Gillian Anderson calls for SeaWorld to free the last 23 orca whales in captivity

The actress wants the adventure park to send its remaining whales to a coastal sanctuary


Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 15 June 2016 18:12 BST
The actress said that the whales in captivity go 'insane' from the reverberations of their sonar off the tank walls
The actress said that the whales in captivity go 'insane' from the reverberations of their sonar off the tank walls (Getty Images)

Actress Gillian Anderson is calling for SeaWorld to move its last 23 orca whales to a new coastal sanctuary, rather than “languishing” in small enclosures.

The X-Files star, speaking on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at SeaWorld’s annual online meeting, said the captive whales have “suffered for years” and in a coastal sanctuary they “would be able to enjoy some semblance of a natural life and finally feel the ocean currents”.

According to her statement for the meeting, she said that the whales “break their teeth gnawing on bars and concrete, and they go insane from the reverberations of their sophisticated sonar off the tank walls”.

“Given the tide of public opinion against orca captivity, my question is: When will SeaWorld retire the orcas to protected sea sanctuaries and reinvent the park with attractions glorifying the ocean, rather than traumatizing its most intelligent inhabitants?” Ms Anderson’s statement read.

The actress starred in a PETA advert in November, in which she was gruesomely served her own leg at the dinner table to shine a light on vegetarianism.

PETA has long argued that the orca whales are maltreated in enclosures. The sociable animals are separated from their families and made to perform most days for visitors.

The campaign group owns stock in SeaWorld in order to challenge and educate the board.

SeaWorld announced it would end its orca-breeding program after it faced a massive public backlash against keeping the animals in captivity - an issue that was thrown into the spotlight in part by 2013 documentary “Blackfish”.

The move comes after Baltimore’s National Aquarium announced that it will send eight bottlenose dolphins to a sanctuary on the Atlantic ocean, including 17-year-old dolphin Jade, who was born in SeaWorld Orlando.

The new sanctuary, which will be built by 2020, will be wider and deeper and contain natural stimulus such as fish and aquatic plants.

“This spells the beginning of the end for dolphin captivity and the start of an age in which SeaWorld, the Miami Seaquarium, and other marine parks reject excuses not to retire long-suffering captive dolphinsincluding orcasto sanctuaries,” PETA’s executive vice president Tracy Reiman said.

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