From SW’s animal info training session, 5/09/2014:
They essentially had an hour and a half of “training”, which was really a very long anti-Blackfish speech/presentation. The hr reps basically showed the emps most of the videos on the “SeaWorld Cares” site. There were also a couple of…
In addition to the conservation status of the orcas… SeaWorld doesn’t breed their orcas in a way that’s conducive to any wild release. They mix transients and residents, two groups with very different behaviors and might even be different subspecies. If they’re breeding ‘em for conservation, they should really do some research and find out if transients and residents are genetically distinct enough to call them different subspecies. If it turns out they are different, then mixed orcas would likely be considered unsuitable for any wild release. Conservation breeding programs generally avoid mixing subspecies. You know the statistic about how there are more privately owned tigers in Texas than there are in the wild, or whatever? People often ask why those tigers aren’t used for breeding, and it’s because the majority are mixes. (often called generic tigers, American tigers, or unflatteringly, junk tigers) They are considered useless for conservation, and I’m pretty sure the AZA doesn’t even let their zoos breed them any more. Maybe it would be different for orcas, but if SW wants a releasable population, they should avoid mixing until there’s more info.
And, if SW is hoping to one day release orcas… They’d really have to change the way the animals are kept. The captive ones are kept in unnatural social groups, and enclosures that don’t resemble natural environments at all. Even if rehabilitated for wild release, a captive-born orca likely won’t know how to interact with normal orcas, something that would be a big issue. Not to mention, how would an orca release even work? If you have a wild-born orca and you know where the family pod is, you bring it to that, but captive orcas? It is possible for another pod to adopt it, but I wouldn’t count on it, especially since, again, a captive orca often hasn’t had normal interactions. You’d probably have to create a whole captive pod and release ‘em all at once. Honestly, due to social structure and lifestyle, orcas are a pretty poor candidate for captive breeding programs in the first place…
And yeah, the captive gene pool is too small to really have much of a conservation breeding program. It would be unethical (not to mention, counterproductive to the conservation aspect) to go around taking wild orcas outside of the ones in immediate danger of dying. If they do business with parks that obtain from wild captures, they’re condoning the practice, and orphan cases don’t happen often enough for them to replenish from that.
Just as well, the fact that SW goes on and on about how a captive orca can’t be released should be proof enough that they don’t have orca conservation on the mind when they breed. I go to zoos rather frequently, and I’ve never been to one that tells me the tigers/elephants/whatever they breed can’t go into the wild. After all, that’s kind of the point of conservation breeding. SW can’t have it both ways; they can’t say they breed for conservation work while at the same time saying captive animals can never be released, and expect people to buy it.
While we’re on the subject… If we’re talking conservation breeding programs, are there any places that breed endangered cetaceans for such purposes? I actually don’t know of many endangered ones kept in captivity, but I’m sure there’s some somewhere. I just find it interesting that there are a lot of aquariums and parks that TALK about captive breeding for endangered cetaceans, but not really any acting on that. Any theories as to why that is? I think there was an attempt on keeping and breeding baiji (the recently extinct Chinese river dolphin) but it was never really successful.
Hmmm…just curious so are you saying that they lied about whether or not they bring in semen/genes from outside their parks? Because we all know that they brought in kshamenk semen as someone already pointed out. Also your saying that they have 29 breeding aged whales? They don’t is anyone else getting good red flags from this blog??? Can I be the first to call bullshit. Just saying