mouth of the Kiah River, which is one of the smallest rivers, where the Davidson family had their tiny cottages.

This role endeared him to the whalers and led to the idea that he was “leader of the pack,” although such a role was more likely taken by a female (as is typical among killer whales), probably the whale known as Stranger. After the harpooning, some of the killer whales would even grab the ropes in their teeth and aid the whalers in hauling. The skeleton of Old Tom is on display at the Eden Killer Whale Museum, and wear marks can still be seen on his/her teeth from grabbing the ropes.

In return for their help, the whalers allowed the killer whales to eat the tongue and lips of the whale before hauling it ashore, providing a rare example of co-operation between humans and killer whales. The killer whales would then also feed on the many fish and birds that would show up to pick at the smaller scraps and runoff from the fishing.

 The unique behaviour of killer whales in the area was recorded in the 1840s by whaling overseer Sir Oswald Brierly in his extensive diaries.It was recorded in numerous publications over the period and witnesses included Australian members of Parliament. The behaviour was recorded on movie film in 1910 by C.B. Jenkins and C.E. Wellings and publicly projected in Sydney, although the film is now missing and believed to have been destroyed/damaged in the 1930s when bank vaults in Sydney, where they were kept, were flooded.

Many times the whales would smash the boats of the whalers. They called the whale tails 'the hand of God'. 
Once in the water the whalers were at the mercy of sharks. Old Tom and his pod, despite being mammal eaters, swam around the whalers and protected them from the sharks, sometimes even pulling drowning whalers back to the surface.

Sometimes the whalers saved the killers too, untangling them from lines and nets, the whalers said they made a kind of purring noise when they knew they had been helped.

For almost 100 years this relationship continued. There was a horrible accident where a family drowned, the next morning the villagers found the baby, a couple of days later they found the boy, but they couldn't find Jack the adult. The orca;s never left the bay, and old Tom circled the same area over and over for almost a week. When they went to look where he was they found the body, on the day of his funeral Tom provided an honor guard and swam alongside the boat. 

Even back then there were people who didn't like them, didn't want to help them and also killed one of the pod and once again the trust was broken by us. See their story on the video below.

Many of the Eden killer whales were individually known and named, often after whalers who had died. Some of best known killer whales included Tom (who died 15 September 1930),


Humpy (died 1926/7),


Typee (died 1901), 


Stranger,  Big Ben, Young Ben, Kinscher (female), Jimmy, Sharkey, Charlie Adgery, Brierly, Albert, Youngster, Walker, Big Jack, Little Jack, Skinner and Montague
Their relationship with the group can be seen here 

 All those years ago people knew that killer whales were not the terrible killers they were made out to be. Those in the Captive Industry state that without captives people would still think orca were terrible vicious monsters, this proves that this would not have been the case as travel spread the word of these creatures would have spread too.

There story and eye witness accounts can be seen here.

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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