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The Whales Behind the Tank Glass

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Dry Statistics


At least 134 orcas (killer whales) have been taken into captivity from the wild since 1961. One hundred and seven (80%) are now dead. (An additional male escaped after 2.25 years in captivity. His fate is unknown.)


Of the 107 which died, average length of survival in captivity was under six years (range: 1 day - 27.2 years).


Most captives die before they reach their early 20s, yet in the wild, females may live as long as 80 years or more.


As of October 2000, a total of 47 orcas (26 wild-caught and 21 captive-born calves) are held in 13 marine parks in five countries. (This figure of 47 includes a male orca, Keiko, who has been moved to a seapen in Iceland as part of a rehabilitation and potential release programme).


Of 57 known pregnancies in captivity since 1968, only 21 calves (37%) have survived.


Sea World owns 20 orcas, 42% of the world-wide captive total. Around 10 million people visit Sea World parks annually.


Sea World has itself estimated that as much as 70% of its income derives from visitors attracted by the orca shows.

Source: WDCS's report - "Captive Orcas - Dying to Entertain You" - gives an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of orcas in captivity



A Killer Business


The Shame of Shamu

The same number of orcas have died at Sea World in the last decade than between 1965 to 1989!

1965 to 1987 - 13 dead

animal name

sex

capture/birth date

capture/birth place

date of death time in captivity
Shamu

F

captured 10/65

WA

08/23/71

5 yrs 10 mos

Kilroy

M

captured 08/66

WA

09/23/78

12 yrs 1 mo

Kandu

F

captured 02/67

WA

06/16/71

4 yrs 4 mos

Ramu

M

captured 02/67

WA

01/12/82

15 yrs 11 mos

Winston

M

captured 08/70

WA

04/28/86

15 yrs 8 mos

Kandu III

F

captured 08/71

WA

06/75

3 yrs 10 mos

Kona

F

captured 08/71

WA

09/28/77

6 yrs 1 mo

Canuck

M

captured 03/72

WA

12/01/74

2 yrs 9 mos

Sandy

F

captured 03/73

WA

10/77

4 yrs 7 mos

Frankie

M

captured 08/73

BC

01/29/74

5 mos

Canuck II

M

captured 10/77

Ice

08/02/81

3 yrs 10 mos

no name

F

captured 10/78

Ice

09/03/79

11 mos

Orky

M

captured 05/68

BC

09/26/88

20 yrs 4 mos

1989 to 1999 - 13 dead

animal name

sex

capture/birth date

capture/birth place

date of death

time in captivity

Orky

M

captured 05/68

BC

09/26/88

20 yrs 4 mos

Knootka

F

captured 03/70

WA

03/13/90

20 yrs

Kanduke

M

captured 08/75

BC

09/20/90

15 yrs 1 mo

Gudrun

F

captured 10/76

Ice

02/25/96

19 yrs 4 mos

Kenau

F

captured 10/76

Ice

08/06/91

14 yrs 10 mos

Kona II

F

captured 10/77

Ice

10/15/87

10 yrs

Kandu V

F

captured 10/77

Ice

08/21/89

11 yrs 10 mos

Kahana

F

captured 10/78

Ice

05/14/91

12 yrs 7 mos

Kotar

M

captured 10/78

Ice

04/01/95

16 yrs 6 mos

Nootka IV

F

captured 10/82

Ice

09/13/94

11 yrs 11 mos

Samoa

F

captured 11/83

Ice

03/14/92

8 yrs 4 mos

Haida's calf

F

captive born 11/20/94

Sea World, TX

12/28/94

5 weeks

Nyar

F

captive born 12/31/93

Sea World, FL

04/01/96

2 yrs 4 mos

Katerina

F

captive born 11/04/88

Sea World, FL

05/08/99

10 yrs 6 mos

Sources: National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Inventory Reports, permit applications, and Erich Hoyt's Orca - the Whale Called Killer (3rd edition,1990.)

Source: Orcas in Captivity