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Dr Naomi Rose Speaks Out on GMA about Premature Captive Orca Deaths

October 7, 2010

Kalina (foreground) in the midst of a double stand-on, with her mom Katina (background)

As reported at The Orca Project on Tuesday; Kalina, a 25 year old orca who was once dubbed the “Original Baby Shamu”  died suddenly after experiencing problems on the afternoon of October 4th. Kalina, the first orca born and raised in captivity at SeaWorld Parks became the latest victim of premature death of killer whales in captivity and raised the number of orcas to die at SeaWorld parks to 4 in just the past 4 months, including; Sumar, Taima and the stillborn calf of Taima.

As an aside, Taima died from Uterine Prolapse. Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to stretch and ‘drop down’. And that is caused by her being breed far too young and far too often. It took her nearly 24 hours of labor before she finally died. It must have been a horrible and painful for her. Moreover, they couldn’t do anything and, in fact, didn’t know what to do (obviously), which simply reinforces the point that they should not be breeding whales in captivity.

This morning, Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D., a Senior Scientist at the Humane Society International appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the recent rash of orca deaths at SeaWorld and the prevelance of their premature demise in captivity.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman Reports:

“Government scientists and animal rights activists are telling us that it’s captivity itself that is actually killing these animals. In the 25 years since her birth 24 whales have died in captivity, that’s roughly one whale each year, 3 have died in the past 4 months alone, and not a single one of the was over (the age of) 30” —–Matt Guttman, ABC News

So what is causing the alarming rate of premature Killer Whale deaths at SeaWorld parks?  Dr. Rose offers hers views:

“When they’re confined, I think they’re under stress, I think they’re at the very least very bored; and both stress and boredom, and depression, can kill you.” She went on to say:  “The three whales that died this year were 21, 12 and 25. That’s not even middle aged for wild orcas. Orcas are in fact just too big to be maintained properly and adequately in captivity. SeaWorld is telling you otherwise but they are misleading the public when they say that.”  —–Dr Naomi Rose, Ph.D., Humane Society International

You can watch the October 07, 2010 broadcast of “What’s Killing Shamu?” on ABC News Good Morning America with Matt Gutmann & Dr. Rose here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It is clear that captivity is having a profound effect on the life expectancy of orcas in captivity. In the wild, male orcas live an average of 30+ yrs and females 50+ yrs (many can live well into their 80s or 90s)  and in captivity orcas rarely make it out of their teens.

<Click here for The Orca Project’s report on Kalina’s death and a video of Kalina’s birth 25 years ago>

Tell us what you think: Are orcas dying too young in captivity vs. the wild? We’d like to hear your comments.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2015 7:47 pm

    In response to Courtnie in another post, I don’t think the owners of Sea World *can* be reasoned with to phase out their orca program. Orcas are BIG money for Sea World, undeniably the main attraction (just look up Sea World on Google images). As fun as it is to see them up close, our entertainment is not worth the cruelty and sad lives the orcas are forced into. The extremely short lives they live in captivity is clear evidence they should not be kept in a box, much less the controversial trainer & whale deaths. Even Shamu only lived for 6 years in captivity(!) according to Appendix A –

    It’s pretty clear at this point the only thing that will get Sea World to phase out their orca program is massive public education and protest. Orcas are very intelligent social mammals and should not be forced to live in such cramped isolated conditions for our entertainment.

  2. Deborah allison permalink
    November 23, 2013 6:47 pm

    Dr. Rose- i will never visit seaworld again. I just read death at seaworld. You are an amazing person. May god bless you. Never give up your amazing battle against those assholes at seaworld!

  3. ulisesfan permalink
    February 9, 2011 2:47 pm

    as i know, orcas in wild reach an age arround 100, but only the females.
    the oldest male, J1 Ruffles, (missed at the moment) is arround 50, all other males are much younger.
    so many people say keiko died too young, he was arround 25, if i remember and thats high for a male orca.
    thats what i learnded, males are always with their mothers, females sometimes left family and create a new with cousins and childs.
    its a really complex system and not always complete understand.

    also in the wild many orcas die on things similar or familiar to seaworld orcas.
    like stomach problems, birthgiving for example.
    and not every secound calf surfive the first winter.

    its such a drama in parks, cause we know every little fin that was seen and lost.
    in wild, orcas appear disappear, we realize, comment and remember, but we never say: somthing is wrong.

