Tilly's Willy: In the Name of Science?

Sea World employees have sex with a killer whale.

Posted Apr 16, 2011

For years I've been writing about various aspects of animal behavior, focussing more recently on their emotional and moral lives, conservation strategies, and the horrific ways in which animals in captivity are treated.

In February 2010 I wrote about Tilikum (AKA TIlly), a wild-caught killer whale who attacked and killed a trainer at Sea World. This wasn't the first time Tilly had killed a human. Tilly had been taken from his pod at about 2 years of age in 1983. Now, 28 years later, Tilly is back on display and continues to be a very successful stud, used in the same way that puppies in a puppy mill are used to make more dogs. In effect, Tilly is part of a profit-motivated "whale mill" the result of which is to produce more whales who will languish and be abused in captivity, for entertaining humans by performing stupid tricks.

While the confinement of Tilly and other Orcas (and many other animals) in and of itself is as regrettable, demeaning, and disrespectful as can be, I just learned that humans go into the water to play with Tilly's willy so that he produces semen (see also). I was shocked. How could I not know this, as I've been studying and writing about animals for decades? While some people from Sea World deny that this is done, former Sea World scientist, John Hall, disagrees as do others who have worked at this aquarium. And you can watch the process in this video as humans casually engage in what could be called whale whacking. Great, get a job working with whales kept in prison and then pleasure them purportedly "in the name of science" but really in the "name of money." Captive whales such as Tilly make no contribution to useful knowledge about his species despite the spurious claims that captive animals educate people and increase their contributions to conservation efforts.

Did you know this happened? I wonder what the people who play with Tilly tell their friends what they do for a living. Perhaps something like "Well, you know, I'm helping conserve orcas by -- you know -- by helping him -- by helping him -- hmm -- by helping him make more orcas who'll spend their lives in a small cage, tormented and bored out of their amazing minds, and perhaps go crazy just like him."

Are you as surprised as I was?

Please write to Sea World (a form for emailing them is here) and ask them to stop this practice now! Surely we don't need any more captive orcas. Leave Tilly's willy alone! Free his willy.