Yet Another Captive Killer Whale Injury

October 8, 2012
NAKAI (c) Orca Research Trust

They are to the sea what we are to the land—intelligent, social, with language and play, capable of learning, and with populations stretching from pole to pole. They can live for over 80 years in the wild and now we know the male killer whales stay with their mothers for their entire lives.

Now with the scientific knowledge of these complex animals, we need to change our behavior and realize we have outgrown the need to keep such wild, enormous, complex, intelligent and free-ranging animals in captivity, where their behavior is not only unnatural, it can become pathological. Its because of this, I’m sadden to learn of the recent injury sustained by Nakai, an 11 year-old captive orca at SeaWorld California. Last week he was photographed with a chunk of flesh missing from his lower jaw. There has been much speculation as to what happened; but the origin of the wound is only the beginning of the bigger issue: killer whales (orca) in captivity.

As Nakai continues jumping through hoops (even with his injury) in San Diego; Morgan, a young orca taken from Dutch waters, also tries to do her tricks despite constant bullying and attacks from other orca with whom she shares her tank. Nearly 6000 miles away from SeaWorld California, in Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, Morgan awaits another opportunity to be returned to the wild.

We should continue to refuse to be manipulated by greed and trust that goodwill and justice will prevail.

Please stay tuned for an important update on Morgan and how you can help.

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Warm Regards,


Photo: Photographs of Nakai have been released by orca expert Ingrid Visser, which clearly show four puncture marks at the bottom right of the wound - the spacing matches that for orca teeth as you can see by comparing them to Nakai's teeth in the same photo. As others have speculated, it is possible that SeaWorld staff members cauterized the wound with lasers to get rid of the rakes before anyone outside of the park saw the injury. But they left those four punctures since they would have had to take too much flesh to remove them. © Orca Research Trust