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26 Things You Should Know About SeaWorld

Updated September 20, 2019 337.8k views26 items

Few topics are touchier these days than SeaWorld. It seems every few weeks the marine amusement park is in the news for yet another violation of animal rights, or a new controversy. Unfortunately, there is a lot of basis to these claims, and SeaWorld criticism is often justified. These behind the scenes facts and SeaWorld secrets are just some of the things the corporation doesn't want you to know (along with a few interesting facts that are less controversial, but will still peak your interest.

It’s a known fact, despite what SeaWorld wants patrons and the public to believe, that orcas do not do well in captivity, and nowhere was that idea better illustrated than in the documentary Blackfish, which focused on the fatal accident involving SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau and the orca Tilikum. But what additional secrets doesn’t SeaWorld want us to know? What do orcas eat in captivity? How long do orcas usually live in the wild? What does a floppy dorsal fin mean? How do the powers that be breed orcas in captivity? 

These questions and more are answered below, and we warn you – the information we’ve gathered is not always easy to hear. Upvote the SeaWorld facts you think everyone should know and let us know what you think of SeaWorld in the comments section.

  • Captive Orcas Are Trained Not to Focus On Food

    Photo: Rich Jacques / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    When orcas are in captivity, their trainers condition them to not care about food  – they instead get fully fed by the end of the day regardless of any behavior issues.

  • Unfair Hiring Practices?

    Photo: woolennium / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    If you ever attended a SeaWorld show, how many trainers were people of color? US Department of Labor investigated SeaWorld over concerns of unfair hiring practices. It has been alleged more than 1,000 African American and Hispanic applicants have been turned down for employment. 

  • Don’t Be Fooled By The Dolphins Either

    Photo: nataliej / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Despite their image as friendly ocean dwellers, dolphins in SeaWorld’s feed/touch tanks have been known to lash out against visitors.  In 2012, an eight-year-old girl sustained bite wounds after trying to feed one of the dolphins. Experts say the stress of being away from home causes the mammals distress and leads to their outbursts.

  • Conditions Are Not Always Safe For Trainers

    Photo: San Diego Shooter / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    There have been more than 100 reports of orca aggression at SeaWorld parks, some of which have led to human injuries and even death. In 2006, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health accurately predicted it was “only a matter of time” until a trainer gets killed, which eventually came to pass with Dawn Brancheau's death in 2010.