Keeping a wild animal captive leads to mistakes

Last Wednesday a trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando was killed by a whale. According to CNN, trainer Dawn Brancheau was one of the park’s most experienced animal trainers. The whale that attacked her, Tillikum, is a 12,000-pound orca that has been involved in two other fatalities.

Was this tragedy preventable? According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it was. These wild and dangerous animals are confined to spaces so small it feels like a bathtub to these giant sea creatures. Maybe SeaWorld is involved in animal cruelty and the animals are not content. According to the PETA Web site, in the wild these whales swim up to 100 miles a day. Confined to these tanks, the animals feel trapped and frustrated. It’s just not natural.

Experts aren’t surprised when whales attack humans, even though they are not known to be a threat to us. They just don’t know they are supposed to be gentle with us. It’s not really their fault. They think they are playing with us because they don’t have a clue how fragile we are.

These animals are smart and clever and shouldn’t be made to amuse humans especially when the price they pay is so high. Imagine being isolated and alone in a tank and maybe even deprived of food (one of the trainers’ tricks to get them to learn the performances) and unable to swim freely.

Imagine seeing the trainer get killed. That must have been horrifying for children watching. This should not be repeated. Some people say the whale should be euthanized. This makes me very angry. That whale doesn’t know he did anything wrong. What needs to happen is his release.

PETA is mounting a campaign right now for the release of this whale and other sea animals that perform at SeaWorld before something like this has to happen again. Sadly, the park remained open after Brancheau’s death and, as the saying goes, the show will go on.

However, the quality of life for these animals continues to dwindle. Nature has given us a gift, bestowing these majestic creatures on our planet. They are amazing to watch and interesting to learn about. But I believe if people truly want to celebrate these animals, they should allow them to live their lives as nature intended: free and in the open sea.

According to National Geographic, killer whales are ferocious predators who love to hunt seals, sea lions, fish and squid. They thrive on social interaction and have been known to live in groups called pods consisting of up to 40 whales.

Going from the ocean to captivity is a sad reality for these beautiful whales. By boycotting SeaWorld, joining PETA and writing letters we can begin to express our frustration so we can put an end to these terrible tragedies. More humans shouldn’t have to die so people can be entertained.

This whale is trying to tell us something, and we should listen. It’s a little more than interesting to me that there are zero documented killer whale attacks on humans in nature, yet the attacks by whales in captivity keep mounting.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.