“Born To Be Wild” movie has been a success. Narrated by Morgan Freeman it follows a journey of orphaned animals, orangutans and elephants and rescues who care for them. The trailer opens with a line: “We’ve shared this planet since the dawn of men. As our world expands into theirs more and more wild animals loose their families. And their very existence on Earth is in danger. Follow two extraordinary people who have devoted their lives to rescuing and nurturing these orphans”
If we are about to make a similar movie about orphaned baby whales it would open like this: “We’ve shared this planet since the dawn of men. As our world expands into theirs more and more wild animals loose their families. And their very existence on Earth is in danger. We can do nothing for baby whales and dolphins, so we kill them in the most inhumane and brutal way. Make sure your children are not watching this as we have nothing positive to show you, only horror, suffering, pain and death”.
We believe that stranded baby whales are not a statistic and you need to know about their individual story to become outraged and actually try to do something about it. Everybody by now probably forgot about little minke whale orphan that stranded on January 25 at the Cape Lookout in North Carolina. Baby whale stranded during the peak of military activity in the area. He was a very cute little whale, and naturally he was euthanized but they made sure his head is intact. Perhaps the reason for such quick decision was the fact that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s graduate student Maya Yamato needed a fresh minke whale head. She studies hearing in baleen whales and fresh heads of the whales are hard to come by. So the lifeless head of our cute baby minke ended up on a cold necropsy table at the Woods Hole. Interestingly, Ms. Yamato studies are naturally funded by the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Navy. So not only it is quite possible that the initial stranding had something to do with the Navy, but the baby was killed so the Navy funded graduate student can study whale’s hearing so the Navy can determine how loud their sonar could be before whale’s ears rupture. So here you go, make a movie about this.
Whale and dolphins orphans are killed all over the world. Apart from a gray whale baby rescue in the USA in 1997 nobody bothers to even try to figure out what to do with orphans.
There are no extraordinary people to step up and stop the killings. Sea Shepherd volunteers risk their lives to stop the killing of a minke whale in Japan, but when a helpless baby minke is euthanized in North Carolina or convulsing baby humpback is dragged by the tail in Australia nobody blinks an eye and everybody prefers to look the other way.
Here are just some examples for you:
1. Baby sperm whale killed in Australia
2. Two humpback whale calves shot in a head in South Africa
And the list goes on and on. So where is an outrage? Protests? ?Petitions? Anything?
So why baby elephants and orangutans are rescued, nurtured and released but baby whales and dolphins are not? When an orphan strands there is usually some self-important official at the scene that rationalizes the massacre and gives the following information to the media and weeping members of the public:
1. Whales are too young, need mom for survival
2. Whales are too big, no place to put them
3. We have not done anything like rescuing a baby whale before
In a nutshell, these are your reasons for euthanasia. But can they really withstand a close examination?
1. Whales are too young, need mom for survival. True but so do human orphans, elephant orphans, fox orphans, orangutans orphans, and basically all orphans with probably exception of turtles. However this fact has never stopped any wildlife rescues nor it automatically translated into euthanizing a human child because he lost his mom.
2. Whales are too big, no place to put them. True, but haven’t we seen SeaWorlds all over the world housing and dealing with huge killer whales? Sea World has been not only housing large whales, but also transporting them and shipping (!) them all over the world. So not only it is possible, they have well established methodology how to deal with logistics of keeping large whales. Besides, nobody is proposing to keep a sperm whale or minke until he is a full grown adult. Rescue and rehab is a temporarily thing, get them in, get them better, get them grow and let them out.
3. We have not done anything like rescuing a baby whale before. It happened at least once before. Besides everything has to start with no previous experience, all wildlife rescues have been at this point. There was first elephant orphan and first baby orangutan orphan.
So what is the deal then? Two things: Money and lack of will. These are two reasons why we are killing stranded baby whales. And do not believe anyone who says otherwise. But any wildlife rescue or orphanage operates because some people care and donate. Yes, whale orphanage will be like nothing we have seen before. Well, it will be like a SeaWorld but without shows, corporate profit and trainers. And whales will be released eventually.
Only the public can change that. Please give baby whales a chance, start conversation, question authorities, start protesting and forming live chains to stop euthanasia. Please start pressuring your country officials and rescues to develop a plan for orphans. What happens today is unacceptable and cruel.