Pop Culture

Whales Don’t Eat More Trainers Because They Are Stoned Out Of Their Sea World Skulls

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Killer whale life spansSeaWorld has been facing harsh criticism from animal rights advocates and it’s about to get worse. It appears it’s treating some of its marine mammals with psychoactive drugs. No wonder they aren’t willy-nilly attacking their trainers all day long.

According to documents obtained by Buzzfeed:

Trainers give their orcas, also known as killer whales, the psychoactive drug benzodiazepine, according to the sworn affidavit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a dispute between the park company and the rival company Marineland over the transport of a prized killer whale, Ikaika, to SeaWorld.

Benzodiazepines are a type of drug that includes the common human medications Valium and Xanax. The orcas’ mental health issues, SeaWorld’s critics say, are a direct result of their keeping the mammals in captivity.

The whales are depressed because they live in giant pools. I think anyone can understand that. They are prisoners. Yes, many of them are born into captivity, but does that really make it any better? Apparently not, if they are needing to be prescribed psychoactives to deal with “mental issues.”

Sea World is still reeling from the PR nightmare that was Blackfish. It tells the story of one of their killer whales – Tilikum. Tilikum has been accused of killing three people but is still retained by Sea World. He has fathered at least 21 whales from artificial insemination.

According to a Buzzfeed report, the animals are given the drugs to prevent them from acting aggressively. Jared Goodman, Director of Animal Law at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Buzzfeed he believes the only humane solution would be funding the development of coastal sanctuaries.

Breeding animals into captivity is a cruel practice; it’s also one that makes a lot of money and it’s a cruelty that parents all over the world are all too ready to ignore to give their kids the thrill of seeing a whale up close. It is pretty amazing, you have to admit. The only whale I’ve seen up close is a scale model of one at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There are many places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium that focus on conservation and education. Your child doesn’t have to see a whale grab a fish out of a trainer’s hand or do a backflip to marvel at its beauty.

Maybe reports like these and documentaries like Blackfish will urge people to care more about the issues of animals in captivity – and places like Sea World will begin to focus more on conservation and less on captivity and shows. It’s basically a theme park. I’m sure kids will still want to go even if they can’t see marine life performing tasks they were never meant to perform.

(photo: Getty Images)