SeaWorld called accusations it bred “Jurassic World”-style orcas a wild fish tale, according to reports.

The denial follows claims from former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove the theme park bred subspecies of killer whales that you would never meet in the wild, he told The Sun

Hargrove spent 20 years working at SeaWorld and played a prominent role in he 2013 documentary Blackfish,” which explored a series of deaths caused by Tilikum — one of the park’s most famed captive orca.

SeaWorld has denied claims that it created hybrid “Jurassic Park”-like orcas.
Trainers have Orca killer whales perform for the crowd during a show at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego, California
Trainers have Orca killer whales perform for the crowd during a show at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego, California.

He told the newspaper that it was like “Jurassic World,” a reference to this summer’s blockbuster film featuring “hybrid dinosaurs.”

“That is exactly what we did at SeaWorld,” Hargrove said. “[…]The main takeaway with creating a hybrid orca is that you truly have no idea what you’ve created because they don’t exist in nature. So all things are possible,” he told the paper.

He said the plan to create super-sized whales was hatched in an effort to boost attendance at its theme parks.

SeaWorld denied Hargrove’s claims.

“There is nothing new in these claims. The wild characterizations from this former employee – who has not worked at SeaWorld in any capacity for 10 years – are designed to get clicks, not communicate facts or science,” a SeaWorld rep told Newsweek.

The theme park ended its orca breeding program in March 2016.

This image released by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment shows Mosasaurus in a scene from "Jurassic World Dominion," co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Hargrove likened SeaWorld’s orca breeding program to “Jurassic World,” which is build on the premise of creating hybrid dinosaurs.

“SeaWorld is independently accredited, reviewed, and certified by both federal wildlife agencies and independent third-party experts to uphold the highest standards of animal care,” the rep said. “Much of what the world knows about killer whales today is because of what has been learned through nearly 60 years of care and study of orcas in accredited zoological facilities such as SeaWorld. “

The company did not return requests for comment to The Post.

SeaWorld’s captive killer whales have been a controversial topic among animal rights activists for years. At SeaWorld, the orcas performed in theatrical shows until 2017.

 In this March 7, 2011 file photo, killer whale Tilikum, right, watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break during a training session at the theme park's Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla
Tillikum, the captive SeaWorld orca that fatally attacked three people.

Four people have been killed by whales at the park. Tilikum, who lived at SeaWorld’s Orlando-based park, was responsible for three of them.

In “Blackfish,” Hargrove and other former trainers spoke out about how captive orcas suffer psychological damage and trauma, leading to aggression. An outspoken advocate, Hargrove also wrote a book called “Beneath the Surface,” which detailed his time at the park and how he believed it was unsafe it was to keep the whales in captivity.

SeaWorld has previously denied Hargrove’s claims, adding that in 2015, the trainer left his job after he was disciplined for a safety violation.

Visitors to SeaWorld Orlando are met by PETA activists protesting the theme park's treatment of killer whales and dolphins as the attraction reopens after closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic on June 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida, USA.
PETA activists protesting the SeaWorld’s treatment of killer whales and dolphins at its Orlando, Fla. location.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Meanwhile, animal welfare groups continue to scrutinize SeaWorld and other places that keep orcas in captivity.


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Tyler Cowan