Captive Orca Survey Says

Above: Captive Wildlife/Orca Poll Results (click for larger image)

So I have to admit that the poll results surprised me because I am used to hearing a lot of vocal protests.

Now keep in mind that this poll is a small sampling that comes from visitors with a variety of backgrounds and professions.

The “No animals should be in captivity” sentiment came in at a mere 16%.

Quite frankly I thought it would be higher based on some of the conversations I’ve been involved in.

Lowest on the poll at 1% was “Captive animals are privately owned so forget it.”

Followed by the 4% that admitted,  “I don’t know enough about what is involved.”

I found this to be an interesting perspective since most people tend to want to throw their opinion into the ring.

So, it is encouraging that people know that they need more information before making a decision on this type of matter.

Now, I threw in an other category so people could add their own voice and 7% tried but were actually commenting on other answers in the survey.

Above: Other category comments (click for larger image)

Because I consider them a bit redundant, I doubt I’ll leave that option in for future surveys.

The next positive spin I found were from the 16% that actually realize that a lot of wild animals have been born in captivity.

This adds a complex problem when it comes to wanting to release animals because they never have been wild ever.

This leaves the top two results were that “Some captive situations are acceptable” (35%) and “Animals in captivity get people to give a darn about the species” (27%).

As for my opinions, I am a veteran captive wildlife person that has both trained these creatures and also worked for the conservation of species–so I find that I fall into the top two categories like most of the people who participated in the survey.


I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering a lot of things surrounding the Tilikum orca incident because my first reaction was that this is going to be a big catalyst for change in that particular segment of the animal industry–at least I hope so.

But also, my hope is that people get beyond their illusions about these creatures.

They are predatory animals–and very large ones at that. Probably the only reason we have not seen more incidents is because of the limited exposure humans have due to the differences in habitat.

Humans live outside of the water, while orcas live within it.

Sounds simple, but when you are a trainer it makes a huge difference because they are acrobats in their element and we are poorly equipped for it.

Plus, in the past I’ve seen trainers escape injury simply because they were on stage and out of reach–even when the whales have come out of the water after them–they lucked out.

Now people have been spouting a lot of inaccurate ideas about orcas.

The thing is that we only really began studying them in the 1970s and they have only been in captive environments for a short time in comparison to many other wild creatures.

When I began my career as a marine naturalist and whale watch guide I was involved in efforts to stop whaling and to help people become educated that whales were mammals and not fish.

Yes, we were still hunting whales here in the USA.

It seems like ages ago–but it wasn’t except to those born more recently than I was. LOL

In my lifetime whales were brought into captivity by fishermen.

Today such efforts cause a big outcry and there are lots of rules and regulations but back then these animals were shot or netted without much of a second thought.

Anyway, my point is that things have changed and people now care AND have the luxury to care or put energy into such matters.

I am going to discuss some of these things and others that I’d like you to consider in the next few posts.

Do you want to chime in on something here? If so, leave a comment below.

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