Whales are magnificent creatures that are highly intelligent and social. Their graceful movements, as well as their playful interactions with each other, are mesmerising to watch. It is not surprising that humans have the desire to get a closer look at these beautiful sea creatures. Beginning in the 1960s, Orca whales have become main attractions at many aquariums and amusement parks. Their playfulness and trainability have made them prime candidates for amusement park performances. The captivity of whales, however, is a cruel practice that significantly degrades their health and wellbeing. There are many reasons why whales should be kept wild.
Enclosures for captive whales are far from adequate when it comes to size. Orca whales, which are most commonly held in captivity, range from 16 to 23 feet in size. As one might imagine, such large animals require a large habitat. Any aquarium or enclosure, no matter how big, isn’t able to compare with the vastness of the ocean where whales are free to swim for miles on end.
Additionally, whales held in captivity are deprived of the social bonds that are integral to their way of life in the wild. Orca whales are extremely social creatures that live in multi-generational family pods for their entire lives and share unique songs that get passed down from generation to generation. Orcas taken from the wild have their family bonds disrupted and often show aggression to other captive orcas which can lead to injury or death. The tragic consequences of this aggression, both towards other captives and humans, have been showcased in the documentary “Blackfish.”
Whale captivity often results in illness, miscarriages, accidents, and premature deaths. The health implications are severe and strongly solidify the argument that whales should not be held in captivity. While improvements have been made, such as Canada banning the captivity of whales and dolphins and SeaWorld discontinuing their captive breeding program, there is still a need to advocate for the whales which are currently held in captivity and are unable to be released into the wild. Check out the Whale Sanctuary Project in order to learn about possible solutions to this problem and find a way to help the whales in need.
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