I'm a former Sea World trainer and what I saw there was disturbing – it's a prison for orcas and should be shutdown
8th May 2022

A SEAWORLD trainer has warned that 'stressed' killer whales being kept in prison-like conditions could trigger more terrifying attacks on humans.

The former trainer urged Brits not to visit the amusement park as their cash was "paying for this cruelty to continue".


John Hargrove left SeaWorld 10 years ago when he joined the fight for orcas in captivity to be given better conditions.

He described the whales as damned to "lives of quiet desperation" that could lead to "violent behaviour and deadly attacks".

Animal rights activists have spent years campaigning for the release of marine life from America's most popular water theme parks.

In 2016, SeaWorld announced it would no longer breed the animals but said it would keep the remaining ones to "provide visitors to our parks with experiences that matter".

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But Hargrove says these beautiful marine creatures were suffering a fate akin to "solitary confinement".

Speaking in the documentary, the 49-year-old said: "Physical and psychological damage endured by human prisoners in solitary confinement is well documented.

"Orcas at amusement parks such as SeaWorld suffer the same fate.

"I can tell you from my 14 years of experience that I personally witnessed the orcas – as well as other dolphins and marine animals – suffer the same physical and psychological trauma.

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"Imagine spending your entire life trapped in a small enclosure."

He also urged visitors to stop visiting to save the animals as their cash was contributing to the problem.

He said: "Many visitors – unaware that their cash is paying for this cruelty to continue – are tourists who go to SeaWorld as part of their package holidays."

He claimed that Tilikum, the orca that famously killed his colleague Dawn Brancheau in 2010, "wasn't the villain".

He said: "He is not the villain in this story. He's also not the only orca at SeaWorld to kill a trainer.

"We had countless serious injuries and near fatalities during my career, caused by many different orcas.

"Confinement causes not only chronic health issues but also extreme stress that leads to violent behaviour and deadly attacks."

According to Hargrove, more than 40 orcas and 400 dolphins and whales have tied at SeaWorld.

He said they would die from pneumonia, infections, traumatic injuries, encephalitis, heart failure, intestinal gangrene and "other ailments caused by extreme confinement".

He also said the creatures often broke their teeth chewing on concrete in their enclosures and slammed their heads against the walls of their water cages.

KANDU ATTACKS

SeaWorld says that it has drastically changed its practices after an orca named Kandu 5 attacked five trainers.

A SeaWorld spokesperson previously said: "Trainers have not been in the water training or performing with killer whales at SeaWorld since 2010. 

"There have been no incidents as described in this article since these changes were made more than a decade ago.  

"Our hundreds of veterinarians and care specialists provide world-class medical care.  

"None of the killer whales in our care live a solitary life and they participate in positive reinforcement sessions daily, engaging in a range of different activities to ensure they receive plenty of physical and mental exercise. 

"Additionally, the study of orcas in our care by our scientists and third-party organisations has directly informed the world’s knowledge of and ability to protect whales in the wild."



Now animal rights group PETA is urging holidaymakers to boycott holidays at the famed Florida theme park.

Tripadvisor, Virgin Holidays, and British Airways Holidays already ban these types of promotions.

SeaWorld says that it has drastically changed its practices and that the sorts of incidents which happened in the past could now never take place.

A SeaWorld spokesperson previously said: "Trainers have not been in the water training or performing with killer whales at SeaWorld since 2010. 

"There have been no incidents as described in this article since these changes were made more than a decade ago.  

"Our hundreds of veterinarians and care specialists provide world-class medical care.  

"None of the killer whales in our care live a solitary life and they participate in positive reinforcement sessions daily, engaging in a range of different activities to ensure they receive plenty of physical and mental exercise. 

"Additionally, the study of orcas in our care by our scientists and third-party organisations has directly informed the world’s knowledge of and ability to protect whales in the wild."

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On its website, SeaWorld says: "Now, SeaWorld invites you to connect in an inspiring new way with the ocean’s most powerful predator.

"Discover the importance of play for orcas and dive deeper into their masterful hunting techniques. Learn about SeaWorld’s commitment for the killer whales in our care."

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