SeaWorld claims that it has no dolphins or whales from the Japanese drive hunts and that it strongly opposes these hunts. It also claims that US law prohibits imports from Japanese drive hunts. Specifically, SeaWorld states that “not a single animal living in our parks came from a drive hunt.” Finally, it states that “In the 1980s, SeaWorld and other U.S. parks saved a handful of marine mammals from these fisheries, but we stopped many years ago because we didn’t want to be a party to it, even if we were only present to save animals.”
By its own admission, SeaWorld had dolphins and whales from the drive hunts in its parks, but they are all now dead.
The company went to the drives to source animals for its “collections,” just as any other buyer would do. It did not “save” these cetaceans from the drives, in the sense of going there specifically to prevent them from being killed or doing anything to end the drives. Subsequently, it imported these animals into the US. (The Marine Mammal Protection Act, the US law regulating marine mammal imports, has not been amended regarding import requirements since the 1980s, so SeaWorld’s statement that the law prohibits imports from the drives and its admission that it imported some cetaceans from the drives contradict each other.)
In fact, the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits import of animals captured inhumanely; the capture method specified on permits by the US government for imports from Japan was the purse seine method (see, e.g., NOAA 1988). SeaWorld and other parks held capture and import permits in the 1980s mandating this method be used. However, again by SeaWorld’s own admission, instead the drive fishing method was used. SeaWorld stopped sourcing cetaceans from the drive hunts not because it didn’t want to be a party to the practice, but because the captures were in violation of the facilities’ permit conditions and this violation was eventually exposed.
In mid-1993 the imminent import of false killer whales from Japan by the Indianapolis Zoo was stopped because non-profit animal groups – not the captive display industry – revealed that the import permit conditions to use the purse seine method had been violated (the drive fishing method had been used). In response, the US government modified the permit to require evidence that the capture method was humane and consistent with the permit conditions (NOAA 1993). As this was not possible, the Indianapolis Zoo never imported these false killer whales and all imports from Japan ended, not because of voluntary action by facilities such as SeaWorld, but because of government action, brought about by the efforts of non-profit animal groups.
The US government has never actually ruled that drive fisheries are inhumane. Therefore the argument that US law prohibits the import of cetaceans from Japan’s drive hunts is not strictly true. It prohibits imports of animals captured using inhumane methods, but the permit in 1993 was modified without the agency making a definitive ruling on the humaneness of the drive fishing capture method.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 1988. Permit number 628 issued to the Indianapolis Zoo. See 53 Federal Register 12801, April 13.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 1993. Modification to permit number 628 issued to the Indianapolis Zoo. See 58 Federal Register 58686, November 3.
“Where do you get your Dolphins from? Do ANY of them come from Japan?”
Most of our dolphins were born at SeaWorld. (80% of the marine mammals at our parks were born in human care.) We don’t have any dolphins or whales from the drive hunts in Japan. In fact, SeaWorld strongly opposes these hunts and U.S. law prohibits drive hunt animals from entering this country. Learn more here.
Is SeaWorld opposed to the Taiji drive hunts?
Contrary to what you might hear from activists who want to mislead the public, SeaWorld is opposed to this horrific practice and not a single animal living in our parks came from a drive hunt. In fact, federal law prohibits bringing animals from this hunt into the United States. Hear direct from SeaWorld’s Zoological V.P. as he discusses this practice and why SeaWorld is opposed to it.
Is SeaWorld involved in the drive hunts documented in The Cove?
No. SeaWorld, like every zoo and aquarium in America, is opposed to hunts like the ones shown so graphically in The Cove. It is a violation of U.S. law to bring a marine mammal into this country that was collected in a drive hunt. None of our marine mammals came from a drive hunt. The Cove is purposefully misleading on these points, which diminishes what is otherwise a moving and important film on a reprehensible practice.
In the 1980s, SeaWorld and other U.S. parks saved a handful of marine mammals from these fisheries, but we stopped many years ago because we didn’t want to be a party to it, even if we were only present to save animals.