Poll Reveals Americans Oppose Keeping Orcas In Captivity
An independent survey commissioned by WDCS, together with partners The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute, shows that the number of Americans who strongly oppose keeping killer whales in captivity for public display is double that of those who are strongly in favour of the practice.
The first-ever public opinion poll on US attitudes toward keeping orcas in captivity for display reveals that support for the keeping of killer whales in captivity is low.
The results show a high level of concern regarding the impacts of removing these animals from the wild and keeping them in captivity. Significantly, the poll reveals the public's lack of enthusiasm towards keeping orcas in captivity and that captive orcas are not, and would not, be the primary reason for visiting these facilities. 71 percent of respondents say that if zoos, aquaria and marine mammal theme parks were to end the practice of keeping killer whales, they would still visit. Indeed, a further 14% would be more likely to visit if the practice of displaying killer whales were to stop.
Over 80% of those surveyed believe that not allowing orcas to engage in natural behaviour, and the health impacts of confinement in small pools is a sufficient reason to stop keeping orcas in captivity.
The survey comes on the back of a long-awaited court decision in the hearing between the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and SeaWorld, which backed a previous decision by OSHA to fine SeaWorld for failing to provide adequate protection for its trainers when in the water with the animals. The original hearing took place following OSHA’s investigation into the tragic death of SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau in February 2010.
Commenting on the survey and the court ruling, Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDCS said: “With recent events shining a spotlight on performing orcas in places like SeaWorld, including current court challenges questioning the keeping these animals in confinement, we felt it time to measure public attitudes about captivity. I think the US public has glimpsed the darker side of the captivity industry and are becoming disenchanted with it. The true face of captivity is actually quite repugnant.”
WDCS is calling for much stricter regulation of the captivity industry in the United States and elsewhere, and campaigns against capture, trade and confinement of all whales, dolphins and porpoises.