SeaWorld Trainer Reveals Shocking Truth Of What Happens To Killer Whales

by : Julia Banim on : 20 Aug 2017 16:49
Blackfish/Magnolia Pictures

After working at SeaWorld for 14 years, John Hargrove has described the lives of the captive killer whales as being ‘a disgrace to humanity’. 


John quit his job back in 2012, having believed himself to be ‘complicit in selling the lie to the public’.

Nowadays, he is dedicated to exposing the cruelties of SeaWorld, where miserable orcas develop diseases and die much younger than they would do in the wild.

Out in their natural habitats, orcas may live for up to 80 to 100 years old. In captivity, this lifespan expectancy drops dramatically to 29 years for females and 17 years for males.

Blackfish/Magnolia Pictures

Only last week, orca matriarch Kasatka was euthanised at the age of 42, after fighting a long term bacterial respiratory infection. Her death is the third one among the SeaWorld orcas this year alone.

The park’s most famous whale Tilikum died back in January from a lung infection at the age of 36, while 3-month-year-old baby calf Kyara passed away from pneumonia in July.

Speaking about Kasatka’s untimely death with the Daily Mail, John was apparently reduced to tears:

What continues to go on in parks like SeaWorld is an abomination,
They claim captive orcas help educate people, and for years I bought into it. But Kasatka lived in misery, in barbaric and horrific conditions, and died in agony. She lived out her days in a house of horrors.

Horrifyingly, these enormous creatures are kept in cramped and unstimulating conditions, where they can often be found banging their heads against the side of the pool out of sheer frustration and boredom.

Out in the wild, these beautiful whales would have miles of ocean to explore, but at SeaWorld they are apparently treated as mere theme park attractions, to be packed away like toys once the audience have taken their last pictures.


Disturbingly, this boredom can mutate into violent behaviours. In the past, trainers have been injured or even killed by the frustrated whales.

Notorious Tilikum killed three people during his unhappy lifetime; two trainers and a member of the public who entered the park after hours.

According to John, attacks against humans by the captive whales were a regular occurrence:

In the wild, orcas rarely show aggression towards humans. But I lost count of the attacks I witnessed and suffered first-hand,

I’ve been butted against the side of the pool, grabbed by my torso and dragged down. I’m amazed I’m still alive.

There was an overflowing of concern for the orcas’ welfare after the 2013 documentary Blackfish was released, focusing on the sad life of captive Tilikum , driven mad by his artificial surroundings:

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After this new death sheds fresh criticism on SeaWorld, John continues to stand up for these gentle giants he watched suffer for so long.

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals