SeaWorld Used Invasive Breeding Drugs on Female Orcas

March 22, 2016

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SeaWorld has announced an end to the forced breeding of their captive orcas. TheInternational Marine Mammal Project (IMMP)’s many lawsuits and research were clearly part of their motivation to end breeding, taking advantage of the “Blackfish Effect” from the documentary that opened the facts of captivity to the world. Many other organizations and individuals worked tirelessly for years to end the cruel keeping of intelligent, social, and wide-ranging orcas in small concrete tanks. If it “takes a village” to raise a child, it takes a lot more of the community nationwide to succeed in showing SeaWorld’s leaders the errors of their way.

IMMP has just uncovered the extent of manipulation of female orcas for the artificial breeding program that SeaWorld is finally ending.

A few years back, SeaWorld commissioned a study using invasive research on female captive orcas to determine how to manipulate their reproductive cycles. The objective was to boost the number of babies by reducing the time between pregnancies through artificial insemination and drugs. Ultimately, such intervention produced more orca babies born to perform in SeaWorld’s three parks. This practice benefited the bottom line at the expense of these highly intelligent and sentient apex predators.

SeaWorld, in response to last fall’s amendment to a permit by the California Coastal Commission that would ban breeding of captive orcas in their San Diego park, claimed at that time that orcas have a “right to breed.”

But SeaWorld was abusing such rights themselves by making baby factories out of their orcas and dolphins using the drug altrenogest, a synthetic progesterone analog, according to the research, which is used routinely in domestic horses and pigs to boost production of young.

The evidence for this invasive research on female orcas is contained in a scientific paper touted by SeaWorld as an example of its contribution to the science of orcas. The article is “Reproductive Physiology and Development of Artificial Insemination Technology in Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)” from the scientific journal Biology of Reproduction, August 1, 2004 vol. 71 no. 2 650-660. SeaWorld lists this particular paper here on its website, ironically called “SeaWorld Cares”.

The scientific paper states: “This project was funded by SeaWorld Corporation and is a SeaWorld Technical contribution no. 2004-01-T.” The lead author is listed as based at SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas.

Three of SeaWorld’s female orcas were used in this research study, which the authors termed: “…the first successful conceptions, resulting in live offspring, using artificial insemination in any cetacean species.”

Not just female orcas are subjected to this invasive forced breeding. Such use of artificial hormones to help induce pregnancy, according to the paper, has also been done with Pacific white-sided and bottlenose dolphins at SeaWorld.

To read the full article to go the Huffington Post

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