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The Most Disturbing Things Insiders Have Seen at SeaWorld

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Posted July 18, 2016 by Kim Johnson

SeaWorld is a terrible place—but don’t take our word for it. Check out some of the most disturbing things insiders have seen at SeaWorld parks:

Flesh at the Bottom of the Tanks

SeaWorld San Antonio 1 orcas in tankA former water-quality diver for SeaWorld pointed out that fights occurred regularly between orcas as a result of the frustration and stress of captivity. During these fights, the orcas tore off each other’s skin, which sank to the bottom of the tanks. Employees took the dead flesh, which looked like strips of rubber, home to their families as souvenirs. WTF?!

Deadly Fights Between Orcas

Kandu death

Two former trainers witnessed severe aggression between orcas, including a fight that resulted in the death of an orca named Kandu, who was likely trying to protect her baby, Orkid. Thousands of spectators saw Kandu, who had sustained a fractured jaw, exhaling blood through her blowhole and bleeding into the tank. She bled for 45 minutes before she sank to the bottom of the tank and died. Orkid never left her side. 

Unnatural Breeding

While SeaWorld recently announced the end of its sleazy orca-breeding program, the park continues to impregnate other animals. Employees have witnessed unnatural breeding of animals like Ruby, a beluga whale who violently and repeatedly rejected her calves but was still used for breeding. Ruby was captured from her ocean home when she was just 2 years old and suffered in captivity for 17 years before she died. 

orca-masturbation gif

An anonymous former SeaWorld trainer explained to The Orca Project that trainers sexually stimulated male orcas, like Tilikum, in order to collect their sperm. “It was rustic, latex gloves and KY Jelly, as I recall,” the trainer said. Although SeaWorld employees no longer do this to orcas, they may sexually stimulate other animals at the parks.

Orcas Floating Lifelessly

Orca floating SeaWorld

Visitors witnessed an orca floating lifelessly while cruelly confined to a tiny concrete tank. In the wild, this orca would swim up to 100 miles a day and be in motion almost constantly.

Animals Crashing Into Tank Walls

seaworld-orlando-dolphins-i

A former employee saw a baby dolphin die after he crashed into a wall while trying to escape aggressive tankmates. 💔

Solitary Confinement

SeaWorld orca tank

A veterinarian observed an orca being housed in isolation at the underwater viewing area at Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Orcas are social animals who, if given the chance, would spend each day traveling the vast ocean with the company of their pod. It’s hard to imagine the torture of being trapped in a small prison cell, all alone with no one to talk to.  

Dental Trauma and Tooth Fragments in Tanks

loro parque orca 5 skyla missing tooth

Many orcas at SeaWorld have worn-down or broken teeth—mostly from chewing on the metal bars and concrete sides of the pools out of stress and frustration. According to two former SeaWorld trainers, tooth fragments were often seen at the bottom of the pools. To keep the animals’ worn and broken teeth from becoming infected, employees drill out the inside of the teeth—often without any anesthetics or pain killers—and then must flush them out daily.

Animals Vomiting

A former employee witnessed walruses throwing up compulsively—a common behavior seen in captive wild animals, which may be caused by severe stress and loneliness and could lead to serious health problems.

Walrus Puking

A SeaWorld visitor filmed an orca throwing up, a behavior rarely seen in the wild. 

orca vomiting

Trash Around Animals

penguin

A former employee described seeing garbage in the enclosure housing penguins. It could lead to health problems if eaten. 

Self-Harm

Repetitive harmful behavior is common, such as this orca banging his head on a landing platform at SeaWorld.

Repetitive harmful behavior is common, such as this orca banging his head on a landing platform at SeaWorld.

A visitor filmed an orca compulsively banging his head against concrete, and recently, Morgan, an orca owned by SeaWorld, deliberately beached herself and lay motionless for more than 10 minutes after a show at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. This wasn’t the first time visitors have seen her exhibit this abnormal behavior.

Collapsed Dorsal Fins

seaworld san antonio 3 orca rake marks collapsed dorsal finVeterinarian Dr. Heather Rally—and anyone who has ever visited a SeaWorld park—has seen orcas with collapsed dorsal fins. When Dr. Rally asked an “educational” guide why an orca’s fin was collapsed, the guide responded that “the bent fin is a genetic trait similar to people with curly vs. straight hair.” This statement is entirely false. A collapsed dorsal fin is a condition that rarely occurs in the wild and is believed to be caused by a combination of confinement and extended time spent at the water’s surface. In nature, collapsed fins may be a sign of an unhealthy, stressed orca. 

Rake Marks on Animals’ Bodies

Seaworld san antonio 5 rake marks

Rake marks occur when an orca’s skin is scraped by the teeth of another orca during an aggressive attack. With no place for orcas to escape to, these attacks can result in painful and serious injuries.

Dolphin

Trainers reported that Tilikum’s rake marks have been so severe at times that, as he swam, blood trailed behind him. As a result, he had to be taken out of shows for days to heal.

Animals Injured While Performing 

dolphin concrete

Visitors at SeaWorld San Antonio witnessed this dolphin collide with another while performing a useless trick. She was thrown from the tank and lay bleeding and helpless on the concrete as guests looked on.

Calves Separated From Their Mothers

John Hargrove, a trainer with 14 years of experience at SeaWorld, witnessed baby orcas being tragically separated from their moms. Wild orcas live in close-knit pods—bonded groups of up to 30 individuals who often stay together for their entire lives. At SeaWorld, orcas have been torn away from their mothers for breeding purposes and sent to marine parks around the world. Some captive orcas have been filmed crying out in anguish when their babies are taken.

Takara is a 24-year-old orca who is currently pregnant and being held captive at SeaWorld San Antonio. SeaWorld already shipped her daughter, Kohana, all the way to Loro Parque in Spain. Will her new baby be stolen from her, too?

Dangerous Interactions With Humans

Kasatka, an orca who was captured off the coast of Iceland, was caught on video yanking trainer Ken Peters under water. 

Ken Peters, an orca trainer, is seen being pulled under water by an orca.

And SeaWorld employees and visitors had to witness the tragedy of the park’s star orca, Tilikum, kill trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Tilikum scalped and dismembered Brancheau, breaking bones throughout her body, before drowning her.

What You Can Do

These are just some of the disturbing incidents that insiders have witnessed at SeaWorld parks. Never go to any marine park, and urge your family and friends to stay away, too. Remember: Every dollar spent at SeaWorld goes directly toward animal suffering.

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