No Voice No Choice: revealing animal captivity cruelty behind the stage

Have you seen a wonderful orca show in SeaWorld when you were young?

Have you ever seen a fantastic circus in a zoo before?

But have you ever notice the story behind the stage?

Do you really know how those animals are being treated?


My Story

    When I was a child, I loved the animals’ show the best. I was fascinated by the fact that tigers, monkeys, even clumsy bears can do tricks and perform acrobatic. They brought me joy and laughter. However, it all changed when I accidentally saw a trainer whip a tiger when forcing it to perform on stage. The joy I once cherished ceased to exist.

Zoos =  Prisons?

    Generally speaking, a majority of zoos are prisons for animals. They hurt animals through intentionally limiting freedom of the animals. As a result, the lifespan of animals held captive decreases. Hence more animals die because of human influence or the trainer’s negligence.

Take Blackfish as an example…

    Blackfish is a documentary that was released in 2013 which features the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale who was responsible for the death of a several people while being held in captivity. The film exposed the terrible imprisonment Tilikum suffered, the cruel treatment it received at the Seaworld, and the miserable life Tilikum and other orcas has had.

    Through the Blackfish, we can infer the reality faced by captive marine animals — they usually suffer from both psychological and physical mistreatment caused by mostly humans.

    The environment that we provided does not fit them. The tiny tanks in SeaWorld force all the orcas to swim in small circles and float aimlessly at the surface of the water. Their fins are thus defected because the water is rotating clockwise at all times. They would often have collapsed dorsal fins as a result. One of the most typical sign of an unhealthy and stressed male orca is its collapsed dorsal fin.

    There is a part that made me particularly heartbroken: the trainer separated the mother whale Kasatka and her baby Takara because of performance requirements. After being separated, the mother whale screeched and cried all day. Imagine how you would have felt if your child was taken away from you. My heart froze still that moment and the feeling of indignation and empathy spread all over me. How can humanity be like that? It is not fair that humans get to affect marine animals negatively through captivation. In addition, food, which is the basic needs of all living creatures, is regarded merely as an reward in the SeaWorld.

“He was forced to perform every hour on the hour, eight times a day, seven days a week.”

(Click “30 Years and Three Deaths: Tilikum’s Tragic Story” to learn more)

(image from WDC)

    Trainers can starve whales as a punishment as much as they want. The dull practice and the stress captivity brings to these animals make them feel agitated and drive them to exhibit abnormal behavior and as a result, shorten their lifespan.

Here are some cold facts and cruel datas:

  • While wild male orcas live an average of 30 years and up to 60 years and females an average of 50 years and up to more than 100, 38 orcas have died on SeaWorld’s watch at an average age of only 13. Not one has reached the maximum lifespan of an orca in nature.
  • More than 100 other dolphins have also died, alongside countless other animals.(Click “About PETA’s Campaign Against SeaWorld” to learn more)
  • Statistics show that up to 53% of the dolphins that survive the capturing process will die within the first three months in captivity.
  • At least 50% of the dolphins in captivity will die in less than seven years.(Click “WILD DOLPHINS” to learn more)

What’s more:

• The only polar bear in Beijing zoo still suffers isolation from its own species and distance from its home environment. From the picture which I took several days ago, the polluted water and absence of icecaps starkly opposed the home of polar bears. The weather, on the other hand, is about nearly 20 °C (68 °F, exceeding the temperature of their natural inhabitant.

(Image taken by Christina Chen)

• “A survey of the records of 4,500 elephants both in the wild and in captivity found that the median life span for an African elephant in a zoo was 16.9 years, whereas Africa elephants on a nature preserve died of natural causes at a median age of 56 years.

    In conclusion, humans are reason why these poor animals are suffering. Their mistreatments causes animal captivity hence lessens the lifespan of the animals.

Zoo = Conservation + Research+ Education

    The purpose of most zoos is display and profit instead of animal preservation. However, there are still some zoos that do quite well on two aspects: conservation, research and education. To be more specific, a good zoo knows how to provide great care to animals in their control. They know how to establish a proper connection with research institutions as well as educate the public about each species. 


  • “Zoos protect against a species going extinct. A species protected in captivity provides a reservoir population against a population crash or extinction in the wild. Here they are relatively safe and can be bred up to provide foundation populations.


