Free Willy…

Whales, the largest mammals known to have ever lived since evolution of earth and all her majestic forms are kept in aquariums across the world and made to perform. They perform for the amusement and entertainment for earth’s most sadistic species, man. Whales are meant to be swimming in the open seas and oceans, migrating from one continental shore to another, breeding and living their life, the way nature intended them to. They are not actors or entertainers who we pay to watch. Have you ever listened to a humpback whale sing? The sounds that they produce using echolocation is used to communicate with their community over many miles in the open oceans. The sounds are soulful and stirring, they sound like pleas for help. They beg not to be caught by the Japanese who chase them in the Pacific and deep Antarctic waters and hunt them down. Under the guise of research they mercilessly chase these gigantic animals around until they are trapped by their power driven vessels, cannons and exploding harpoons. The whales are then stripped and sold in the local Japanese meat markets. Whale meat is a delicacy and fetches close to US Dollar 200 a kilo and is a multi billion industry. The Japs are not the only guilty ones. Whaling is carried out by Norway, Canada, Russia and Iceland in varying maeasures.Faroe Islands conducts annual competitions where young boys are encouraged to catch whales as a sign of coming of age.

A few days back there was an incident in Orlando’s Ocean World where the trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was killed after the 30-year-old, 12,300-pound bull orca named Tilikum, jumped out of a tank, grabbed her around the waist and pulled her underwater. Her death is the latest in a string of fatalities involving experienced animal trainers and wildlife experts. I do not blame the whale. In fact, I wonder what made him wait so long. He was patient enough to be performing silly tricks in a confined area for so many years. Sooner or later this was expected to happen. I do not like to visit ocean parks and theme parks that make animals perform to satisfy a perverted side of our thinking. What perverse pleasure do we get in watching them do so? This should be banned internationally. I am grateful that India does not have the capabilities of conducting these aquatic shows and hope it never does. However, in India we mercilessly ill treat animals in other shows including road side ones and it must be discouraged severely and the guilty must be punished.

Let us stop blaming animals when they unleash their fury on us. I wrote about the elephant that died during the shoot of Mani Ratnam’s movie ” Raavan” a few months back. Here is the link for it –

Steve Irwin is said to have been trying to ride on a sting ray when he was killed by it’s barb. Albeit, Steve Irwin has done a lot for animal conservation in and around Australia, I still believe a line has to be drawn between man and his voyeurism with wild life. We must learn to respect their space and they too will learn to respect ours. The minute we trespass into their areas there will be serious repercussions. On all counts the animals are victims. Lets not lament man’s death when he interferes with nature’s imprints.

A look at past incidents –

April 2009: Alexis Martinez Hernandez, 29, a wildlife trainer, fell from a whale and crushed his rib cage at Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife. Park officials said the whale, a 14-year-old named Keto, made an unusual move as the pair rehearsed a stunt in which the whale lifts the trainer and leaps into the air.

October 2009: Anton Turner, a British safari guide, was killed when he was charged down by an elephant during filming of a BBC children’s programme in Tanzania. The 38-year-old had been assisting a television crew in shooting an episode of the CBBC series Serious Explorers, which traces the footsteps of explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Friends described him as “one of the most experienced” people with elephants in the world.

April 2008: Stephan Miller, an American animal trainer and Hollywood stunt double, died after he was mauled by a five-year old grizzly bear named Rocky in San Bernardino, California. The 7ft6ins, 50 stone animal bit Miller once on the back of the neck. Miller, 39, the founder and owner of Predators in Action – a company that trains wild animals for film and television appearances – died almost instantly. Rocky has appeared in the Hollywood movie Semi-Pro starring Will Ferrell.

April 2007: A trainer was killed and more than 20 onlookers injured when an elephant went on the rampage at a ceremonial festival in the south Indian state of Kerala. The man was picked up by the elephant, called Vinayan, using its trunk, and trampled to death.

September 2006: Stephen Irwin, the Australian wildlife expert, died after being fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming on the Great Barrier Reef. Nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter”, Irwin, 44, had become a television personality through a series of nature programmes in which he seemingly brazenly handled crocodiles, snakes and other deadly species.

March 1991: Pamela Orsi, 27, an animal trainer, was trampled to death as she tried to break up a fight between two elephants at San Diego Wild Animal Park, California. She suffered fatal head injuries in the clash of the two Asian elephants, each weighing more than two and a half tons.

How can we help? I urge you not to watch shows which use animals for our entertainment. When the revenues dry up for these shows, the shows too will.


