Earlier this year I entered FameLab 2014, a competition where scientists speak for about 3 minutes on a topic of their choice. The scientists have to be engaging, to speak in an understandable manner, and most importantly – they have Read more…
This week I helped out at a training course helping veterinary inspectors understand the EU legislation on the welfare of chickens. Animal welfare research informs the legislation which goes on to protect the welfare of the animals. This is assessed Read more…
If you live in the UK or US you’re running out of excuses not to watch the documentary Blackfish. It’s had a cinematic release and been shown on the BBC, as well as being available on iTunes.
For the uninitiated, Blackfish is the story of an orca who recently killed its trainer at SeaWorld. As a result, SeaWorld trainers were prohibited from entering the water with the animals.
When I’m not slaving away over a hot computer screen and working on my next paper, I am a bit of a film geek. In fact I wrote the first draft of this post before heading to my monthly film pub quiz (we lost). Blackfish is a truly brilliant documentary. It takes you an emotional journey, is beautifully structured, and paints the orca, Tilikum, as a flawed, sympathetic character. I love it as a film.
But we’re scientists! Let’s take a critical look at the concept of keeping orcas in captivity. As I have access to scientific papers, I decided to do a short review of the literature. When talking about science I think it’s important to cite your sources (and no doubt I’ll say this many times in future) so I will link to papers. Unfortunately some of them, if not most, will be behind a paywall.
I wrote this post over a number of days, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive literature search. This is the kind of literature search I’d do if someone asked me what I thought of orcas in captivity.
So what did I find out?