Corky's Life in Captivity

In 1969 off the coast of British Columbia, a pod of orcas was attacked by humans in boats. Calves were forcibly and violently separated from their mothers—a bond that many wild orcas share for life—and sold into captivity. One of the young orcas taken that day was Corky.

This is her story.


Today, Corky is locked inside one of SeaWorld’s tiny tanks, swimming in endless circles. Her siblings and other members of her pod still swim freely in the ocean, but the only life that Corky knows is one of deprivation, suffering, and loss.

On this page, you can learn more about Corky and then join the hundreds of thousands of people calling on SeaWorld to release the long-suffering orcas it holds captive into coastal sanctuaries, where they can experience some semblance of the natural lives that they’ve been denied for so long.

It’s time for change.

A Mother's Heartbreak:

Corky's Tragic Role in Orca-Breeding Programs

From 1977 to 1986, Corky was inseminated time and time again, six times by her own cousin. Once grown, her babies would have been forced to live out their lives in captivity like their mother. But Corky’s longest surviving calf lived for only 47 days. Her last pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Her dead baby was found at the bottom of a tank.

Possibly missing her own calves, Corky spent a lot of time close to a young female orca named Orkid when they shared a tank at SeaWorld. But this may have led to jealousy. Orkid’s mother, Kandu, attacked Corky. Forcefully charging Corky, Kandu broke her own jaw, severing arteries in her head. It took 45 minutes for Kandu to die as her calf watched.

From the minute she was taken from the ocean, Corky’s life has been full of confusion, pain, and death. Had any of her own calves survived, it’s likely they would have been taken from her anyhow—shipped elsewhere to sell tickets and breed more orcas. Marine parks like SeaWorld routinely separate mothers from their babies at will, as if they were merely money-making objects.


VIDEO: Learn More About Orkid

Read More: SeaWorld’s History of Separating Mothers From Their Calves

Hope for the Future:

Bringing Corky Home


Not every member of Corky’s pod was captured along with her. Other orcas from her pod, including her mother, were left in the ocean off the coast of British Columbia, where her siblings still visit to this day.

It’s there that a team of experts has identified an area to build a coastal sanctuary so that Corky and other captive orcas can finally return home to the ocean waters where they belong.


If released to a sanctuary in these waters, Corky could actually have an opportunity to communicate with her own biological siblings, who traveled with their mother until she passed—an opportunity stolen from Corky.

Here, she could feel flowing currents, dive deep into the water, and possibly even reunite with her family.
But for that to happen, SeaWorld needs to act.


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Take Action Now!

Urge SeaWorld to Send Corky to a Seaside Sanctuary

While SeaWorld has ended its orca-breeding program, the company must empty its tanks and release these long-suffering animals into ocean sanctuaries, where they can have some semblance of a natural life.

In the wild, cetaceans have been documented swimming up to 100 miles a day in the open ocean, but captive orcas are confined to small tanks in which the reverberations from their sonar bounce off the walls, driving some of them insane. Some of these animals, like Corky, were violently captured and torn away from their homes in the wild, and many are forced to learn and perform circus-style tricks. According to whistleblower tips from trainers, withholding food from animals who refuse to perform is a common training method, and because of the intense frustration caused by captivity, orcas gnaw on the metal gates and concrete corners of the tanks and damage their teeth.



The only thing that people learn from visiting a SeaWorld theme park is how miserable life is for the animals confined there. Marine parks teach all the wrong lessons: that it’s acceptable to imprison animals, to deprive them of freedom of movement and choice, to forbid them the chance to establish their natural territory and explore, to breed and separate them at will, and to watch them go insane from loneliness and frustration.


SeaWorld has taken a step forward, but ending its sordid orca-breeding program does nothing to help animals like Corky who will continue to swim in circles inside tiny tanks for decades until they die. Help Corky today by taking a moment to ask the company to implement a firm and rapid plan to release her to a sea sanctuary where she will be given a semblance of the natural life that she has been denied for so long.

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Free Corky, the Longest-Held Captive Orca in the World

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