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.