John Hargrove and Jeffery Venter, two former SeaWorld trainers, claim that whales in marine parks were drugged so they could be encouraged to perform at shows.
Both trainers have swum with orcas throughout their careers.
The trainers used to work at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park, the marine park authorities have denied the claims that were made by the trainers.
In a report that was published by “The Sun”, the two trainers claimed that the whales were drugged with Valium so they could be calmed down.
The two trainers claim that Valium was used to calm the animals, who sometimes have an aggressive behavior because they were deprived of food.
55-year-old Jeffrey Ventre, who worked at the Park in 1987, said that he noticed the whales grind their teeth and pop their jaws.
When whales grind their teeth, this means they are stressed.
Jeffrey said that whales at the park would even chew concrete out of boredom and would scratch each other with their teeth.
Ventre added, “There was a lot of self-mutilation. Jaw popping was regularly seen – it’s a threat display between two orcas. The job is more akin to a stunt man or clown performing with captive animals using food deprivation as a motivator.”
The 55-year-old trainer also claims that dolphins and orcas got stomach ulcers sometimes, which were mainly caused by stress.
But the most intriguing part about the claims that were made by the trainer is when the whales got aggressive.
Ventre said that whales that are aggressive and hard to control were giver Valium so they could be calmed.
Hargrove, a trainer at the park who resigned 7 years ago, said that whales were being medicated at the theme park.
Mr. Hargrove added, “I worked with some whales that were on medication every day of their life and have personally watched whales die at very young ages from the disease.”
Throughout the career of Hargrove, he said that he has been involved in 10 aggression incidents.
Mr. Hargrove was held by killer whales underwater in the 10 incidents.
In 2010, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau, a colleague of Mr. Hargrove, was killed by a whale named Tillikum.
Dawn was grabbed by the whale by her ponytail.
The death of Dawn was witnessed by 50 shocked tourists, her autopsy revealed that her ribs, cervical vertebra, and jawbone were fractured and her spinal cord got separated in the attack.
The left arm of Dawn was also ripped in the attack, and her knee and left elbow got dislocated too.
Tilikum, the whale, died in 2017 when it was 36-years-old, the whale spends most of his life in captivity.
In 1992, a part-time trainer was killed after she accidentally slipped into the pool where two female orcas and Tilikum were being kept at.
In 1999, a naked man who managed to sneak into the SeaWorld was found dead the next morning in a breeding tank of Tilikum.
Ventre said that the officials of the park told them to lie about the injuries the whales sustained during the abuse.
SeaWorld released a statement about the claims of the two trainers.
A spokesperson said, “These are many of the same tired, false and misleading claims uninformed activists and disgruntled former employees have been repeating for years.”
“Our animal welfare practices are accredited and reviewed by organizations such as American Humane, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, so any notion that SeaWorld abuses animals are categorically false. The fact is, no one does more to protect marine mammals and advance cetacean research, rescue, and conservation than the more than 1,000 dedicated animal care experts at SeaWorld.”