An Open Letter to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

While we applaud the SeaWorld decisions to end immediately their captive breeding program and to phase out theatrical shows by 2019, we cannot in good conscience allow the misrepresentations in your new advertising campaign to go unanswered and unchallenged.

Despite your progress, 28 orcas remain in concrete tanks that are detrimental to their health. The best solution for those animals is to relocate them to seaside sanctuaries, as living in natural habitat has been proven to promote the health and well-being of whales and dolphins.

We emphatically reject your mischaracterization of seaside sanctuaries as “sea cages”. Moreover, your current ad campaign blatantly conflates the effort to move orcas to sanctuaries with release to the wild, which is not being proposed by any responsible organization. Your ad is an attempt to create a false choice: either keep orcas at your facilities, or drop them in the ocean to fend for themselves. What is being proposed as the best option is the relocation of captive orcas to carefully managed seaside sanctuaries where orcas can thrive without performances and the well-known stressors of living in a concrete tank, and instead receive care, feeding, and veterinary support in a more natural setting.

Sanctuaries for the retirement of captive animals are a longstanding, effective and globally-accepted alternative to artificial enclosures for other large, wide-roaming animals such as elephants, primates, big cats, horses and many other species. It is a highly successful model.

There is no valid reason not to extend the sanctuary model to whales and dolphins.

We call on you to demonstrate your truthfulness and authenticity by working with others to develop seaside retirement sanctuaries for orcas and the other cetaceans in your care.

Thank you.


Lori Marino, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy

7 Replies to “An Open Letter to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment”

  1. This letter is so nice to see. And exactly what I have been saying the whole time. These whales would most likely not do well out on their own they have been taken care of too long but there is no reason we have to keep and torture them in tiny tanks the rest of their lives.

    1. Jacqueline Read March 31, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Please, please, please. Orcas are not whales. They are dolphins.

  2. Having read SeaWorld’s statement, I wholeheartedly agree that they are trying to conflate legitimate orca retirement into sea sanctuaries with wholesale release in the wild. I must further refute Manby’s statement that no one has successfully released dolphins into the wild, as Carol J. Howard’s book “Dolphin Chronicles” describes just such an effort, carried out by the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  3. Kimberly Hover March 30, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I agree with this letter wholeheartedly! The orcas in Sea World captivity need to go to ocean sanctuaries, not languish in tanks. Please release them from this unnatural life of torment.

  4. There are so many positive aspects of Seapens that Seaworld can gain from. I venture to say that SW has more to gain than any other entity in the equation. Why are they not able to see how they too can benefit? The trainers, care givers, and scientist can all benefit. Loving and scientific care is still provided at a Seapen. Any humane person would support a Seapen setting over a concrete tank. It is a win, win, win…..situation.

  5. I, too, agree that we must keep “encouraging” SW to assist in doing a good thing for the Orca’s in transferring them to sea sanctuaries. It is well know and documented (if one cares to look) that many animals even many born in captivity can transition to a more natural environment. However, it appears as if SW does not really dig into the research on these sea pens with a mindset to learn. With so much tooting about the research they do and the scientific staff they employ, it is difficult to grasp how they could NOT see the benefit of it. Their participation in this endeavor would translate in more bottom line income. They have the physical assets to contribute and benefit from. If they choose to ignore and discredit what the real mammal scientists are saying from around the world no less, I can only attribute their stance to a financial bottom line. That is totally unacceptable. I hope that all who champion on behalf of all whales will bring every resource to bear till we accomplish this task.

  6. SW is dragging their feet simply because they do not want to give up their huge money maker entertainment. If SW had any compassion at all they would release these tortured animals to seaside sanctuaries in order to give these animals the life they were intended for.

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