Tilukim, Orcas And Freedom by Rick London

What is it about whales and dolphins?  I’m sixty-one and as an aging boomer was brought up like most other aging boomers, to believe cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc.) were happy campers in tanks/pools.

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“Can’t you see them smiling, Rick?”  Why would a ten year old question the sage advice of ones parents?  If I’d known then what I know now, I’d be questioning quite a bit more.  But c’est la vie.

Fortunately my parent’s distancing and eventual abandonment of me, eventually led me to the love of domestic animals and later wildlife and nature and now all of the above.    Meeting my wife Lee reinforced that love of nature and wildlife and we explore everything together.  One couldn’t ask for more. I thank God daily.

I’ve thought about them and created cartoons about them long before they re-evolved into the news.  Seaworld’s “pride and joy” Tilikum, a bull orca, is dying.  He was their prize catch back in the early 80s. He’s weighed 12.5 thousand pounds. More than half the orcas now at Florida’s Seaworld share his genes. Imagine how much money that saved them in pursuing more.  They became a “puppy farm” so to speak, being every bit as much in the orca breeding business as in cruel entertainment.  

And though my beloved wife Lee and I live on the ledge of a National Park/Forest, it is very easy to forget when one lives inland, in the mountains as we do, that Orcas and dolphins are every bit as wild as the creatures we have grown to love in our forest.

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Cetaceans must live in the wild.  In their case it is the ocean.  That is for numerous reasons.  A few but surely not even close to all are their need to swim for miles (sometimes 30-50 per day).  Another is that they communicate via very high pitch shrill sounds.  When communicating in a tank/pool, that sound echoes off the concrete walls, driving each of them insane.  So when they kill or injure a trainer, it is not because they are vicious animals, it is because they are tortured and in terrible pain.  The type attacks do not occur in the wild. In fact, quite the opposite.

Though I’ve done my share of reading, given my Autism, I don’t always retain it. However, my patient beloved wife Lee, has a way of explaining it to where it is not slanted, but simply independently researched (and double independently researched facts).

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That is one reason I have taken it on as a personal cause. Without going into detail, I experienced narcissistic torture as a child well into adulthood.  Without the help of 29 years of therapy and my wonderful wife Lee, I am not sure I could have gotten past “those dark ages”.

I hereby offer a percentage of all my orca gifts in my RickLondonGifts.com/LTCartoons.com line to benefit cetacean captivity.   And I won’t stop in my lifetime until/unless Orca/Dolphin captivity prisons such as Seaworld et al close their doors.

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Rick London is a writer, musician, designer and cartoonist, environmentalist and animal activist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from a metal shed in rural Ms in 1997.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) who is a nature photographer and designer and owner of the popular nature/wildlife blog Hike Our Planet.  To see Rick’s orca gifts whose sales benefit orca causes visit his Orca Store.

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Orca Captivity The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

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From The Londons Times Cartoons “Story Behind The Cartoon” Series 

All who know me know I love animals.  I’ve loved them since I was a young child.  And not just cats and dogs but animals living in the wild.  I spent a great deal of time outdoors in my youth, and that love of the outdoors and nature never left me.  

I’m fascinated with how nature works and continue learning about it, and the animals who are a great part of it, and I learn something new every day.

But just being there and observing is not enough. I grew up near the Ms. Gulf Coast and watched cetaceans such as dolphins and sperm whales merrily swim the beautiful waters. And though I don’t believe we had Orcas, I always imagined what kind of wonderful time they had in the wild.  After all most of these creatures swim between 30-100 miles a day just for minimal health. 

I still remember in my youth hearing about Seaworld and other such cetacean captivity environments and never could get answers as to why that was allowed to happen.  After all, these creatures communicate with a loud shrill sound, and such sounds bouncing off concrete walls seemed it would be aggravating. I would later learn it drives them insane, depressed, and suicidal.

I decided to research on my own (animal sciences) and sure enough Seaworld and other such wild animal prisons are truly nothing more than torture prisons.  I felt powerless to do anything, however.  I wrote letters to them and they would politely write back that they treated their animals with the utmost of care (yada yada yada).  I knew better. 

When I learned that I had “cartoons in me”, I decided I would do a series of Orca and dolphin cartoons which I’ve done and will continue to do.  And though that is just a drop in the bucket as far as letting Seaworld and others know they are running archaic businesses that need to be closed, every little bit helps. 

When such places opened 1/2 century ago, they were useful.  They were created to show people and allow them to observe sea creatures they would otherwise never see.  

However animal science has shown that such captivity is cruel and unusual punishment and these creatures are extremely intelligent and desperately need to live in the wild.  Seaworld has decided to ignore that science for the sake of profits. 

In addition, there are plenty of other venues now that don’t harm the animals in which people can observe and study them in their true habitat.   The entire “mission statement” of Seaworld and others like it is obsolete.  

I will be running more Orca and dolphin cartoons over the years and tweeting and mailing them to Seaworld.  Chances are they will not do a lot of good….on their own.  But if enough people send letters, cartoons, drawings, pleas, etc., finally they will have to listen.  Already their stock is plummeting.  That is a start.  It is just a matter of time before they are out of business.

The question is, will they go gracefully (its almost too late for that) but there’s still a small timeline, or will they go out of business kicking and screaming with a legacy of cruelty and obscene torture?   Only time will tell.   

Meantime, here’s a good chance to laugh at their latest tv commercial created to “change our minds” about them.  Didn’t work for me. Did it you? 

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London aka Lee Hiller who is a popular nature and wildlife photographer as well as gift designer.