    • aurajinv permalink
      February 9, 2011 8:45 pm

      Yes, ulisesfan, something is wrong. It is your support and reasoning for captivity that is wrong.

      There are too many obvious symptoms the orcas in captivity display that tell us that they are depressed and bored. This is a stark contrast to their wild families.

      Wild orcas don’t have to grind their teeth against bars in a futile effort to escape their prisons, because they are free. ALL beings deserve liberation: black men, cattle, woman, gays/LGBT, chickens, native people, and yes, even orcas.

  4. January 8, 2011 6:16 pm

    I’ve been following your blog since you started. You have made amazing progress. This site is an inspiration for all pursuing a long transition versus the big chop.

    – Rob

  5. kitara permalink
    December 25, 2010 5:47 am

    Im sorry but Taima DIED from Birth complications, Sumar had a twisted instestine and Kalina had a bacterial infections.. Not depression not boredom just illnesses. it happens around the world with both animas and people. So Do your research before stating childish thoughts. Their going to be there till their deaths, lolita included stop waiting your time. After keiko everyone beieved it was a mistake. Your never going to win CG, thats right i know who you are, and Seaworld is well aware if your antics.

    • January 3, 2011 7:02 pm

      Pardon me, Kitara, for my tardy reply. I just discovered it here today.

      Kalina died of Bacterial Septicemia. Translated, it is a systemic inflammatory response to a severe infection. In other words, she had blood poisoning.
      Causes of Septicemia include:
      •Wound infection
      •Surgical infection
      •Tooth abscess
      •Gall bladder infection

      She didn’t die of a Gall Bladder Infection, Appendicitis, or burns. Did she have some (minor) surgical procedure or other wounds SeaWorld didn’t share with the world? Perhaps. But the fact is, she died of a blood infection which leaves only tooth abscess as the cause of death. Infections of the mouth or teeth, when untreated by antibiotics, cause septicemia. She has had a history of poor oral health that is well documented, many fractured teeth as well as those that were manually drilled. The blood infection was treatable and her death preventable. However, she has most assuredly been treated with antibiotics so often over her lifetime and up to a point where they were ineffective. Antibiotics are rendered useless if they are over used. The same way they are ineffective with humans after prolonged usage. Also, Kalina had a lot of stress in her life. She was moved around from park to park many times in her life and attacked by Kayla in the past as well. And the only reason we know about it is because cameras were rolling during the show. She had plenty of stress in her life to cause a very compromised immune system.

      Sumar died of Intestinal/Mesenteric Volvulus. This is not an ‘illness’ that comes suddenly. Nausea, vomiting of bile, bowel movements that are mixed with blood and mucus, constipation, diarrhea, lethargy and fever occur as symptoms. Without immediate treatment, volvulus can lead to strangulation of the twisted bowel loop, ischemia, infarction, perforation, and fatal peritonitis. Since he doesn’t have the ability to speak and say, “I’m having major pains here.”, and they weren’t able to pick up on the clear signs he was mortally ill until the day before he died, they fed him antibiotics, (which would do nothing to heal this particular ailment), and instead Sumar died a painful death because they are not equipped to treat such a thing.

      Taima died from Uterine Prolapse. Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to stretch and ‘drop down’. And that is caused by her being breed far too young and far too often. It took her nearly 24 hours of labor before she finally died. It must have been a horrible and painful for her. Moreover, they couldn’t do anything and, in fact, didn’t know what to do (obviously), which simply reinforces the point that they should not be breeding whales in captivity.

      Furthermore; all disease is a “dis-ease” brought on by stress or not taking care of our internal environment. Humans have choices. Captive Orcas do not.

      By the way, which “antics” are those that SeaWorld is aware of, ‘Kitara’?

    • Jordan permalink
      January 16, 2011 10:17 pm

      Yes, Taima died from a placenta previa and a prolapsed uterus, which IS COMPLETELY NATURAL since she was constantly paired with Tilikum night and day to get her knocked up so SW can have another crowd-drawing calf.

      It must be also it’s COMPLETELY NATURAL that Taima would beat the crap out of the first two calves, Sumar and Tekoa, because that’s how mother orcas treat their young in the wild, right?!