17 Responses to “Free Willy…”

  1. Such a shame that watching whales in the ocean is not enough!

    Why do people lose the ability to coexist with wild animals in their natural habitat? A few years ago a bear lost its way and migrated into the German alps, which used to be bear habitat until all of them were killed in the past.

    One bear in all of Germany! And humans were not able to coexist with it. Hunters spent weeks to track it and finally killed it! Unbelievable.

    Here in the US there are many bears. Too many sometimes, where tourists leave food around.
    About 200m from my house in California mountain lion territory starts. They sleep during the day and we humans don’t roam the woods at night. Problem solved.

  2. I agree completely that sea mammals should be allowed to live a free life in the ocean and should not be used for entertainment for humans. I have one correction to your text though… You write: “Faroe Islands conducts annual competitions where young boys are encouraged to catch whales as a sign of coming of age.” I just want to make you aware of that this is not true. This is a false and exaggerated rumor that has been spread on the internet in later years but it is a hoax and has nothing to do with reality. It’s true that the Faroese kill pilot whales for food and have done so the last 1200 years at least because you can’t grow vegetables on the islands so the islanders have been dependent on what the sea could provide – fish, shellfish, whales and so on. It is a tradition to them in that sense, just like it is a tradition for most people on earth to eat beef from cattle – but it has nothing to do with rituals for young men entering into manhood, competitions, entertainment or anything like that. It is a question of some remote people trying to survive with what ever means they have at hand. Furthermore, Pilot whales are not an endangered species. Actually it is one of the most common whale species on earth. One can argue whether humans should take the right to eat sea mammals like whales or not but it does not help the cause to spread rumors accusing people of senseless acts to infuriate other people on false grounds. (Read all about pilot whaling here: I think we should rather concentrate on what the world has become – how humans have alienated themselves from nature more and more and thus treat animals in a completely unnatural way. Read my blog touching the subject here: – it might be thought-provoking even if you don’t agree with the viewpoint.

    • Elin -Thank you for your comment. Tradition needs to be altered when species are being decimated paving the way for extinction. We cannot wait for animals to reach endangered levels and then alter our habits. Same with chinese medicine that uses tiger entrails, it must be stopped. The chinese were killing tigers from the time tigers were not endangered. Look where we are today.There are petititions doing the rounds to stop the whaling in Norway and I shall check with the PETA website to verify this. Thank you for the link to your blog. I will most certainly read it.

  3. We are already paying a heavy price for disrespecting nature but still refuse to learn from our mistakes. We must learn to live in harmony with our environment or be prepared to face the consequences.

  4. Its really sad that animals that too,those endangered are being used to eliminate human monotony in some form.God has made every creation of his free from any sought of slavery.But we feel we are the only ones who deserve freedom….

  5. The very though of how many species on earth & water have been extincted so far for various reasons is nerve wracking . so be it in the name of research or endangerment to humans or to fulfil the fancies.
    when i see bunch of deers,rabbits,hare,raccoons and mongoose running and playing in my backyard, see a snake of different colour occasionally-which is quite scary as its status of poisonous or nonpoisonous is not that clear then to us and most terrifying is when we see occasionally fox/wolf night time starring from the distance at our backdoor or the windows with his shiny ,fiery eyes during summer and fall. then the though strikes my mind is Are they in our territory or we are the one occupying their territory invading their privacy !? I haven’t been lucky so far to get that answer but it certainly is not a matter to be overlooked.
    when one goes for shopping that charming colors and textures of fancy ,shiny purses and boots made of snake skin and alligator skin lure you to buy them .so did we and enjoyed it very much. In one of my visits to Florida we stopped by to see a gator farm. i still can’t forget that view – how in a small pond they breed, living in like one lives in an overpopulated country, how baby gators been killed to get that smooth skin made me cry literally.since that day i stopped using those kind of products. whether it be a mink or fur coat,leather jackets & skirts or glamorous boots,belts,vanity cases,handbags,shoulder bags & purses.
    wish we respect each others territories and stop hurting them.
    A wild thought- what if one fine day they all collectively gang up on us-humans,attack us,overpower us,take total control in their hands and treat us like some guinea pigs for research purpose or something !

  6. Yep! we sure do have a nicely maintained front & back yards with grace of God. we don’t have mountain lions though!
    thanks for your suggestion Renate. i will try to go through that book to find the answer(if any different than mine)

  7. Monalisa – You have a very sensitive side in you and my respect for you has undoubtedly increased! Well done girl, love the fact you do not indulge in leather or fur products. I have banned them too in my life a long time back and use only Body Shop products which are against animal testing. I think we are in their backyard and i will second it anytime.

  8. Hopefully “Free Willy” mission will be accomplished and will not remain just a debatable issue only.

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