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SeaWorld whales are on ‘psychotropic drugs’

Apr 1, 2014

Dustin Hoffman plays a manic Hollywood producer in “Wag the Dog,” in which he’s always talking a mile a minute about drugs actors used to take in the ’70s, especially benzos. As it turns out, benzos are exactly what the killer whales at Sea World are on. And basically for the same reasons—to coax them into giving good performances.

A new affidavit obtained by BuzzFeed shows that SeaWorld’s killer whales are on benzodiazepines, used in human drugs like Xanax and Valium to chill people the hell out. Presumably they’re used to do the same to the whales so they won’t, y’know, kill people.

“The veterinary records show that orcas at SeaWorld are given psychotropic drugs to stop them from acting aggressively towards each other in the stressful, frustrating conditions in which they’re confined instead of funding the development of coastal sanctuaries – the only humane solution,” Jared Goodman, director of Animal Law at PETA, told BuzzFeed.

A SeaWorld spokesman confirmed that the whales are given drugs, but insisted it’s part of normal veterinary protocol: “Benzodiazepines are sometimes used in veterinary medicine for the care and treatment of animals, both domestic and in a zoological setting,” said SeaWorld’s Fred Jacobs. He added, “The use of benzodiazepines is regulated, and these medications are only prescribed to animals by a veterinarian.”

The news comes after last year’s disturbing documentary “Blackfish,” which details the saga of Tilikum, the SeaWorld whale who’s killed three people, and the conditions in which SeaWorld whales live. The movie makes a pretty convincing argument that the conditions lead to a full-blown psychosis in the whales, making treatment with psychotropic drugs sound about right. Tilikum, the stud of SeaWorld, has his DNA in 54% of SeaWorld’s killer whales.

So the childhood image of stuffed-animal Orcas isn’t quite right—the whales those kids obsess over are stoned out of their minds.

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