Killer Whales in Captivity

The captivity of killer whales has been a topic of debate for numerous years. Killer whales, also known as orcas, are the ocean’s top predators. The orcas are well known for their size and astounding beauty. This carnivorous species gained its name as “killer whales” due to the fact that they feed on the largest whales in the world, which are the blue whales. Sorrowfully, their strength and beauty attracted humans to commit heinous acts by keeping many of them captive.

Humans in the 60s were terrified of encountering these predators. Nevertheless, the human populations became their predator, and the ones these amazingly intelligent animals feared the most. The first killer whale that was captured was named Namu. He was captured by a man named Ted Griffin, the owned of the old Seattle Aquarium, in 1965. Moreover, he was the first man to swim, with a killer whale, which attracted many visitors and thus changed the ferocious reputations of the animal at hand. Griffin also captured a female killer whale to stay with Namu. However, the two whales were not friendly with each other. Henceforth, the calf, named Shamu, was sold to a new Marine Park in California, which eventually led to the enslavement of killer whales with the main purpose of serving entertainment. Thus, the giant corporating named Sea World was built.

People from all over the world came to Sea World to watch these astounding animals perform. Soley being in the presence of those whales makes people feel something big. Even more so, watching the trainers interact with the whales is absolutely amazing. Yet, these whales should have never been captured, to begin with. Many people, including myself, fall victim to the theatrical show these huge corporations build. As a kid, I remember watching the shows and being mesmerized by the relationships the trainers had with those huge animals. Even though, I do, without a doubt believe that these trainers love and do indeed have a relationship with those animals; they should not be held captive against their will to serve humans with entertainment.

The death of the famous trainer, Dawn, at SeaWorld by the killer whale named Tilikum opened the eyes of many people and raised attention to the ongoing issue of animal captivity. According to the documentary “Blackfish”, until this day there is no record of an Orca doing any harm to any human in the wild. Nevertheless, when held in captivity for years, they become very stressed out, which eventually led to the many deaths and accidents involving these whales. Following the incident, SeaWorld ended the theatrical shows and shift their efforts to education.

“They are an animal with great spiritual power, not to be meddled with”

From Blackfish

While I am certain that capturing killer whales and holding them captive was extremely unethical and cruel, I do not know whether these animals would be able to survive in the wild after being held captive for so long. If exceedingly sad to think that some of the whales never lived a day in their lives in the wild. According to David Kirby, the killer whales held in captivity would be able to readapt to the wild and be able to live a healthy life. On the other hand, Seaworld claims that releasing the whales into the wild would be inhumane as they would never adapt to the wilderness. Furthermore, they state that multiple killer whales were born in captivity and that they would not know the first thing about living in the ocean.

The heinous acts of captivity continue to live on. While a lot of positive change has already happened there is still a long way ahead until the end of captivity for the killer whales. Animals should not be enslaved to serve humans with entertainment. There is a lot we all should learn from them.  I wholeheartedly believe that animals should be treated as equal to humans. They are living creatures with feelings, that should have their rights wholly respected. How can a country or someone be considered evolved if they injure or take away innocent lives? 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animal are treated”


Animals are not supposed to be held in captivity, acting as slaves, serving humans with temporary amusement. To be their true selves, animals need out in the wild, free from any human intervention. However, we cannot expect that all the cruelty will stop on its own. We, as a group, need to put an end to it. Small gestures can have a big impact on the matter and will most definitely make a change. Working together we will achieve our goals and hopefully make a better world where everyone is equally respected. 

A list of documentaries for more information of the captivity of killer whales:

  • Blackfish: The documentary Blackfish is extremely interesting and had a major impact on companies that hold killer whales captive. It is available on Netflix.
  • Long Gone Wild: The documentary “Long Gone Wild” is exceedingly interesting as it explores both before and after the documentary “Blackfish” was released. It shows how the documentary had a positive effect on the captivity killer whales.
  • Inside the Tank: This documentary offers a variety of perspectives and insight into the captivity of killer whales.

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3 thoughts on “Killer Whales in Captivity

  1. You have all my respect! It’s encouraging to see that young people such as you take a stand to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves, therefore, not being able to defend themselves as well from the perils posed by humans. Furthermore, if they actually do something to preserve their own lives, they are likely to be misunderstood and considered dangerous… as if humans on their own are not dangerous towards all other living creatures, nature in general, and even to themselves.
    Besides my respect, you have my admiration and attention!
    Keep it up! The world needs people like you! 😉

  2. I completely agree with your position about this topic. When I went to SeaWorld, I assumed all of that performance was absolutely beautiful… and that’s exactly what they want us to think. Everything is meticulously made up to deceive the public. It’s frustrating when you truly realize and comprehend how this industry actually works; how they capture the animals from their natural habitat to put them into captivity in a tiny space to become a money machine. This is enslavement, animals deserve to be as free as humans do.

    It’s unbelievable how the majority of society still believes this is acceptable, out of pure ignorance or lack of information. And that’s why it’s so important to talk about it, to make people aware of all the cruelty behind this kind of entertainment.

    I admire you for showing what is hidden from us about animal exploration and nature destruction. Thank you for this. I hope your texts reach more and more people!!

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