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SeaWorld Orcas Live As Long As Those In The Wild, Study Claims

The lifespan of orcas, or killer whales, raised in captivity is just as long as those who live in the wild, according to a new study released by officials from SeaWorld in San Diego, California.

Marine researches from the Minnesota Zoo and SeaWorld examined the lifespan of killer whales from the southern and northern regions of the Pacific Northwest, and then compared the data to the lifespan of orcas bred in captivity, reports Tech Times.

The study, published in the Journal of Mammalogy, reports that the average lifespan of a killer whale living in the southern regions of the Pacific Northwest is around 29 years, while orcas in the northern regions can live up to 42.3 years. Whales raised at the SeaWorld marine facility reach an average of 41.6 years.

“The results demonstrate unequivocally that killer whales in captivity have similar life expectancies to those in the wild,” said SeaWorld’s vice-president of theriogenology Todd Robeck.

The results demonstrate unequivocally that killer whales in captivity have similar life expectancies to those in the wild and provide invaluable knowledge concerning normal reproductive patterns of the species.

The Seattle Times reports that PETA and other animal welfare groups are criticizing the study. The point of contention among the animal advocates is that Robeck and two other employees of SeaWorld along with Kevin Willis, the vice president of biological programs for the Minnesota Zoo, wrote the study.

“SeaWorld’s claims simply don’t hold water,” said PETA’s director of animal law, Jared Goodman.

SeaWorld’s claims simply don’t hold water

A previous study published in Marine Mammal Science found that the life expectancy of orcas in captivity was a mere 11.8 years. This new study by Robeck and Willis disputes the findings of the previous study.

In 2013 the release of the documentary Blackfish – which accused SeaWorld of neglecting and abusing its captive orcas – led to the marine theme park being scrutinized and publicly criticized by PETA and other animal rights groups.

SeaWorld continues to deny allegations of abuse, and has launched a campaign to dispute the allegations outlined in Blackfish.

In other orca news, scientists discovered that female killer whales, after going through menopause, act as leaders for their pods.

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