Kshamenk is one of the most abused orcas in the world. He lives in Mundo Marino, Argentina, without the company of other orcas. He does have the company of dolphins, but that can’t replace the company of his own species. As you can see, he lives in disgustingly small, rounded tanks that don’t allow him to express natural behaviour. The tanks are so small that he can’t swim straight.
Mundo Marino has claimed that they saved Kshamenk and 3 other orcas from being stranded, however, this is not the case. Boats chased him and three others with nets until they were forced to beach themselves as they entered shallow water. This was so they could be captured easily.One was release as it was too big for transport. Another died during transport, and another smashed their head against the wall until it died. Kshamenk was the only one remaining from this brutal capture.
Kshamenk used to live with a female orca called Belen. Their first calf was stillborn, and Belen died during her second pregnancy 15 years ago.Belen was lethargic and unwilling to participate in shows before her death. Kshamenk would never see another orca again after Belen died. He has become incredibly stressed and frustrated without Belen. He is hostile towards trainers and wants nothing to do with them, and he is a danger to the dolphins. He hasn’t made bonds with any of the trainers.
He has shown aggressive behaviour towards the dolphins before, and he has even tried to mate with one of them, a female bottlenose called Floppy. This behaviour is not natural and it’s extremely dangerous to the dolphins. He is a transient orca and he could easily kill a dolphin if he wanted to.
Seaworld has also participated in the abuse of Kshamnek. Trainers from seaworld had traveled to Argentina to train Kshamenk for artificial insemination. Kshamenk has fathered two of SeaWorld’s orcas, Makani and Kamea. Seaworld isn’t helping, they aren’t showing any concerns and by doing trade with Mundo Marino, they’re telling them that they think Kshamenk’s conditions are okay.
Today, Kshamenk is aggressive,sexually frustrated, and uncooperative, as a result of his confinement and isolation from other orcas. The emotional torture this orca has endured has taken it’s toll.
We have to save Kshamenk. He can’t perform any natural behaviours, he is aggressive towards humans and his dolphin companions, and he hasn’t seen another orca for 15 years. He needs our help, or he will die in a tiny, shallow, circular pool, without another orca by his side. No orca should live this way, and we can’t let him die without giving him a happy ending.
Today we mourn the loss of a great actor and a wonderful person.
Robin Williams wasn’t only a terrific actor and comedian, he was also a voice for the voiceless. He was featured in the “My Friend” PSA that discussed the plight of captive dolphins and the Taiji slaughter. He is also in the 1994 show “In The Wild With Robin Willams—Dolphins” where he examines the communication and intelligence of dolphins (He does visit a captive facility in the documentary but this was prior to The Cove and the PSA; one can only assume he was unaware of captivity’s pitfalls during this time)
More recently, he represented Orca Network and the Free Lolita movement in the BiLLe Celebrity Challenge; he won, and Orca Network received €25,000.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams. The world is a little less bright without you.
You’re against fur but not meat? Captivity but not artificial insemination? Hunting but not cutting off tails/ears etc?? Get out of my face. Like you’re only against those things because it takes no effort for you to avoid them.
Exclusive: Three Former Employees Reveal The Shocking Realities Of SeaWorld’s Dolphin Feeding Pools
Krissy Dodge: We weren’t allowed to give guests the animals’ names because if one died they don’t want any guests asking any questions. We were told if a guest asks you about a specific animal that died the joke was “tell them they went to Ohio [where SeaWorld used to have a park].” We said the animals are happy here. They get the best fish. The whole thing. We would say the life expectancy here is a lot longer than it is in the wild.
Cynthia Payne: What I remember most about the dolphin pools was that there was nowhere for those animals to go to get away from one another. The center island [of the original SeaWorld Florida dolphin feeding pool; now the nursery pool] took about 30 percent of the pool, so it wasn’t much larger than a swimming pool and there was nowhere for those animals to go. And every single person would have their hands on them and try to pet them on their blowholes. My spiel was “Please stop reaching for their blowholes.” The dolphins would hate it. There was no peace for any of those animals anywhere. The majority of their feed came from these feeder booths [where guests would pay for a plate of fish to feed the dolphins that came up to them]. A lot of their food came from the public. What a completely stressful situation. The only way to get fed is to let strangers touch you left and right.
Krissy Dodge: The night before a big event or a big park day, such as the 4th of July, they would say ‘don’t give [the dolphins] as much food because tomorrow we want them to be hungry and we want them to eat from the guests.’ People didn’t realize that they shouldn’t hold the tray [of fish] over the water. One of the dolphins while I was there figured out that if the kids held out the tray he could take the whole tray instead of just getting one fish. So within a matter of minutes all the other dolphins learned the same thing. They would go up to the guests and grab the whole tray right out of their hand. During this time one of the dolphins grabbed onto a child’s hand, and raked [i.e. gouged the skin with its teeth] the whole hand. I was the one that had to talk to the parents and go to management.
