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Captive whales are so bored they’re destroying their teeth, and it’s a ‘killer’

GEORGE DVORSKY: ‘An investigation into the oral health of captive orca whales is raising serious concerns about the health and welfare of these majestic creatures. Out of boredom and frustration, many of the whales turn to chewing on concrete and steel tank surfaces, causing wear and tear that leads to further problems. An international team of researchers has completed the first detailed investigation of the dental health of captive orca whales, finding damage in all of the whales studied… Disturbingly, much of the damage observed was self-inflicted—but a likely consequence of orca confinement… The researchers documented two types of teeth damage. “Whales will ‘chew’ on concrete and steel features of their tanks,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, a former SeaWorld trainer and co-author of the new study, in an interview with Gizmodo. “This is a neurotic behavioral ‘stereotypy’ done out of boredom and perhaps to relieve anxiety.” Ventre says this behavior is similar to horses “cribbing” when they chew on the stalls in their barn, or tigers pacing back and forth in their small cages at zoos… For the researchers, the main takeaway of the new study is clear: killer whales are poor candidates for captivity

… The researchers also suspect that the two main stars of the movie Blackfish, Tilikum and Kasatka, died prematurely due, in part to antibiotic resistant pneumonia that was caused by years of antibiotic therapy to treat their teeth, which lowered their immunity and also created super bugs that were resistant to treatment’. SOURCE…

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