New tragedies, same cruelty – cetaceans continue to suffer in captivity


Over the past few days, one captive orca has died and another was attacked by a tank-mate at SeaWorld San Diego.

These sad incidents are stark reminders that these wild animals are not made for a life in captivity.

Nakai, a 20-year-old captive orca whale born at SeaWorld San Diego, died on August 4th, 2022, of an infection. He passed away without living a day of freedom. 

Just a day later, eyewitness footage captured an attack among other orcas that resulted in serious wounds to at least one of them. The distressed orca being attacked can be seen in the video beaching themselves in an attempt to get away from their aggressors.  

Cetaceans have complex social bonds and hierarchies. On top of that, captive marine mammals often have nowhere to go when trying to deescalate interspecies aggression. In captivity, they are often forced to live in small spaces with incompatible individuals. The absence of retreat spaces and visual barriers that would allow the animals to hide from one another has led to serious aggressive interactions between animals, in at least some cases resulting in serious injury and even death.  

Marine mammal captivity for entertainment is cruelty 

Marine mammals’ welfare will always be severely compromised by captivity.

These animals are trapped in tiny, barren, concrete tanks, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. They live in completely unnatural and artificial conditions, which can cause chronic physical and mental stress. 

While in the wild, cetaceans (dolphins and whales) can travel 64-160 kilometers a day, achieve speeds up to 48 kilometers per hour, and some can dive hundreds of feet deep. In captivity they are limited to less than one millionth of their natural habitat range, even in the largest facilities.  

In ‘The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity’ report, we provide scientific evidence to support the case that keeping marine mammals captive for the purposes of entertainment, whether captured from the wild or bred in captivity, can cause immense suffering – from capture, to transport, to a lifelong existence in small barren tanks. 

Captive marine mammals often suffer from a huge range of health problems, including extreme stress, neurotic behaviours, and abnormal levels of aggression. 

An orca performing to crowd at SeaWorld San Diego

The state of captive cetaceans in Canada

Canada passed Bill S-203 in 2019 that banned the keeping of cetaceans in captivity and prohibits the use of these animals for entertainment purposes, making the current generation of captive cetaceans in Canada the last one. There is one facility in Canada that still houses cetaceans, including a single orca whale named Kiska, who has sadly been dubbed “the loneliest whale in the world”. 

Kiska has lived alone in her small concrete tank at Marineland Niagara Falls since 2011. She has been witnessed displaying repetitive abnormal behaviours (stereotypies – frequently a sign of stress), and often appears unmotivated and lethargic, just floating listlessly as if she has given up.  

Heartbreaking footage of Kiska alone has moved animal lovers across the country to fight for Kiska’s freedom with petitions and a #FreeKiska campaign. Additionally, Marineland Niagara is currently under investigation for allegedly using marine mammals for entertainment, which would be in violation with Federal legislation. 

Help us end the demand for wildlife entertainment 

We need your support to urge Groupon to prohibit running deals for venues that offer interactions with wild animals and/or captive wild animal performances. 

Why target Groupon? Groupon is one of the largest tourism companies that continue to sell deals to venues that exploit wild animals for entertainment and profit. With its millions of users, the permanent removal of these exploitative venues from their offering would positively impact thousands of animals. 

Groupon has done business with venues like Marineland, and the Miami Seaquarium, and dozens of other controversial venues where animal health and welfare issues have been of concern.    

Help us stop cruel wildlife entertainment.  

Sign the petition telling Groupon to stop profiting from wild animal suffering and adopt a public animal welfare policy that protects animals instead of exploiting them. 

Sign now!