The authors of a new study published in Archives of Oral Biology found that every orca they examined at SeaWorld and its partner Loro Parque had some form of tooth damage. More than half of the orcas examined suffered from “moderate to extreme tooth wear in their lower jaws.”
The wear and other damage was likely caused by “chewing concrete and steel tank surfaces.” These orcas want to escape from their prisons so badly that they repeatedly gnaw on concrete and steel.
More than 61 percent of the orcas examined in the study were found to have holes drilled into their teeth. During this painful procedure, workers extract the soft pulpy tissue inside the tooth.
The holes are never filled or capped, so in order to prevent bacteria from causing infections employees must be flush the holes daily with chemicals. Can you imagine having to endure an unpleasant dental procedure EVERY SINGLE DAY of your life? Seriously, hell.
— ScienceDaily (@ScienceDaily) October 12, 2017
Co-author Dr. Ingrid Visser, a New Zealand–based scientist who has studied orcas in the wild for more than three decades, said, “Given how big the root of an orca’s tooth is and that orca have a nervous system similar to ours, these injuries must be extremely painful.”
The entire life of an orca forced to live in a tank is painful. These extremely intelligent animals are denied mental stimulation, family bonds, space to swim and dive, ocean water, currents, and freedom.
Dr. Carolina Loch, another co-author of the study, points out that “dentists have long said that oral health is a measure of general health as our mouths are the gateway to our body.” Dr. Visser believes that this is likely the same for orca.