PolitiFact checks SeaWorld claims about killer whales in captivity

FORT MYERS, Fla.- SeaWorld is fighting back against its critics. The company launched a multi-media blitz this week about its killer whales. The amusement park has come under fire from animal rights activists and the documentary “Blackfish” which was critical of SeaWorld’s treatment of animals in captivity.

Our research partners at PolitiFact Florida decided to take a closer look at the ad, headlined “Fact: Whales live as long at SeaWorld.” In it, SeaWorld cites a federal scientis who found survival rates between whales in the wild and in captivity are comparable.

PolitiFact Florida rated the statement HALF TRUE, “because when you look at all of this together, the point that Sea World is really trying to make is that well hey, things are just as good at Sea World as they would be for orcas in the wild and several experts told us that that’s really not the case,” reporter Joshua Gillin said.

Experts also tell PolitiFact being equal to wild whale populations isn’t great.

“People we talked to said it was basic logic to assume an animal that’s in captivity, that gets veterinary care, that doesn’t have to worry about getting food would live longer,” Gillin said.

SeaWorld currently has in its care several whales in their 30’s and one in its 40’s, which is on par with their expected survival in the wild, but PolitiFact points out statistics can be spun. In the case of the ad campaign, it’s in SeaWorld’s favor, but it can easily go the other way.

“They did say that 1/3 of the animals won’t live longer than eight years. That’s not a very flattering statistic, but that’s part of the data set.”

Ultimately, it’s the tide of public opinion that matters, and it’s a tough sell.

A spokesman for SeaWorld Entertainment says the company is in disagreement with PolitiFact. Fred Jacobs tells WINK News the latest research shows a killer whale born at SeaWorld today will live as long and perhaps longer than one born in the wild.

Jacobs also says, “Groups like PETA regularly mislead the public and media about it. That’s why we felt compelled to create the ad in the first place.”

To read the entire fact-check, click here.