Jane Goodall Says SeaWorld Should Be Closed Down

Jane Goodall is calling for the closure of SeaWorld.

The 81-year-old is the latest animal activist to denounce the popular tourist attraction for its treatment of dolphins and orcas, also known as killer whales.

"They definitely should be closed down," Goodall said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Goodall is primarily known for her work with chimpanzees and says that no whales or dolphins should live their lives in captivity.

SeaWorld has been under fire since the critical documentary Blackfish aired in theaters in the summer 2013 that documented the torture whales endure when they are confined in a tank. Because whales and dolphins communicate with sonar-like sound waves, when they are forced to live in a tank, the waves bounce off the walls, creating an "acoustical hell." SeaWorld immediately saw a drastic drop in customers, and with that, their stock prices declined as well.

"When they are contained in these tanks … that is acoustical hell," said Goodall, who also noted that it is unsafe for trainers to work with stressed out whales. "The sounds bounce back from the walls of the tank."

SeaWorld has refuted the claims made in Blackfish and tweeted a link on Tuesday that stated that they had been working with bio-acoustics experts to make sure their animals are not harmed.

"Our underwater noise levels are quieter than the ambient ocean," SeaWorld said. "And those above water sounds don't transfer underwater. So, based on these studies, we are confident the sounds in our environment are not detrimental to the animal's wellbeing."

The Florida-based marine park also acknowledged that Goodall probably had not been properly informed about the research that has been done regarding dolphins and whales that are kept in zoos.

"Jane Goodall is a respected scientist and advocate for the world's primates, but we couldn't disagree more with her on this," Becca Bides, a SeaWorld spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "Zoos and marine mammal parks like SeaWorld allow people to experience animals in a way that is inspiring and educational."

Goodall says she hopes that humans will become more empathetic for the marine animals that are being held in captivity.

"It's not only that they're really big, highly intelligent and social animals so that the capture and confinement in itself is cruel," she said of the orcas, but she also explained that "they have emotions like ours."

[Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]