    • Carla permalink
      February 25, 2013 10:00 am

      Having just returned from SeaWorld, I am telling all of my friends to please not visit the Orca or Dolphin shows. I was amazed by the beauty of these animals and very much thrilled by the shows but quickly realized, if it were not for me, the person being “entertained” and Sea World, the organization profiting from these captive creatures, they would all be free. I am not surprised by the greed which produces such horrible conditions for these majestic animals but I am sickened and angered that they are suffering. Orcas and Dolphins deserve to be free. Just like you and me. I say we should place the Sea World Executives in cages for as long as it takes for them to agree Orcas do not belong in small enclosures and captivity. It’s just a disgrace and an affront to these beautiful animals that we care so little about their well being. I know the trainers at SeaWorld care about the animals they interact with. I am not blaming any of them. I am saying it’s time to release the prisoners and give them the freedom and dignity that should have been their birthright.

  6. November 15, 2010 1:00 pm

    I’d be pretty darn stressed if I was incarcerated for my whole life too. It’s no wonder so many of these females die when pregnant, that’s already a stress on the body. Being held captive can’t make that much better 😦

  7. Arden Greenwood permalink
    November 14, 2010 7:58 pm

    Could it not be possible for this company to come to the realization that it is cruel to take such a huge aquatic mammal and separate it for an entire lifetime from the natural setting of the vast sea?

    We, in the business of natural reserves, have placed elephants and other land animals in a more natural setting. At one time, in a more unenlightened time, we did place these mammals in small cages for our public’s viewing.

    The fact is that most people are very unfamiliar with this ORCA or any large animal of the
    oceans. The tragic irony is that it is actually more unnatural, and thereby cruel , to capture and contain a sea mammal because the similarity between the sea and a concrete tank is simply ridiculous. Aside from the impossibility of making a pool or tank as large as necessary, it is virtually impossible to simulate the depths of the ocean or the richness of plant and sea life within it.

    Aren’t we finally better than this ludicrous model to display these animals?

    Can we reach enough people to ask these Marine parks to please take the orca off the logo.
    The orca is not a cartoon.

    Are we evolved enough to finally realize this containment costs too much in the lives of all beings concerned?

  8. aurajinv permalink
    November 5, 2010 8:37 pm

    Theresa B was right in saying this practice is wrong. I support that view.

    Money is the only reason why ANY animal exploitation exists – meat, pets, circuses, animal testing, entertainment (zoos, sea parks, etc). This is not said directly though by the exploiters, it is covered up by false reasoning such as nutrition, conservation, protection. When in fact, there is no nutrition in meat, no conservational benefits of zoos, and caged animals certainly are not protected. I URGE PEOPLE TO SEEK THE TRUTH IN MY STATEMENTS!

    We all inherently know animal exploitation is morally wrong though we are force feed by multinational companies at such a young age to believe otherwise. It has become ground into our heads by these liars, passed on from generation to generation. But by understanding this and taking responsibility for our actions we can say NO to animal slavery just as we said NO to human slavery and woman denigration in earlier centuries.

    The least we can do is choose not to go to support these companies and practices. The best way I have found is by not eating any animals or their byproducts (veganism). It is ethical, saves earths resources and it very healthy. My hope is that if you have read my comments you will open your mind and research the facts of my claims, seek the truth yourself and take action. All my best in your journey.

  9. October 26, 2010 12:17 pm

    i always thought that ABC news is even better than CNN when delivering up to date news-`.

  10. janine andujar clark permalink
    October 10, 2010 6:52 pm

    If Tilikum dies it will be the saddest day in the world. He HAS GOT to be retired poor guy.

  11. Theresa Bongiovanni permalink
    October 9, 2010 6:53 am

    It’s wrong in the first place to use animals as a way to make a profit (money). And it is wrong to take them out of their natural habitat, by doing this it creates a prison type of a setting, and takes them away from their loved ones. And ultimately make them very lonely and sad.
    Please the greed has to stop somewhere. How about giving them back their lives.
    They deserve no less, they have done their time!!!!!

    Theresa Bongiovanni


  2. Flash 2 Ajax – Tommy Lee: SeaWorld Trainers ‘Masturbate’ Whale With ‘A Cow’s Vagina’

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