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SeaWorld SanDiego 68472997Shamu show at SeaWorld San Diego / Irina Silvestrova. Shutterstock

SeaWorld Paints Orcas Black 

Former SeaWorld trainers reveal the use of black-tainted sunscreen to cover up sunburned skin of captive orcas 

Former SeaWorld orca trainers told the online conservation magazine The Dodo that they had applied black zinc oxide, a sunscreen lotion that is not only used to protect the whales' skin from sunburns but also to hide existing burns and blistering skin, when they worked at the amusement park.  

The former staff also reported that the orca's skin usually had already been burned when they applied the substance. 

'Zinc oxide is a way to paint over burns - like a mechanical coat - usually on dorsal surface of the animal. It’s also for aesthetic reasons, to hide blistering peeling skin,' Jeffrey Ventre, a former orca trainer at SeaWorld Orlando told The Dodo

Another former trainer at the park, Carol Ray, said one orca's skin peeled off when she applied the lotion. 

Wild orcas spend the vast majority of their time in water deep enough to escape harmful UV rays, while captive animals are unable to find shelter from direct sunlight in their shallow pools. 

SeaWorld San Diego aerialAn aerial view of SeaWorld San Diego / Google Maps satellite view

The animal welfare group PETA promptly filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stating that the lack of sufficient shelter from direct sunlight was a violation of the Animal Welfare Act. The complaint asks that USDA investigates the matter urgently and ensures SeaWorld provides sheltered areas in compliance with the AWA regulations.  

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