4 Wild Animals Who Can Never Spend Mother’s Day with Their Moms Again
People love animals and animals love their families. When our love for animals means they are torn away from their families for our enjoyment, we need to show our love differently.
In the wild, animals form strong relationships with their babies. Female African elephants, for example, stay with their mothers their entire lives. Male orcas leave their pods only to mate and then return, while females stay with their pods for life. Scientists believe that female orcas live past reproductive age to continue helping their grown sons find food and fight off predators (sounds like my mom and brother, to be honest!).
Both elephants and orcas are suffering in entertainment venues around the world because caretakers routinely take them away from their mothers.
Lolita, or Tokitae as she’s also called, is the sole orca living at the Miami Seaquarium. She was cruelly captured from the wild at the age of 4 in the largest orca capture in US history. Forced to live in the smallest orca tank in North America, Lolita has been held captive for nearly 50 years and hasn’t seen a single other orca since her tankmate, Hugo, died in 1980 after repeatedly smashing his head into the walls of his tank in frustration.
A member of the now critically endangered Southern Resident orca population, Ocean Sun (L25), is the oldest living whale in the Southern Resident community. Ocean Sun is believed to be Lolita’s mother and is more than 85 years old. She will spend Mother’s Day swimming 3,500 miles away from her daughter in the wild—where she belongs.
Jumbo (called 'Dumbo' to visitors), an elephant calf at a Thai zoo, was continuously forced to perform circus tricks for entertainment. In this industry, elephant calves are routinely torn from their mothers’ sides and endure cruel training called “the crush”, which involves being tied tightly down and beaten with sharp weapons like bullhooks for days on end. This is meant to instill fear and dominance over them, so they respond to the trainer’s commands.
Because Jumbo was seen as nothing more than a commodity, the zoo didn’t notice or provide medical care to an emaciated animal suffering from an infection in his digestive tract. This infection left him so weak, his legs snapped beneath him and he wasn’t given proper veterinary care for days. After finally being taken to an animal hospital, Jumbo died three days later.
One of the most heartbreaking stories in the documentary Blackfish was former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove’s story of separating Takara from her mother, Kasatka.
In an article on NPR, Hargrove detailed the heartbreaking situation:
[Kasatka] was emitting vocalizations that had never been heard before ever by anyone. They brought in one of their own SeaWorld researchers ... she analyzed those vocals and determined that they were long-range vocals and ... because obviously Takara was gone and [Kasatka] was trying anything she could to try to locate and communicate with Takara, which is absolutely heartbreaking. Those vocalizations continued on for a long time.
In the wild, Kasatka and Takara would have spent their entire lives together. Takara’s calf, Kohana, was also separated from her mother and now lives at a theme park in Spain. Kasatka passed away in 2017, never seeing Takara again.
Captured from the cove in Taiji, Honey the dolphin was brutally separated from her wild mother and taken into captivity to live by herself in a barren tank. One of the most famous captive dolphins, Honey made headlines after the zoo she was living in left her and 46 penguins to fend for themselves.
Although rescue efforts were underway, Honey died in her tank in March of 2020.
Help Us Protect Wild Animal Moms
Every day, thousands of wild animals are poached or farmed and sold into the global multibillion-dollar trade – for food, for pets, for traditional medicine, and for entertainment. The horrific conditions they face are causing much suffering for every animal involved.
By ending our support of the global wildlife trade, we can ensure that wild animals are no longer suffering for our benefit. Help us protect animals today by demanding world leaders take action and ban the global trade of wild animals.