In a recent feature on The Dodo, former water quality diver Sarah Fischbeck revealed the grisly details of the daily abuses she saw during her employment with SeaWorld. Fischbeck began working at the troubled aquatic park—which has seen attendance, public opinion, and profits plummet after the 2013 release of CNN documentary Blackfish—in 2007 and says, “If people knew what I know, or saw what I have seen, they wouldn’t sell another ticket.” Fischbeck went on to reveal that she would regularly find “long strips of what looked like black rubber” at the bottom of orca tanks, which she said was the result of regular, stress-induced fighting among the whales. To diffuse this aggression—and that toward trainers and birds—trainers were regularly instructed to sedate the park’s captive animals with Valium. Fischbeck goes on to tell the story of Ruby, a beluga whale that was “not fit for motherhood” as she killed her first calf but was continually artificially inseminated so she could reproduce in captivity because “calves were profitable.” Fischbeck says that the circumstances surrounding Ruby’s 2014 death remain mysterious and that when she asked her former co-workers, they were “really hush-hush about it,” adding that “nobody wants to lose their jobs.” Furthermore, Fischbeck revealed that penguins have no protection from the public and that trainers regularly found shoes, cameras, socks, and maps in their tanks; that walruses would routinely vomit due to stress; and that trainers would find dolphins lying outside their tanks as victims of stress-induced aggression from tank mates. Fischbeck states that marine animals would regularly attack trainers, were banished to tiny, out-of-sight holding tanks, and bred continuously. Fischbeck left SeaWorld voluntarily in 2013 after witnessing and being involved in brutal attacks by stressed dolphins, citing poor treatment of employees and animals. SeaWorld’s CEO Joel Manby recently announced that the park would funnel $100 million in funds—previously allocated toward expanding whale tanks—into allegedly developing the image of SeaWorld as a conservationist organization.
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