Thursday, February 25, 2010

Should We Free Willy?

Yesterday we were reminded that killer whales may not be well suited to life in captivity. I watched Free Willy in theater at an impressionable age, and I am not without compassion for the species. And yet I support maintaining a captive breeding population as an insurance policy against catastrophic losses to the wild populations. I have always enjoyed nature, growing up watching the Nature of Things. I idolized David Suzuki, until he went nutty on the climate change. I was also a big fan of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter and the Crocodile Dundee who inspired him.

Several animal species are under threat of extinction because poachers can sell them as a luxury item on the open black market. Tigers aren't dwindling because nature has selected them for extinction, they are threatened because their fur is valuable and the Chinese believe eating Tiger genitals has mystical powers. I support the existence of zoos as a hedge against extinction. And yet, I don't see tiny swimming pools as a remotely adequate habitat for something as large as a killer whale.

At the end of the day, I vote for continuing permitting captive orcas, but maybe they shouldn't be performing in shows and they should have larger enclosures.


  1. Why free Freddy I mean Willy, when there is homeless people who need to be fed.

  2. The only reason for keeping orcas in captivity is for show. I don't see too many blue whales in captivity but I hear that they are much rarer than orcas.

    I do hope they kill the killer killer whale.


  4. Yes I tend to agree. I am not thrilled with zoos exactly, but I do enjoy taking my kids to see animals they would normally not get a chance to ever see face to face. I think it can be very important for study, breeding, perhaps fighting extinction as mentioned, etc. But the sea tanks are just NOT enough. I saw the killer whales in Vancouver in 1992 and I was very very upset at their enclosure. There were 3 of them I believe and all they did the whole time was swim around in circles repeatedly. It was very sad and I felt so disturbed, I refused to stay to watch the show. I'm not sure how long after that visit they were removed.

    In 2008 I went again to the Vancouver aquarium and watched the Belugas. A baby had just been born and gramma was separated for awhile. Her tank was very small but she was peeking at people and goofing around at least... and then she ended up pregnant and birthed a baby last year so the breeding doesn't seem to be affected by their tank.... I would just like to see a big massive oceanic paradise for those creatures, like the improvements made at the Calgary Zoo for the apes and some other creatures.

    I would like zoos to be as close to their natural habitats as we can get. If we can't expand enough, then don't take on any more animals - end of story. I also recall being highly disturbed by the sight of a polar bear at either Calgary or Vancouver (I cannot recall which) because the bear was doing that head-bobbing and pacing thing and she died soon after I was there. That was very sad... her enclosure was okay, but it was not big enough for such a large animal. If we hope to save some of these animals from being endangered or extinct, how can we hope to release any if their current climate is nothing like the 'wild'?

  5. A visitor from Lethbridge Alberta skewed the Free Willy poll. You can delete the cookie and vote again, but it registers each time it gives you a new one. That you for your 20+ reloads today. The poll will be deleted.

  6. The other open polls are compromised and will be flagged. Polar bears got a simultaneous increase in votes with free willy votes.