Peer-reviewed study concludes SeaWorld whales live as long as wild counterparts

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

A peer-reviewed study, which appears in the July edition of the Journal of Mammalogy, concluded that the life expectancy of a SeaWorld killer whale is 41.6 years, compared to 29 years for killer whales in a southern community of the waters of the Pacific Northwest and 42.3 for whales in a northern community.

Read more from The LA Times.

slithernoggin's avatar

I will not have science and facts be introduced to this discussion! :-)

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

ApolloAndy's avatar

Sea World must have sent one of their staff to be a mole in this study.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Carousel Rabbit's avatar

Captive animals often live longer than wild animals for obvious reasons. The fact that they have only the same lifespan isn't exactly a blazing endorsement.

A more important point is that length of life says little about quality of life, as much as they might like you to conflate the two.

Last edited by Carousel Rabbit,
Jeff's avatar

It isn't intended to be an endorsement, it's intended to be a fact-based response to the nonsense that PETA puts out there.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

rollergator's avatar

I'd also suggest that many animals "in the wild," even in the vast expanse of the oceans, are no longer in the same environments they were a century or two ago. Many marine animals that once grew much bigger, and in bigger numbers, are not found in the sizes or quantities they once were. A large reason is human fishing, whaling, etc., but to some unknown (unknowable?) degree, the habitat under the water has been changed. May not be to the extent of habitat loss on terra firma, but it's definitely different....and those changes have impacted life-span in the wild.

The best answer for almost all other species is pretty clear - get rid of the pesky humans!

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

LostKause's avatar

Most animals that I see in captivity are really content with their lives. They have it made. Sea Worlds and zoos always give their animals things to play with, freshly prepared food by a chef, friends to hang out with. I don't see anything wrong with it at all. All their needs are tended to.

Sure there may be some exceptions to that, but that's so rare that I only see it in the news, and the culprits are shamed for it.

Raven-Phile's avatar

I have quite a few friends who are involved with Zoo work, and it's true. They love those animals like no one else can.

Jeff's avatar

A former coworker of mine messaged me on Facebook a few weeks ago and basically suggested that just because I worked for SeaWorld Parks that I was a horrible person. He was totally serious. In his mind, it's morally reprehensible to keep animals for display. I can't understand people who think like that, because they've drawn a very thick line in the sand in a somewhat arbitrary way. They often still eat meat and have pets, too. There's a classic argument that conservation and education are at odds with capitalism as well, which I've never understood. SeaWorld has saved and cared for more rescue animals on both coasts than anyone, and I dare anyone to make a compelling argument that people would care about whales of any kind, at all, were it not for SeaWorld.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Raven-Phile's avatar

My favorite response I've seen from anyone regarding this was a friend of mine who said "everyone thinks they're an activist, but if Orcas gave us bacon, you wouldn't care how cute they were or how much they suffered" [paraphrasing]

It's entirely true, and I still maintain that without SeaWorld's contributions, our awareness about marine life would be significantly less.

Carrie J.'s avatar

Jeff said:

I can't understand people who think like that, because they've drawn a very thick line in the sand in a somewhat arbitrary way. They often still eat meat and have pets, too.

My labrador asks to be freed at least four times a day... and he's black... and his name is Caesar... it's all so sad.

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

Raven-Phile's avatar

So, your dog is black, you say? What color is his family?

LostKause's avatar

As for Sea World, I recall the Orlando park causing me to care a little bit more about animals. I cried a little bit during the Manatee exhibit, and totally fell in love with the sea lions. I don't know if it's marketing, or what, but they really seem to respect and love their animals. There is a chance I am being nieve about it, but I don't think so.

Jeff's avatar

The front line people who care for the animals are legit. That isn't naive.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Raven-Phile's avatar

It's honestly really easy to tell. There's something about the way the caretakers/trainers and the animals interact that shows there is a bond there.

A few years ago, I witnessed something similar at Cedar Point, of all places. I never knew the kind of care those petting zoo animals received until a rainy day when they were all inside the barn, but the door was open for people to visit. I talked with one of the girls working in there, and she was telling me about how much time they spend with the animals and when she went in the pen with the baby cow - it came over to her like a dog comes up to its master and started wrestling with her. It was really cute, and amazing to see that other animals are capable of interactions like that.

eightdotthree's avatar

+1000 on the meat eating arm chair animal rights activists.

slithernoggin's avatar

For me, SeaWorld -- and zoos, and other such places where people can interact with animals -- are, on balance, doing good. The animals have their needs attended to and social interaction with other animals and other species (us, in other words).

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

So who wasted the money on this study? Don't we know that all the facts were sorted out by Facebook and CNN?

slithernoggin's avatar

American Society of Mammalogists and Oxford Unversity Press... pshaw. Like they're more reliable than Facebook.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Carousel Rabbit said:

A more important point is that length of life says little about quality of life, as much as they might like you to conflate the two.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with this.

Let me point out that I have no problem with Sea World, their keeping of animals or anything they do. Hell, kick the fish in the face if you want, I sincerely don't give a rat's ass.

But the idea that this validates anything other than lifespan in captive settings, is silly.

I mean, I'm sure someone could keep me in a way to increase (or meet) the lifespan I'll achieve on my own (given my choices, I can practically guarantee it), but it doesn't mean I'll have a good (or better) life.

I suppose what constitues a 'good' life is subjective and a little philosphical - but I'm pretty sure it's worst measured by the number of years it lasts.

And hell, if I were the kind to stir the pot and play devil's advocate, I suppose I could argue that the whales living longer in captivity could be considered more abusive given the conditions - assuming they were considered poor for whatever reason...but I'm not the kind of guy to argue for the fun of the conversation. :)

I mean we can keep high fiving each other on the back and proclaiming 'Science!' while smirking, but did we really need a study to know that PETA is full of **** on their facts?

The reason this conversation will be never ending is because the source of conflict is an intangible - happiness and well being of an animal. Neither side will ever be right...

...until Shamu develops speech and lets us know that he's quite content.

But the problem is that if whales are anything like humans, what makes one happy and content doesn't work for another. So Kiko, or whatever the **** stupid name another one has, would just bitch all day about his surroundings and ruin it for the others.

Stupid whales.

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