7.23.14 — A trainer at SeaWorld Orlando flushes Kayla’s drilled teeth before a One Ocean show. This is done to prevent an infection. The two pictures of Kayla’s mouth were taken on the same day as the video.
Captive killer whales often chew on concrete surfaces and metal gates to relieve stress or boredom, which can cause teeth to become broken and fractured. In an attempt to prevent this, SeaWorld will “flatten,” “grind,” and even drill holes (pulpotomy) into the teeth using power tools. With enough positive reinforcement, killer whales are subjected to this painful and uncomfortable procedure.
A former SeaWorld trainer said: “The whales are conditioned to ‘accept’ the noise, heat, vibration and obvious pain associated with drilling vertically through the tooth column and into the fleshy pulp below. Success is measured by blood spilling out of the hole, in which case it’s apparent the bore is complete.”
Because the pulp gets exposed to food and the environment, infections can occur if the teeth are not flushed routinely with an antiseptic, multiple times per day.
In 1991, Kayla’s own mother, Kenau, began treatment for an infected tooth two weeks prior to her death caused by Hemorrhagic Bacterial Pneumonia. Both 17-year-old Kenau and her fetus perished, orphaning Kayla.
In 2010, Kalina, the “original baby Shamu,” died from Acute Bacterial Septicemia, which may likely be attributed to having five teeth drilled and four pulled. She was only 25.
3-year-old Makaio at SeaWorld Orlando already has holes in his teeth.
This is what SeaWorld calls “superior dental care.”
Wild, fish-eating killer whales would never have teeth worn as much as those in captivity. In fact, they swallow food whole; they do not chew it. Older offshore ecotype individuals that prey on sharks sometimes have worn teeth—teeth are not worn down to the gums—from many years of grasping and shredding sandpaper-like shark skin. No killer whales at SeaWorld (or in captivity) are fed shark.