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2007 KGTV Investigative Report on SeaWorld Killer Whale Display

2007 KGTV Investigative Report on SeaWorld Killer Whale Display

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Published by jmventre
Questions and Answers from A 2007 investigative report by KGTV with SeaWorld Entertainment. There are some fascinating answers here.
Questions and Answers from A 2007 investigative report by KGTV with SeaWorld Entertainment. There are some fascinating answers here.

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Published by: jmventre on Jan 26, 2014
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04/11/2014

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 KGTV Investigative Report on SeaWorld Killer Whale Display and Dolphin Interaction  Program Questions and Answers
While we thank Channel 10 for the opportunity to respond to these questions, we must express our disappointment regarding your sources. It appears that in researching this story you have accepted as fact the propaganda of animal rights extremists whose sole objective is denying Americans the privilege of experiencing marine mammals in places like SeaWorld. We have long been the leader in marine mammal display. The welfare of SeaWorld’s animals is our highest priority. SeaWorld parks have displayed killer whales for nearly four decades and in that time, we have conducted more than 160,000 shows and millions of interaction sessions, including husbandry, training, research, enrichment, play, veterinary care and exercise. While we recognize that there is an element of risk in any animal interaction, there have been a remarkably small number of serious incidents and no fatalities. We’d also like to remind KGTV and its viewers that correct common name for this species is “killer whale” not “orca.” “Orca” is part of the species’ Latin name. The shorthand “orca,” while in wide use, is incorrect. It would be like calling dogs “familiarus” or horses “caballus.”
Q1: Does SeaWorld have any comment on the deaths of the whales during the capture years ago in Puget Sound? 1965-1974?
A: Collections that occurred more than four decades ago have no bearing on the SeaWorld  parks that people visit today. Virtually nothing about killer whales was known in 1965. They were animals so feared and despised that they were routinely used by military pilots for aerial target practice. The techniques used in those early collections would not be employed today, primarily because we know far more about these animals today than we did in 1965. In any event, the question is irrelevant. SeaWorld hasn’t collected a killer whale from the wild since 1978 and can now point to the most successful breeding  program for this species in the zoological community. More than 80 percent of our killer whales were born in our parks or other zoological institutions. Many were born to  parents and even grandparents who were born in our care. Most of your viewers will recognize that asking the SeaWorld of 2007 to defend collection techniques employed in 1967 is unfair and does nothing to contribute to their understanding of the complex philosophical issues surrounding marine mammal display. It is, in fact, like us asking you to defend your station’s coverage of the Vietnam war.
Q2: Specifically, does SeaWorld have a comment on the death of the mother of the original  Shamu in 1965 or the deaths of 4 whales during a capture for SeaWorld by Ted Griffin and  Don Goldsberry? (Goldsberry became a VP for SeaWorld) We understand that the park was
 
owned by another entity at that time but wanted to offer you an opportunity to respond to this question.
A: The death of any animal under any circumstances saddens us, but we’re left to wonder why we are being asked about collections that occurred more than 40 years ago. We are not affiliated with Don Goldsberry or Ted Griffin in any way. They are not employed by SeaWorld now and, according to our records, haven’t been for decades. Here are the facts on killer whale collection: The Marine Mammal Protection Act, a federal law that exists to protect marine mammals in zoological habitats and wild marine mammals in U.S. territorial waters, sets out the terms under which animals like killer whales can be collected from the wild for public display. The MMPA did not exist until 1972 so any collection from the wild before then relied on techniques that would likely not meet MMPA standards and would certainly be unacceptable to SeaWorld today. In defense of individuals like Goldsberry and Griffin, however, almost the only thing known about killer whales in 1965 was that they were animals to be feared and despised. Fishermen shot them as a matter of routine. If there is a higher sensitivity and respect for these animals today, places like SeaWorld can claim some measure of credit. And, as a matter of fact, Goldsberry was never a vice president at SeaWorld.
Q3: What is SeaWorld doing about whale research to benefit whales in the wild?
A: A tremendous amount. Channel 10 itself has aired dozens of stories on SeaWorld’s contribution to the scientific understanding of wild marine animals, including whales. We have funded countless studies of killer whale behavior, including conflicts between fishermen and wild whales in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. We have sent teams to assist wild whales in distress, including a trip in the mid-1990s to rescue eight killer whales from Barnes Lake in Alaska and a trip just last month to stabilize and treat a newborn killer whale beached near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We rescue, rehabilitate and release more marine mammals than any organization in the world, including animals like J.J., the California gray whale raised in our care and released off the coast of San Diego. SeaWorld has more than 40 years of leadership in wildlife conservation and education. The success of the parks' animal rescue and rehabilitation programs, educational  programs and breeding programs are unparalleled in the world. The knowledge we have gained through the breeding programs in our parks has contributed to our understanding of killer whale biology, reproductive physiology, and behavior. This knowledge is important in assessing the status of wild populations. Originally, scientists thought that the gestation period for killer whales was 12 months. We have shown that in fact gestation is closer to 17 months; important to modeling expected population growth rates in the wild. We have documented growth patterns in killer whale calves. We have studied vocal development in killer whales and demonstrated that killer whale calves learn their vocalizations in a manner similar to the way that human children learn
 
language. We have developed effective means of handling and transporting killer whales. In a conservation sense, the animals in our zoological population provide a living laboratory for developing knowledge and techniques crucial to the future survival of endangered or threatened killer whale stocks. In fact, the knowledge we have gained from the killer whales in our parks is having an immediate impact on wild populations. For example, scientists from Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute were able to help Alaskan longline fishermen resolve a problem with killer whales taking black cod off their lines. Tensions had elevated to the point where fishermen were applying for “take” permits to use explosives and many whales were  being shot. The environmental community was advocating shutting down the fishery. Institute scientists, working from hearing sensitivity curves (audiograms) developed from the SeaWorld collection of killer whales, were able to study the noise made by the fishing vessels as they backhauled their gear, and discerned which components of the noise the whales were able to cue in on. The Institute was then able to recommend how fishermen could quiet their vessels to dramatically reduce the distance over which the vessels could  be heard by the whales, thereby resolving the problem. In addition to the scientific research and conservation value of the killer whales at SeaWorld, there is also a significant educational benefit that should not be overlooked. Over the years, nearly 300 million people of all walks of life have visited SeaWorld  parks. In our parks, visitors are exposed to marine mammals in an exhilarating and educational manner that is designed to instill an appreciation and respect for all living creatures and natural environments. The exhibits are designed to also inspire visitors to conserve our valuable natural resources by increasing awareness for the interrelationships of humans and the marine environment. Inspiring and engagement through education are the first steps in conservation. And our educational efforts reach well beyond our parks. SeaWorld offers an extraordinary number of special programs, including formal instructional programs for school children and teachers in our parks, outreach programs made available for schools that cannot visit the parks, distance education programs such as "Shamu TV," an award winning environmental television series, and the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Information Database internet Web site. And, of course, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens devote around-the-clock, behind-the-scenes and across-the-globe resources and technology to rescue, treat, shelter and release many species of stranded, sick and injured animals. Our parks rescue, rehabilitate and release more animals than any other organization in the world. Since 1970, the parks have rescued more than 13,000 animals, including several endangered and threatened species - that averages out to about one animal rescue every day for the past 34 years. At SeaWorld San Diego alone, more than 4,000 animals have been rescued in the last four decades. Our financial commitment to our Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is estimated at more than one million dollars per year.
Q4: What is SeaWorld doing to aid the whale population in the Puget Sound, the pods that  provided the first generation of whales for SeaWorld?

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