SeaWorld's Sexual Abuse of Animals Exposed
PETA worked hard to end SeaWorld’s wretched orca-breeding program. But our work is far from over.
Faced with plunging stock prices, soured public relations as a result of the acclaimed documentary Blackfish, and impending state and federal legislation, SeaWorld was forced to stop breeding orcas.
The 2016 decision should have ended SeaWorld’s practice of sexually abusing animals for profit. Yet to this day, other dolphins and beluga whales at the parks are still forcibly inseminated. One dolphin, Spark, was born at SeaWorld Orlando at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, condemned to live deprived of mental stimulation and without purpose. Then, last fall, dolphin Bree gave birth—like Spark, this baby is doomed to a life of deprivation, likely being shipped from place to place, and possible forcible insemination.
On July 25, SeaWorld San Antonio announced that Luna, a beluga whale the park has exploited as a breeding machine, gave birth for the fourth time. And in August, SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove announced that a baby dolphin named Moby was born—along with the park’s plans to exploit him.
Baby dolphin Moby, pictured above, is the newest dolphin prisoner confined to SeaWorld-owned concrete tanks. He may suffer inside cramped tanks for decades to come, just like his dad Starbuck, who has been imprisoned at SeaWorld and other abusement parks for more than 40 years.
In nature, belugas and bottlenose dolphins maintain dynamic relationships with large social networks, choose their own mates, and swim freely in the ocean. But at SeaWorld, they’re used as breeding machines to create generation after generation of animals who are also imprisoned for life in small concrete tanks.
Drugged, Dragged Out of the Water, and Raped
Male bottlenose dolphins are masturbated, and females are torn out of the water and sometimes drugged so they can’t fight back while staff shove tubes filled with semen into their uteruses.
According to this SeaWorld study, “If cryopreserved semen was unavailable, fresh semen was collected 3 to 4 [hours] prior to the insemination” of bottlenose dolphins. SeaWorld staff noted that “females were pre-medicated with diazepam.” The animals were removed from the water and placed in foam cells. Inseminations were performed with a variety of endoscopes up to eight feet long for the procedure, which were forced into the vaginas of the sedated dolphins. A modified bullet-tipped catheter was placed in the working channel of the endoscope and used as a stylet to direct the endoscope into the cervix. Can you imagine how confused and terrified the animals subjected to forcible insemination at SeaWorld must be?
In another study, scientists at SeaWorld describe how they coaxed male bottlenose dolphins to provide semen. Handlers stimulated the animals into exposing their penises and gave them an erection. SeaWorld staffers then made the dolphins ejaculate by hand. This process is repeated over and over again until handlers feel that they’ve collected enough semen samples.
Everything about these traumatizing practices goes against the natural breeding habits of whales and dolphins. Yet these appalling acts of abuse are the backbone of SeaWorld’s breeding program.
SeaWorld Enslaves and Breeds Ocean Animals for Profit, and Dead Bodies Pile Up
Martha was abducted from her ocean home in 1988 near Manitoba, Canada, where wild belugas travel into Hudson Bay and river estuaries to give birth. She was then shipped to the SeaWorld San Antonio abusement park, where she’s been repeatedly impregnated.
She has given birth to five calves. All but one are now dead. SeaWorld tore the lone survivor away from Martha and began shipping the baby to multiple parks around the country to be exploited for entertainment.
When given the chance, beluga calves remain with their mothers for years. They develop a strong bond and receive nurturing care, which is essential for their survival. Imagine Martha’s suffering and grief as her babies were taken from her.
For over 20 years, handlers have treated Ariel—a bottlenose dolphin currently imprisoned at SeaWorld Orlando—like a breeding machine. She was only 7 or 8 years old when she was forced to give birth to her first calf, who died shortly afterward.
Since then, handlers have repeatedly forcibly inseminated Ariel. Her calves have been shipped hundreds of miles in traumatizing journeys to various aquariums and SeaWorld-operated concrete prisons. Her heartbreaking story includes years of inbreeding and dead offspring—all in breeding programs that we must end.
—Take Action Now—
“[T]he data and trends showed it was either a SeaWorld without whales or a world without SeaWorld.”
—Former SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby
SeaWorld knows that its remaining customers come for the new rides, concerts, and other forms of amusement that don’t harm animals. In February 2020—after a months-long PETA campaign—SeaWorld was forced to stop allowing trainers to stand on dolphins’ faces and ride on their backs in cruel circus-style shows.
SeaWorld can take the opportunity to reinvent itself, or it can sink along with other animal-exploiting businesses that have refused to get with the times.
Please urge the CEO of SeaWorld, Marc Swanson, to establish a firm and rapid plan to end its use of animals, stop breeding all dolphins and whales, and relocate them to seaside sanctuaries.
Please keep all correspondence polite in order to encourage officials at the company to listen to our message and take it seriously.
Please send a message to:
Marc Swanson, CEO