Thursday, February 25, 2010

Florida. Tillicum. Killer Whale. Captive Animal. He Wants Out.

This is all over the news, and the media just loves this kind of stuff. The local anchorwoman began her report by saying that a tragedy occurred even before people knew what was going on. I reckon she meant the killing of the marine park trainer before a live audience.

But, the truth be told, the real tragedy has always been in plain view. They are kept in relatively small tanks, and taught to perform acts that are unnatural to them. Killer whales are not pets that you embrace, kiss, and ride. Yet, they are trained to tolerate these human acts, and marine parks make money exhibiting this tenuous state of affairs. Killer whales are social beings, vis-a-vis their own species, have their own sense of self and what is acceptable to that self. They don't belong in marine parks and are not normally subservient to humans. Even a yokel like me, doing a little bit of research, can come to this conclusion.

Is there anyone out there who can truly measure the frustration level of captive killer whales? Some claim to have an understanding of killer whales, but two trainers and a private citizen are dead, killed by the same whale, Tillicum, a few years ago. What other signs does Tillicum need to exhibit to be considered a frustrated and unhappy animal? Seaworld must have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions, on Tillicum and so it is not about to declare him dangerous enough that he has to stop performing or interacting with trainers. That would mean a loss in revenue. Tillicum's unsafe behaviour or nature will be veiled in terms of " He doesn't know his true strength and size and thus he could and has accidentally killed humans. " Another one would be that the trainer did not follow proper procedures. Never will it be that Tillicum has had enough and should be released. With all the money involved, that's not going to be an option at all. When will zoo keepers, zoologists, and captive animal trainers recognize that they can't keep wild animals imprisoned and expect them not to break? Our self-proclaimed dominion over animals is wrong.


wildrose89 said...

As much as I agree with you, wild animals should not be held in captivity and trained to do our bidding, I also believe that it would be too late to release Tillicum. Tillicum has become accustomed to being in captivity, accustomed to being fed, cleaned, and cared for. It would be very difficult and very hard on Tillicum to be rehabilitated. Humans don't follow the sink or swim code, we don't realize how difficult it is. We are forever helping each other, and ensuring we all make it. Animals do not have that tendency, Tillicum could be rejected by many pods and may be unable to hunt on his own. They are very social whales and if Tillicum would not have any social interaction, who knows what effect that would have on him. He could become depressed and starve. I do not believe that such a repercussion would be fair to Tillicum. We did this to him, and now we must find another way.

I admit that no matter how well they treat the whales, they are not meant to be things of amusement. They should be appreciated in their natural habitat where we can truly appreciate them, their beauty, and intelligence. Taking them out of their home and turning them into performers is far worse than rehabilitating Tillicum. I would suggest allowing Tillicum to live out his days, with the other orcas, but not performing.

Anonymous said...

can we get a few things straight on Tilli....yes he killed Dawn...the other 2 incidents he did was a transient man with mental issues snuck into the aquarium and sealed his own fate with hypothermia...the other one included 2 other killer whales that were known to be the agressiors not Til...