My name is Chris, and I’m a veterinarian at SeaWorld. My entire professional life has been focused on the care and welfare of animals, including killer whales.
You might have heard attacks from PETA saying our killer whales live only a fraction as long as whales in the wild. They say, "In captivity, orcas’ average life span plummets to just nine years."
But the author of an independent study, Dr. Douglas DeMaster, of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying, “Survival in the wild is comparable to survival in captivity.”
There’s no other way to say it ... PETA is not giving you the facts.
SeaWorld has several killer whales in their 30s and one that is close to 50 — right in line with what is seen in the wild. In fact, a July 2014 Associated Press (AP) report analyzing 50 years of data from the federal Marine Mammal Inventory Report found that killer whales born at our parks “had an average life expectancy of 46 years.”
It’s frustrating that PETA gets a lot of attention by twisting statistics and falsely attacking us. As someone who cares for these incredible animals, their health and well-being is my priority every day. Just like doctors, we veterinarians take an oath. If PETA’s accusations were true, I wouldn’t work here.
When SeaWorld opened its doors 50 years ago, global understanding of killer whales was just beginning. The world has changed a lot since then, and SeaWorld has continued to change with it. Today, our whales live as long as those in the wild, and our study of them is helping conservationists better understand and protect killer whales and other marine animals everywhere.
- Chris Dold, Veterinarian, SeaWorld