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Wild Animal Watch Contest Sharon Banta | Kathleen D'Aquila & Julia Perri | Laura DeSantis | Ariella Grinberg
In the grades 2-5 category, the winning essay was by Laura DeSantis. Here's what she had to say:

I think that it's unfair to keep marine animals in captivity even if humans want to do tests on them. If they are beached or sick, I think it is okay to keep them in captivity until they are well. Then, they should be put back into the wild. But they don't! They keep them! That's when the trouble starts! If you take a wild orca out of its pod and into captivity, you disrupt the whole pod and its mother who stay with it for all of its life. That's terrible! Some orcas die of shock from the experience and some die slowly from pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through its blow holes. Others commit suicide from so much stress. Sometimes, captured dolphins get killed because they deliberately crash into the side of the tank over and over again.

Some marine animals become blind from the chlorine and chemicals; while others swim with their eyes closed. Also, some marine mammals' skin peels off. Putting them in captivity creates psychological torture. Some whales have killed their trainers while they were in captivity. Once, two orcas dragged their trainer all the way down to the bottom of the tank apparently trying to drown him. Another time, a trainer was killed by three orcas after he fell in the water with them.

In the wild, male orcas live to be 50 to 60 years old and females 80 to 90. But, in captivity, it shortens their life span as much as 43 years! It seems like they're happy in captivity, and they do tricks that are wonderful, but you don't think about what's behind all this. A world of torture for marine mammals!

Laura DeSantis

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