In the end the parents were soothed. They were given free park passes. They had one of the Animal Care staff get inside the wall and walk around [the pool] to tell people over and over and over not to put the tray over the pool. For the dolphins it was something new in their environment that we were walking along the pool ledge. They would come up to us and bite our ankles and grab onto our ankles. It hurt, but we weren’t allowed to show any reaction because then the dolphins would get a kick out of it and keep doing it. We’d have guests ask, ‘Does that hurt?’ and we’d say ‘Oh no, it’s not bad at all. They are just playing.’ When really, it hurt pretty bad. Enough to let you know, ‘I could really hurt you if I wanted.’
Taking care of a large group of often untrained dolphins presented some interesting Animal Care issues. The need to take regular blood samples, and to weigh the dolphins, among other routine husbandry practices, was particularly challenging.
Jim Horton: [Before Key West] SeaWorld had a smaller feeding pool. It was a long oval pool with a big island in middle. We had to go in there twice a year and catch every dolphin. And do a physical. The physicals were hard. We would basically drain the pool, about knee deep. [It had] somewhere around 20 dolphins. And we’d have a net or a couple of nets and we would single [the dolphins] out one by one and jump on them. The dolphins never went after us. Some would put up a fight, some wouldn’t. It was very random, but you knew who would struggle and who wouldn’t … usually. This was based on age, sex and personality. Some didn’t care, to some it was a game, some were unaccustomed to it. Two to four-year olds would always thrash around requiring at least four people to restrain, Older males and females were mellow, even Ralph [a more aggressive male dolphin]. But for human safety, there was a minimum of 4 to 6 guys required to hold the animals stable, and a few animals required as many people as possible. The standard was 2 guys at the head, 2 at the dorsal and 2 on the tail, one guy driving the crane [suspending the stretcher], one guy directing the crane and 2 guys to spread the stretcher from each end.
A highly fractious animal would require us to lock our bodies together with additional staff. Sometimes, we did not have enough people and just did the best we could with what we had. There was always a vet or two on hand and a supervisor calling the shots, but we became a well-oiled machine over time and just a look in your eye to your team and we all knew when we were going to make our move. We got very good at what we were doing and we protected each other and prevented the animals from hurting themselves as well. We knew how certain ones liked to be held. Some animals, it appeared as if it were a game, just to see if they could throw us off, testing their testosterone, usually teenage males. We knew if the animal did throw us off, then he would repeat the attempt in the future, possibly causing injury to us or them, a learned behavior. The ones who were capable of doing it and had a history of getting away from us were the toughest. Some would wait until they felt the team relax just a little bit and then bust loose, sending bodies flying. But this rarely happened as we honed our skills. Occasionally we’d have to get a young calf whose Mom was still in the pool. Mom would do anything trying to get the calf away from us. I broke my nose once on [the vet’s] head. I had the calf. He was trying to stop the female from getting to me, and she whacked him. And he went flying and his head went right into my face and knocked me practically unconscious.
We did not mess with calves until they were one year old. But when we did at that age of one year and up, the little ones really put up a good fight as this was something new. So that generally took two to three guys. But then the mothers would come after us in attempts to dislodge the calf. A coordinated effort was required to grab both mother and calf at the same time and hold them very close together, face to face. We would handle only one animal at a time, unless it was a mom and calf. So it was always a battle in that pool and those animals weren’t really trained to do much. They did very little. This physical was only done twice a year, on a schedule. It was important to have baseline data (blood values) on each animal to determine possible infection if the animal was acting sick. Animals were also weighed in the stretcher to be certain that they were gaining or maintaining weight. Generally, it took about 12 staff minimum on these days, starting at first light. All of the animals were fed lots of food afterwards. By 10 a.m. and the first public feeding, you would never know that this had transpired based on the animals’ behavior. The weights varied from 100 to 700 pounds. Each weight was guessed by us, as the scale was calculating and we got very good at weight judgment. This became a very efficient tool when having to guess the medication dosage for a sick [wild] animal in the field where knowing the weight was very important to the veterinarian.
Krissy Dodge: [At SeaWorld Texas] every six months they would do what they called a ‘dolphin rodeo.’ Those animals weren’t highly trained. Basically their job was to take fish from people, so they didn’t understand all the husbandry [behaviors], like giving a blood sample. So what they would do every six months is lower the water in the pool down to a foot or so. You have all these dolphins on the bottom of the pool and it was kind of a scary thing even though I think they were probably used to it. But they didn’t like it. And they would sort of flounder and start to panic. and it was our job to basically wrestle them and grab them. So one person was in charge of jumping on the animal, and the other was in charge of coming and grabbing the other side so that they are kind of restrained. And at that point they would be led over to a stretcher which was lowered down into the bottom of the pool. Once the animal was in the stretcher it would usually calm right down. But trying to get them to that point was just a crazy thing. I was thinking, ‘Is this really happening?’
