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Marine World Animal Abuse


Orcas And Dolphins:

 Shouka at Six Flags in Vallejo. © Michael Reppy
Two orca whales and 4 dolphins have died prematurely since Six Flags bought Marine World in 1997. The two orcas were females: Yaka, age 32, died of pneumonia in 1997, and Vigga, age 23, died of heart and lung failure in 2000. Researchers have established that the normal life span of female orcas in the wild is 50 years, with some living to 70 or 80 years; for males the average is 30 years with some living up to 50. (Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, by Adrienne Mason, 1999, p. 105). Marine World continues to say that the average life span of captive whales is the same as in the wild at 25 years old, which is an outright lie. Prior to 1997, 34 dolphins and 4 orcas (Bonnie and Nepo and 2 stillborn calves) also died at Marine World.

Sea Lion:

In July 1998, Midori, a three month old orphaned sea lion was "cooked to death" when a heater was mistakenly turned on driving the temperature to 100 degrees in the pup's glass enclosure. The USDA investigated and Six Flags was fined $2,000.


In addition, at least 22 other animals have died under Six Flags care since 1997, including, 5 elephants, and 12 kangaroos and wallabies. In November 2000, Kala, a two year old baby elephant, died of a virus after only six months at Marine World. Animal experts had warned of the dangers of separating a baby from its mother, when it is known that elephant babies nurse for about 5 years, and males naturally stay with their mothers for 10-15 years.

In November 2002, Tika,a 24 year old African elephant was euthanized due to massive internal infection after carrying a dead, full term fetus in her womb for several weeks. Tika had been artificially inseminated. Four months later, another elephant, Misha, a 23 year old African elephant who had been artificially inseminated, gave birth to a stillborn calf. On June 1, 2004, Misha gored a trainer. Elephants are normally gentle, but after years of abuse, they may strike back like Misha did. Elephants at Marine World are often chained by two legs for prolonged periods, and trainers use "bull hooks" to hit, jab and hook elephants to dominate and control them.


Captivity for large, highly intelligent and social marine mammals like orca whales, which can grow to as large as 26 feet and weigh in at 4 to 8 tons, is a death sentence. After the violent capture of orcas in the wild, they often refuse to eat and are force fed and "broken" to submit to the will of their captures. Eventually they do submit and eat dead fish, learn to do the "tricks" taught to them, and bond with their human caretakers.

Orcas evolved over about 60 million years into highly intelligent animals with brains 4 times the size of humans, and with complex social structures. Orcas bond for life in matriarchal pods with their own distinct dialects. They are very smart, curious, interactive, emotional, and communicative, utilizing a repertoire of calls, squeaks, and whistles. In the wild, orcas swim 50-100 miles a day with their pods. In captivity, the isolation from their families in the sterile confines of concrete tanks with harsh acoustics and chlorinated water, takes a heavy toll. Depression with chewing and head butting on the pool sides is common. Suppressed immune systems with frequent infections are treated with massive doses of antibiotics. Although a marine park may do the best they can to give their whales medical care, and say they love their animals like the Marine World signs stating "We Love Shouka," the statistics show that captive orcas rarely live more than 9-10 years in captivity. Shouka's fate now is one of a lone performing whale, who is denied her birthright of living with her family pod in the natural ocean environment. She will surely die a premature death like Yaka and Vigga and the other orcas at Marine World.

For photos and links to more information on captivity, please click here.

Get Involved -- Help Leaflet at Marine World!
Join our leafleting campaign at Marine World. A group of about six people gather at the front entrance on a week-end afternoon to hand out informational flyers and talk to the visitors about our concerns for the animals. To help with public education and leafleting, contact Michael Reppy, Director, Project Thursday's Child, at (415) 381-4232 or Help Her Return Home!