SeaWorld just opened a new aquatic animal prison a decade after the documentary Blackfish brought global attention to the fate of its captive sea animals. The new facility is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite excluding an orca enclosure, it will still keep cetaceans such as dolphins, and other 68,000 marine animals.
After the 2013 documentary Blackfish showed how orcas were treated at the park, SeaWorld halted its orca breeding program and live performances in 2016, the same year they announced they would increase the number of animals kept in captivity to thousands, continuing to keep all the other animals that suffer as much as orcas in captivity.
In December 2022, the US Department of Agriculture discovered a dolphin “actively bleeding” and excessive chlorine levels in the tanks of a SeaWorld facility. In November 2022, visitors at SeaWorld Orlando, US, witnessed what apparently was an attack of a captive pod of dolphins against one other captive dolphin, who could not escape from being confined in the same tank with the attackers.
Last December, SeaWorld reportedly shipped 24 dolphins to the Abu Dhabi location. This decision incited PETA and several other groups to call for the release of the dolphins before the park opened, but they received no response from the amusement park company.
Jason Baker, senior vice president of international campaigns at PETA, said, “SeaWorld is part of an industry built on the suffering of intelligent, social beings who are denied everything that’s natural and important to them. In nature, dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day. In captivity, they can only swim in endless circles inside tanks that, to them, are the equivalent of bathtubs.”