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