Being the apex predator in the oceans, very intelligent a groupie by nature -it lives in pods, to be forced to live in a tank in isolation and only let out for training, shows and mating goes against its very nature. This is the life of Tilikum the oldest a 30-year-old, 6-ton male orca that has fathered the most offspring.
Many orcas get sick in captivity. Dorsal fin collapse seen in 60–90% of captive males. This male (Tilikum), at SeaWorld Orlando, Florida has a collapsed dorsal fin. Most male captive killer whales, and some females, have a dorsal fin that is partially or completely collapsed to one side. This is caused by a collapse of the collagen structure in the fin. Collagen is the strong flexible structure that gives our nose its shape. Some orcas in the wild have the same problem just less frequently.
The captive environment usually bears little resemblance to their wild habitat. Captive life is stressful due to small tanks, false social groupings, increases disease potential, isolation and chemically altered water. To relieve their stress, captive killer whales may get aggressive toward themselves, other killer whales, or humans. Captive orcas often give birth at a much younger age than in the wild, and the young mothers may have difficulty raising their offspring, because they have no models to learn from. Thus calves born to these mothers have a relatively low survival rate.
Even though the orcas are feed enough food, it lacks the quality of live in the ocean surrounded and caught by the pod. Their diet in the wild varies depending on what is available, and may include fish, walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, squid, sea turtles, sharks and whales.
Considering man cannot duplicate the natural habitat of these predators, we should leave them in the ocean and try to rewild those that came from the ocean and not bring any more into these artificial environments. This is not a guarantee that these domesticated animals can succeed in the ocean. Remember flipper his rewilding was a failure, because he never learned how to hunt or dive deep enough to survive and was never accepted into a pod.
Never forget these are wild animals that deserve a home big enough and healthy enough to support their longevity. Leave orcas in the ocean.
Excerpts courtesy of http://theboxhouston.com/brandigarcia/killer-whale
Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captive_orcas
Excerpts courtesy of http://news.discovery.com/killer-whale-attack-explanation.html
Image courtesy of http://myanimalblog.files.wordpress.com/orca.jpg