This is not about the domestic cat but it is about animals. Our relationship with animals is indirectly about cats so I hope people will be patient with me.
We have all heard about captive killer whales entertaining people. The best-known organization is SeaWorld in San Antonio in Texas, San Diego in California and Orlando in Florida.
Killer whales at these facilities die at a very young age; much shorter than the average lifespan in the wild. Most die in their teens or perhaps in their twenties at best.
Wild killer whales (orcas) normally live between 50 and 60 years and some even attain the age of 100 years.
Research published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal states:
“Survival to age milestones is remarkably poorer for captive killer whales than for wild whales.”
The researchers looked at the history of 201 killer whales in captivity. Of these, 48 were still alive at the start of 2015. They found that many of them died shortly after being captured. This has been linked to stress and travelling long distances to the facility.
On average, killer whales survived for a mere six years after overcoming the initial ordeals. After 19 years of being captive 75% of them were dead. Amongst wild female killer whales, 75% attained the age of 40.
One reason why male killer whales die so quickly is that they live in female dominated family groups. The males stay with their mothers throughout their life so when, for example, there is an inter-park transfer of a mother leaving her son behind, the male is liable to die shortly thereafter.
For killer whales, being captive impacts the males more than the females.
Mr Rob Lott of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said:
“These are the largest animals kept in captivity and they are too big, too smart and too powerful to be kept in tanks.”
On reading about the research I was shocked at how truncated the lives of, especially, male killer whales are due to being captive.
A lot of us have heard about orcas attacking their handlers due to stress and other emotional issues. The attacks may be deliberate for all we know. Four people have been killed when performing killer whales turned on them. I recall reading about one who dragged a woman handler under the water by her hair and kept her down until she drowned. She was scalped.
Captive wild cats do badly in captivity. They are stressed. They breed badly. This creates pressure on the zoos to find fresh animals. There is also a tendency to inbreed because of the small gene pool. It also puts pressure on acquiring fresh animals from the wild which runs counter to proper conservation. Zoos have very little to do with conservation and much more to do with entertainment.
SeaWorld may profess to be involved in conservation but that has to be promotional bunkum.
I hope people think about the captive wild orcas in what must be minuscule areas of water compared to what they are used to in the wild and how they feel, and how they feel stressed and desperate which ultimately leads to their early demise, all for the sake of human entertainment.