Tour operators selling tickets to dolphinaria have been targeted lately by a number of individuals and organisations, including Orca Aware's campaign manager Sam Lipman (find out more), the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and the Whale and Dolphin Protection Forum (WDSF).
These organisations, including our own, agree that orcas are not suited to a life in captivity. They are too large, sentient, self-aware and intelligent. In captivity, orcas are kept in small, concrete tanks that do not resemble the natural ocean environment in any way and the artificial groupings they are kept in are rarely compatible. Orcas are one of the last animals still forced to perform tricks in public shows for human entertainment.
This controversial issue that has been rife in the media, particularly since the release of the documentary Blackfish, does not seem to have reached Magic 105.4 FM radio in the UK. They have partnered with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Cosmos Holidays, offering listeners the chance to win a 7-night holiday in Orlando for a family of four. The package includes flights, accommodation, car hire... and tickets to the SeaWorld parks. (We can't help but notice that SeaWorld are having to give their tickets away lately).
To win the competition, Magic FM are asking the multiple choice question 'What is the name of the new attraction opening in Spring at Busch Gardens?' This seems symbolic of the lack of a good education programme offered by the entertainment park franchise.
No orcas or other dolphins have been kept in captivity in the UK since 1991, when the Department of Environment (DOE) reviewed standards and conditions of captive facilities and deemed them inadequate. So it is questionable that a UK radio station is partnering with a company that does not meet UK welfare standards for keeping these animals in captive conditions. To this day, no tank in the world, including SeaWorld tanks, meets the size requirements set out by the DOE. And no tank could ever compare to the open ocean.
We have taken the time to write to Magic 105.4 FM, explaining why we think orcas and other dolphins are not suited to captivity and asking them to reconsider their partnership and support of the industry. You can also contact the station to express your concerns. (For some ideas of what you might like to include in a comment to Magic FM, read our orca captivity article).