Animal Captivity of Orcas Should Be Banned - Essay Example

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The airing of ‘’Blackfish’’, a documentary about killer whales in captivity, by CNN has generated an intense debate about the captivity of orcas. The documentary shows the death of a trainer, Dawn Brancheau by an orca in captivity called Tilikum. The death is a reminder…
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Animal Captivity of Orcas Should Be Banned
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Animal Captivity of Orcas Should be banned Animal Captivity of Orcas Should be banned The airing of ‘’Blackfish’’, a documentary about killer whales in captivity, by CNN has generated an intense debate about the captivity of orcas. The documentary shows the death of a trainer, Dawn Brancheau by an orca in captivity called Tilikum. The death is a reminder of the danger that orcas in captivity pose to their trainers. The documentary has prompted the state of California to introduce laws banning orca shows at SeaWorld (Martinez, 2014). In as much as several benefits arise from capturing orcas, the act is wrong.
Corporate greed and interests primarily drive keeping killer whales for amusement (Martinez, 2014). The need to maximize profits and minimize costs means that the welfare of the animals is neglected (Clemmit, 2010). Unlike the use of animals for medical research, this practice is merely for the amusement of the public.It serves no greater good besides giving people momentary pleasure. The death of Dawn Brancheau in a deadly encounter with the orca responsible for two other deaths shows the consequences of vested economic interests. It would have been prudent to ensure that such an animal does not encounter another human being.
The lives of trainers are endangered (Martinez, 2014). The documentary explores the death of Dawn Brancheau who was killed by a captive orca. The same orca had killed two other trainers. Although there are generally accepted occupational hazards, the death of three people by one animal is unacceptable. The animals are destabilized when they are away from their indigenous habitats making them violent.
The practice has a negative effect on the mental health of the animals. The film suggests that Tilikum had been driven to madness by his captivity (Martinez, 2014). Captured animals live in a restrictive environment causing them to undergo pain, distress and in extreme cases death. Many marine biologists believe that orcas are designed to travel millions of miles in a single day. The restricted environment makes them irritated and a danger to people (Martinez, 2014).
It is morally wrong to use animals for human amusement. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has equated the practice to slavery (Martinez, 2014). It is morally wrong to inflict pain on one creature for the benefit of another. The animals have the ability to feel and should not be tortured (Clemmit, 2010).
Modern science is increasingly showing that animals are more complex creatures than expected (Clemmit, 2010). A good example is chickens which do not even qualify for Animal protection under the U.S Humane Slaughter Act. They have been found to have complex brains, perceptions and emotions (Clemmit, 2014).
Proponents of the practice argue that keeping of orcas in zoos is important for the growth of science and education. The industry enables people to have a personal and fulfilling experience with animals they would otherwise have never come across. Eleven million people visit SeaWorld annually to see killer whales (CNN, 2014). The experience is expected to create a better understanding of killer whales.
The Blackfish documentary has brought an interesting topic that is often ignored during environmental debates. While a case can be made for the use of animals in medical research, it would be difficult to argue their use in entertainment purposes. The danger they pose to their trainers and the resultant moral questions make the practice not worthwhile. In as much as their captivity contributes to the development of science and education, it is not reason enough to remove the animals from their environment. The government and authorities involved should take appropriate measures to ensure the practice is outlawed.
Clemmit, M. (2010, January 8) Animal Rights: Is the treatment of Animals improving? CQ
Researcher 20(1)1-24
CNN. (2013). ‘SeaWorld responds to questions about ‘orcas’ Captive film’.
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Martinez, M. (2014). California Bill will ban orca shows at SeaWorld.
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