The Kinder Killer Whale

From Issue: Discovery 1/1/2001

Yes, orcas are fearsome predators that have been equipped with all the right tools for killing, but that does not suggest that killer whales are bad or mean. In fact, killer whales can be captured, tamed, and trained to do all sorts of neat tricks. Maybe you have been to Sea World in Orlando, Florida and watched Shamu the killer whale do tricks like jumping out of the water to ring a bell or taking her trainer for a ride on her back. Killer whales and their trainers form close bonds, much like a family does with a good housedog. Some of trainers trust the whales so much that they are willing to stick their heads inside the whales’ mouths without fear of getting bitten. Imagine looking around inside the mouth of a killer whale at all those long, sharp teeth. Trainers really must trust their whales!

Even though killer whales are smart and can learn special tricks, they do not reproduce very often or effectively. Almost half of all the baby areas born in the wild and in captivity die before ever reaching adulthood. A female killer whale only has one calf every three to five years. That is why September 2, 1985 is such an important date in orca history. It was on that date that baby Shamu was born at Sea World in Orlando. She was the first killer whale successfully born and raised in a zoo­ like environment. Since that date, 13 orca calves have been born and raised at Sea World facilities. That is an amazing feat, considering how difficult and rare a live calf is to raise. But once the killer whale reaches adulthood, it can live to be 100 years old!

In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve to ”be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and sub­ due it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Why can a 150-pound man teach a 10,000-pound whale hew to ring bells and perform tricks? Because God created man higher than all the animals and gave him the ability to “subdue” them and have “dominion” over them. Man, unlike any other creature on Earth, is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).


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