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Readers React: SeaWorld should take the next step and send orcas to ocean sanctuaries

To the editor: I applaud SeaWorld’s decision to stop captive breeding and phase out theatrical shows, but SeaWorld chief Joel Manby’s characterization of an attempt to return the whale Keiko to the wild as a “failure” misses the point. (“SeaWorld CEO: We’re ending our orca breeding program. Here’s why,” Opinion, March 17)

Keiko lived in the wild in a very large bay pen for the latter years of his life. He interacted with orca and other wild animals in the open ocean and gained health and stamina from being able to swim long distances. While he did not reconnect with wild orca on any permanent basis, he interacted with his own kind in his natural birth environment in ways he never could have in captivity.

The orcas at SeaWorld live in bare and boring enclosures. These highly intelligent animals deserve to live their remaining years in natural environments under human care. The overwhelming evidence of orca distress in captivity is far too great to ignore.

Manby should continue to listen to the public, which is now asking for SeaWorld to close the chapter of captive orca history by retiring the remaining whales and, at a minimum, allowing them the opportunity to swim wild under close supervision of human care in ocean enclosures. Let’s retire these intelligent, social, complex animals to seaside sanctuaries.

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Jean-Michel Cousteau, Santa Barbara

The writer is founder, president and chairman of the Oceans Future Society.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook


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