Orcas in Captivity
Ah, the mysterious orcas!
Although scientists have studied killer whales in the wild for many years, they still have many questions about their lives. Your research crew wonders about orcas in captivity and whether anything can be learned from them.
In STEP 4, you will learn about orcas and other whales in captivity, and, the controversy about whether or not they should be kept that way. You will report back to your crew about your opinion on this issue and whether or not researchers such as yourself can learn anything of value from them.
Orcas In Captivity: The Issue
Visit the sites below to learn about orcas in captivity. Start a new page in your Research Log and be sure to jot down any information that will help you answer the questions listed below the site links.
- The Orca Foundation
You can learn about orcas in captivity and the "controversy surrounding the captivity of intelligent marine mammals." Scroll down to the section called "The Controversy."
- A Whale's Tale: Set Lolita Free!
You can read the story of one killer whale named Lolita, who has been in captivity since 1964.
- J.J.'s Adventure: A Baby Gray Whale's Rescue and Release
Although J.J is not a killer whale, you can read about this gray whale who was rescued as an infant after being separated from her mother. J.J. was released back into the wild after 14 months of recovery. This site was created by children who visited J.J. at SeaWorld before her release.
- Keiko's Story
Choose "Keiko's Story" on the left side of the page.
You can read about Keiko the killer whale, the star of the Free Willy movies, who has been in captivity since he was about two years old. You can follow Keiko's life by clicking on a specific year of Keiko's life. Recently, Keiko was moved to a sea pen in Iceland, where it is hoped that he will some day be able to be released back into the ocean.
- The Orca Project
This site describes a project for protecting the world's orcas and has links to the story about Corky the Killer Whale who has been in captivity at SeaWorld in San Diego for more than 27 years.
How Do You Feel?
Now that you have read about orcas in captivity, it is time for you to decide your opinion about this controversial issue and report it back to your research team. Using the notes you collected in your research log, answer the questions below to tell your teammates why you feel the way you do.
- Should wild orcas or other wild whales be kept in captivity? Why?
- Is there ever any reason to keep a wild orca or other whale in captivity? Why?
- What, if anything, can scientists learn from whales, like J.J, Corky and Keiko, in captivity?
Bravo! You are ready to make your report to the research team. With the information you have gathered from Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3, your team will be ready to begin their study of killer whales in the wild.
To continue, click Step 5: Research Report. Good luck with your report!
This resource originally created by Lucy M. Schiller