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Another Orca Dies At SeaWorld Orlando

In Defense Of Animals calls for end to public display of captive orcas

In Defense of Animals (IDA) says the death of Taima, a 20-year-old orca who died Sunday while giving birth to her stillborn calf at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida reinforces IDA's argument that orcas are unsuitable for life in captivity. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must create regulations to prohibit captive breeding and phase out the public display of orcas. Tilikum, a six-ton orca also held captive at SeaWorld, is the father of Taima's stillborn calf. Tilikum killed his trainer in February.

Orcas do not thrive in captivity and die decades before their average life expectancy in the wild, which is 80-90 years for females and 50-60 years for males. Most captive orcas die before they reach 20. Over the past 24 years, 23 orcas have died at SeaWorld facilities with 22 of them less than 25 years old. Over the past 44 years, 24 orcas have injured or killed their trainers. Four people have been killed as a result of their public display - zero people have been killed by orcas in the wild.

"Public display of orcas only serves SeaWorld's corporate need to profit from dangerous and unnatural stunts. It provides no meaningful education about protecting orcas in the wild and their natural habitats," said IDA President Scotlund Haisley. "As NMFS deliberates changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), new regulations must stop all captive breeding and public display of this species."

As the largest species in the dolphin family, orcas can reach 28-32 feet in length. At marine parks like SeaWorld, the Miami Seaquarium and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, they live in tiny, concrete, chlorinated tanks where they barely have enough room to swim a few strokes in any one direction. They use echolocation (sonar) to hunt, communicate and navigate through the ocean. In captivity their sound waves bounce off the walls of their tanks, which must be psychological torture to them.

ORLANDO - FEBRUARY 24: The sign at the entrance to SeaWorld February 24, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. A female trainer who presumably slipped and fell in to a holding tank was fatally injured after she was attacked by an orca. This is the third human death associated with the killer whale according to the Humane Society of the United States. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

In permit applications, to comply with federal law, marine parks must emphasize "education," claiming the display of captive marine mammals will enhance those efforts. "It is time the U.S. elevate its marine conservation ethic and stop exploiting orcas and other marine mammals in captivity for profit," added Haisley. "SeaWorld should focus their resources on rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured animals rather than forcing orcas and other marine mammals to perform dangerous and unnatural circus-style tricks for food."

June 10 is the deadline for public comments to the NMFS regarding revisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regulations. IDA has urged the public to contact NMFS to phase out marine parks and, until then, create stricter regulations and oversight for facilities with public display permits, and prohibit any further captive breeding or captures of marine mammals from the wild.

For more information and a link to submit public comments, please visit www.idausa.org.

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals' rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

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