  • “Zoos and aquariums can develop their research capacity by establishing research units within their own organization, by supporting research projects and by developing collaborative partnerships with research institutions.”


  • Education and research work reciprocally. Research findings help the general public understand more about the endangered species. If and only if they know more, they would have interests in helping those animals through donation and more research.

  • I am a lover of animals.
  • I am passionate about helping captive animals.
  • I am a believer who think action is louder that sound.
  • Here is the question…… ➡ 

What Can We Do to protect animals’right?

Step 1: Say no to all kinds of animal performance: the less time they need to perform in front us, the less pain they will suffer. Animals Asia is an organization that dedicated in campaigning to end wild animal performances and improve the health and welfare of the animals held captive in the name of entertainment. If we all say “NO” to the show, then Zoo will not earn any profit, and the show will no longer exist. Hope everyone can take the pledge and say “NO” to animal performance cruelty.

(Click to learn more)

Step 2: Learn more about animals: the more knowledge you have about different species and their current condition, the better contribution you can give to protect their rights.

Step 3: Participate in organizations: apply to be the volunteer at World Wildlife Fund(WWF) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals(PETA).



Click the image below to take the Pledge now!

(Image from Animal Asia)

Works Cited

“About PETA’s Campaign Against SeaWorld”. SeaWorldofHurt,Web. 25 April         2017.

Cristina, Russo. “Can you worry about an animal you’ve never seen? The role of the zoo in education and conservation”.            Blogs.Plogs,11 Mar, 2013. Accessed 23 April 2017.

Dave,Hone. “Why zoos are good”. theguardian,19 August,2014. Web.                  worlds/2014/au. Accessed 23 April 2017.

Dolphins-World. “WILD DOLPHINS”. DOLPHIN-WORLD, 28 Jan, 2014. Web.        Accessed 25 April 2017.

“Science and Research”. WAZA,Web. Accessed 23 April 2017.

“Zoos: Pitiful Prisons”. PETA,Web.                  factsheets/zoos-pitiful-prisons/.Accessed 23 April 2017.

“30 Years and Three Deaths: Tilikum’s Tragic Story”. KosherVeg,11 Nov, 2013. Web. Accessed 25 April 2017.

Share this project
  1. April 27, 2017 by Coco Xiong

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “1@1” in “author_email” *]
    We all want animals to live in their own way.
    Those performances they made in the zoo should be done on the premise of respect and under the principle of kind and equality.

  2. April 28, 2017 by Stella W

    Shoutout to you for standing up for those who can’t speak for themselves! I am a huge animal lover and animal rights supporter as well! I found myself nodding to everything on this page — I definitely think that not a lot of people are aware of the cruelty that comes along with zoos and aquariums. I was wondering which zoos are accomplished at animal preservation rather than display?

  3. May 01, 2017 by Jiatong Yang

    Perhaps we can learn from some developed countries like Singapore and New Zealand. People there really care for the local animals. In their zoos, there are no fence at all. The animals live quite a good life there. Despite of that, I still think the best way to care for the animals is to send them free to their natural habitats. However, their natural habitats are also facing serious troubles. So what we need to do now is actually protecting the animals’ living habitats. Hope you can do further research on this topic and really do something for the animals! 🙂

  4. May 01, 2017 by Monique W

    I love how your topic was about those who cannot speak for themselves. I love animals and I don’t like that conditions that animals have to live in while in zoos and other displays. Places like that are all fun for kids and stuff but the conditions that the animals are kept in could be so much better. I definitely get sad thinking about how they have to live but also I think that more awareness is being brought to the animal cruelty situation.

  5. May 02, 2017 by Clarice C.

    Hi Christina!
    My name is Clarice and I am from Costa Rica. The issue you talk about in your project is one that I am very interested in. Like you, I did love going to zoos, especially Sea World (where I fell in love with orcas). However, as I grew up, I began learning more and more about the mistreatment of animals in zoos and theme parks. I have grown to believe that while certain institutions do care for their animals (and serve, as you said, for conservation, research, and education) there are others that are only there for profit, hence they do not care for their animals. I think it is very important to speak up for those who do not have a voice. The more the word is spread, the more can be done.

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