The 2013 documentary "Blackfish" shined a light on the cruelty that orcas face in captivity and created a sea change in the public's perception of SeaWorld and other marine life parks.
This "Blackfish" backlash nearly deep-sixed SeaWorld and led Canada to pass a law that bans oceanariums from breeding whales and dolphins or holding them in captivity. Animals currently being held in Canada's marine parks are allowed to remain as well as those taken in for rehabilitation.
Podcaster and MMA announcer Joe Rogan saluted Canada's decision on a recent episode.
"First of all, what assholes are we that we have those goddman things in captivity? A big fucking shout out to Canada because Canada, mostly probably through the noise that my friend Phil Demers has created in trying to get MarineLand shut down, Canada has banned all dolphin and all whale captivity. It's amazing. I hope the United States does it well, I hope it goes worldwide," Rogan told his guest, economist and mathematician Eric Weinstein.
Rogan has been a big anti-captivity advocate and frequently has Phil Demers, a former walrus trainer at MarineLand in Canada, on his show to discuss animal abuses at marine parks.
"I think it's slavery, I really do," Rogan said of whale captivity. "I think it's a different kind of slavery."
While some may be taken aback by Rogan's use of the term "slavery" to describe non-humans, he makes a compelling point. There is a long history of research on dolphins that shows they rival humans, intelligence-wise. As for orcas, "If anything, since orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family, their intelligence is perhaps superior to other dolphins," Lori Marino, a Emory University neuroscientist, told NBC News.
And, like slaves, they are held captive and forced to work for someone making a considerable profit.
Two orcas that have been enslaved the longest are Lolita and Corky, both in captivity for around 50 years.
Lolita is a female orca at Miami Seaquarium who lives in a tank so pitifully small, it would now be deemed illegal. She's been held in captivity since 1970 when she shared the tank with Hugo, a male orca. Hugo died in 1980 in an apparent suicide after bashing his head against the walls of the tank.
It's save the vaquita week. What you should know about the world's most adorable and endangered porpoise.
via Piotr Domanradski / Wikimedia Commons Hugo's carcass being removed from the tank in 1980.
Corky was first captured and put on display at Marineland in California in 1969. Shortly before that park's closure in 1987, she was sold to SeaWorld and has lived there ever since.
Throughout her time in confinement, Corky gave birth to six calves, all sired by her cousin and tankmate, Orky. None of them survived. Orky died in 1988.
The Great Whales - Corky's First Calf www.youtube.com
Rogan hopes the U.S. will wise up and put an end to whale and dolphin captivity, but will it ever happen?
In 2016, the state of California banned orca shows for entertainment purposes and breeding of captive orcas. Since, SeaWorld San Diego's shows have become more educational in nature.
In 2015, California Congressman Adam Schiff proposed legislation that would prohibit breeding of captive orcas and prevent wild capture for the purpose of display. The act would ultimately phase out all orca captivity in the U.S. but has not seen much movement through Congress since its introduction.
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