Fate of orcas in captivity

The fate of captive orcas

Killer whales, more properly known as orcas, have been kept in captivity since 1961, helpless victims of a blatantly commercial experiment which has seen dozens of wild orcas plucked from their families and forced to live in artificial social groupings which bear scant resemblance to their life in the wild.

As of April 3, 2019 there are:

Orcas held in captivity
were captured in the wild
were born in captivity

At least 156 orcas have been taken into captivity from the wild since 1961 (including Pascuala and Morgan).

  • 129 of these orcas are now dead.
  • In the wild, male orcas live to an average of 30 years (maximum 50-60 years) and 46 years for females (maximum 80-90 years).
  • At least 166 orcas have died in captivity, not including 30 miscarried or still-born calves.
  • SeaWorld holds 20 orcas in its three parks in the United States. At least forty-nine orcas have died at SeaWorld.
  • One of the most infamous capture incidents saw over 80 whales from the Southern Resident population of orcas in Washington State rounded-up at Penn Cove in 1970. Seven were taken into captivity while as many as five whales died. Today this population is recognised as endangered. Only one captured whale, Lolita, is still alive, held at Miami Seaquarium.
  • At least 19 orcas have been taken from the wild into captivity since 2002, most recently in Russia.
  • A further 10 orcas are currently being held in pens along with 87 beluga whales at a facility in Srednyaya Bay in Nakhodka, Russia.

The growing uneasiness with the concept of keeping orcas in captivity has only been increased by the renowned documentary Blackfish, documenting the reality of the captives' existence. Despite the best attempts of the display industry to blow a smokescreen over such negative publicity, the wider world is now increasingly aware that all is not well in fantasy-land. In recent years, first a trickle, then a steady torrent, of incidents have been reported.

A growing catalogue of 'accidents', illnesses, failed pregnancies and premature deaths that have helped to show up this industry for the cruel circus that it really is.

The story of Corky and Fife

The longest surviving orca in captivity is Corky, captured in 1969 from the Northern Resident population that inhabits the waters around Vancouver Island, Canada. She is held at SeaWorld in San Diego. None of her seven offspring in captivity have survived. Her family (known as the A5 pod) continue to thrive in the wild, including Corky's brother, Fife, who you can adopt to help support our work.

20150000 - Fife (A60) 1 - Jared Towers

Orcas held in Marine Parks

At least 70 orcas (killer whales) are held captive in marine parks around the world. Click on the links below to access pdfs which show the full geneaology of the orcas at each of the parks.

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Canada

Only one orca, Kiska, is still held in Canada at Marineland in Ontario.

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Europe and Russia

Marineland, Antibes in France holds four orcas. Loro Parque in Tenerife holds seven and Russia has three on public display. There are still captures taking place in Russian waters.

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North America

SeaWorld holds more orcas than any other marine park. The Miami Seaquarium holds a solitary orca taken from the wild, Tokitae (Lolita).

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South America

Mundo Marino in Buenos Aires, Argentina has just one solitary orca, Kshamenk. He is used in breeding programmes with other parks overseas.

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Japan

Japan is becoming an important part of the cetacean captivity industry. Not only as a source of creatures from the dolphin hunts, but also as a recipient for wild-caught orca. There are currently two Japanese facilities, Kamogawa and Nagoya, keeping a total of seven orcas, one of them was wild-caught.

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China

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom holds nine orcas, Shanghai Haichang Polar Ocean World another four and two more individuals are at Wuxi Changqaio Ocean Kingdom. They were all caught in Russian waters between 2013 and 2016.

Who are the orcas held in captivity?

The current list of orcas in captivity, when they were captured or born, and where they are currently held.

Download as PDF

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