Sea World accused of using drugs to control ’its’ whales

Reports have emerged that in a onging court battle documents have surfaced that reveal that SeaWorld has used drugs on several killer whales with benzodiazepines — a class of drug that includes Valium and Xanax. The documents were filed as a sworn affidavit (available on the Buzzfeed website) in a 2011 legal wrangle between SeaWorld and Marineland of Canada.

The use of drugs to mould captive dolphns to their concrete envionments is nothing new. WDC previously revealed (July 2012) that data obtained from the German Nuremberg dolphinarium, showed that in over 50% of cases where drugs were used to control behaviour, aggression amongst the dolphins was the stated cause.
 
WDC discovered that in Nuremberg, in addition to Valium, aggression was also controlled with hormonal treatment, mostly of Megestat, a female hormone mostly administered to the male dolphins. 
 
Access to this previously hidden data was only possible following a legal victory by WDC (the first of its kind) at the Appeal Court in Munich, Germany, in 2011. The court found in WDC’s favour by granting access to all information relating to the display and husbandry of captive dolphins at Nuremberg Zoo. The Nuremberg data suggests that Diazepam is not only given as an appetizer but used to interfere with the animals’ natural behaviour.

In 2006 and 2007 several dolphin calves and an adult female died at the Nuremberg Zoo. WDC took action and asked representatives of the zoo, as well as the City of Nuremberg (who have responsibility for the Zoo) for access to all data relating to the display of dolphins for an independent review. The request and access was denied. Representatives at the Zoo had argued that the public had no right to access such information, claiming that keeping dolphins in captivity has no impact on dolphins in the wild. However, WDC was able to demonstrate how keeping dolphins in captivity does relate to the conservation of the species in the wild, successfully arguing that the continued removal of wild dolphins for use in Zoos impacts upon wild populations.

In 2012 WDC reported that pprevious veterinary reports regarding the cause of death of two dolphins at a Swiss dolphinarium, Connyland, had been thrown in to doubt following the leak of a report which suggested the eight-year-old Shadow and 30-year old Chelmers died from brain damage after an overdose of antibiotics, and were the seventh and eight dolphins to die in Connyland in the past three years.

The recent revelations about SeaWorld are just another factor adding to the calls that SeaWorld should end the captive display of whales and dolphins. WDC has been leading the calls for the captive display industry to change once and for all.
 

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