The Dolphin Rodeo was not the only challenge in managing Seaworld’s dolphin feeding pools. The feeding pools attract casual visitors as well as dedicated dolphin fans, who come out day after day and get to know all the dolphins. But not all guests behave well, which can makes Animal Care’s work around the dolphin pools difficult.
Jim Horton: We had groupies that would come out to that pool and they would be there all day. A handful of them. And the animals, after a while, would just flock to them because they recognize them, and they didn’t even need food. One of them we had to expel because he was fingering the female dolphins. And then licking his fingers. And the females were digging it. The groupies were a problem.
[Note: Other sources have told me about this same problem, how some of the dolphins would recognize groupies who liked to touch them sexually and swim up and roll over in anticipation of what was to come, and how difficult it was for Animal Care staff to detect and police this sort of guest behavior because much of it took place under the water and there was an understandable fear of falsely accusing a guest. SeaWorld was also contacted about this allegation, but they haven’t responded. ]
It was also impossible to keep the pools clear of objects, which the dolphins often ingested.
Jim Horton: People were throwing coins in the pools all the time. Idiots. We had one young one year old [dolphin] that turned white. And we thought it was some kind of genetic mutation. The animal died during the day. So we pulled him out and put him on a cart, spraying him with water and rubbing him down so it looked like he was still alive while we were going through park. What we found out was that the white dolphin had a stomach full of coins and rings and jewelry. Everything was perfectly shiny except the pennies. They were the only things that were dissolving.
After 1982, I think, they started making pennies out of zinc and coating them in copper. So it was zinc poisoning. The zinc killed the dolphin. We had another dolphin in there, a young calf, that ate four coffee cans of coins and jewelry. It took six months to get all the coins out of her stomach. There was really a unique invention by Dr. Walsh [a vet]. He was really brilliant. And what he did was he used an endoscope and he ran two plastic tubes along the length of the scope — hard plastic — and at the very end was a little net made out of panty hose. So we’d put a piece of PVC pipe, padded and foamed, inside the dolphins mouth, and he’d put the endoscope in, all the way into the stomach, and behind the pile of coins. [He’d] push on the plastic tubing and manipulate it so the net would extend and scoop. Then we’d retract it and pull the tube all the way out.
We’d do that for about an hour every few days until we finally cleaned that animal out. [It came to] $30-plus, and four completely full coffee cans. The animal’s stomach was completely full of coins. And sharp, pointy stuff, like name tags or brooches. How it did not perforate I have no idea. So then we used that technique on some of the other animals and basically cleaned them all out. They did a spiel before every feeding. Please do not drop anything. There were signs everywhere, but people would still do it. You’d go over to the alligator exhibit and you’d see the alligators cruising around with coins on their backs. People are idiots. It was also a problem with the walruses. We had to wrestle quite a few walruses, because they were impacted. You’d throw the net over them and you’re just hanging on and they are throwing you everywhere. I was part of several walrus surgeries. Baby pacifiers were big. There would be a wad of baby pacifiers and a bunch of paint chips from the pool, and stuff like that blocking the intestine.
After being shackled and abused for 50 years, Raju, an Asian elephant found in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, took his first steps of freedom in the early hours of July 4. And in response, he shed tears of joy.
"Raju was in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty. The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue," Pooja Binepal, a spokeswoman for rescue organization Wildlife SOS, told the Mirror.
Bingo was a captured, Icelandic orca. He is thought to have been 30-32 years old. Though he lived to the average life span of wild orcas (30-50), he never really lived, did he? He just existed in a tiny enclosure for three decades.
He died last night from a lung ailment. He had been sick since May but little was known about his condition or progress.
Rest in peace Bingo. You are finally free from your suffering.
Ever think about how small these tanks really are? Of course not. SeaWorld is making you believe that these tanks beat the ocean. They are much happier here, they will tell you. Heck, their stadium is bigger than their biggest tank. What does that tell you? Caring? No. Educational? Not a darn bit. These animals deserve better. Not these small concrete teacups. These animals belong in the ocean. Pass it on.
Do you visit circuses that use animals, do you give money to these awful gimmicky animal tourist attractions, do you watch videos of elephants painting and monkeys riding bikes etc… And laugh? Is this entertainment to you? Because it’s no fun for the animals that are used. Please next time you come across any animals used in entertainment, think about this image. Think about all the things that happen to these very same animals behind the scenes. Is it natural behavior for a monkey to ride a bike or an elephant to paint? Is it natural behaviour for elephants and horses to be dancing in shows with huge noisy crowds? Is this what we are going to reduced these beautiful wild creatures to? Our entertainment?