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Study Concludes Life Expectancy Of SeaWorld Orcas Same As In The Wild

Photo: Michael Lowin, Wikimedia Commons.

A new study concludes the life expectancy for killer whales born at SeaWorld is the same as those in the wild.

The findings address a key criticism the company has faced since an orca killed a trainer in 2010.

The study appears in the Journal of Mammalogy, published by Oxford University Press.

Kevin Willis oversees animal care at the Minnesota Zoo. He is a co-author of the study.

“We did a formal statistical evaluation because there is lots of opinion out there as to how long they live, and many people think any animal in human care is suffering in some way and so it must have a shorter life expectancy.”

Willis says reproductive patterns also are similar.

SeaWorld has been under growing pressure since an orca killed a trainer in Orlando and the 2013 documentary “Blackfish” suggested the whale’s treatment contributed to her death.

The documentary contends captive killer whales don’t live as long as those in the wild.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »