The Distorted Truths of John Stossel’s… “Green Tyranny”

Many of you may not be familiar with John Stossel, that’s probably because he works for Fox News (sic) and you prefer to get your facts from journalistic news sources.

This coming Sunday, June 14th, Fox is airing a made for TV special called: Green Tyranny, the premise being that animal welfare activists and specifically the film Blackfish, have distorted the truth about Sea world and its practices.

Mr. Stossel says: “I don’t presume to know if it’s moral to keep animals in captivity. But I do know that the activists distort the truth.”

I came across this article written by John Stossel that advertises his upcoming TV special. The same distortion of truths that he vilifies in Blackfish is, ironically, replete throughout his writing.

I can’t decide if John Stossel is:

A. Gullible
B. An owner of deflated Sea World stock.
C. Sensationalizing a controversial topic to gain viewers.
D. All of the above.

Here are a few examples:

Stossel: “I asked SeaWorld why they separate whales from their mothers.” “We haven’t done that in 35 years,” says Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld head trainer. “We have no plans to do it again, and the film (Blackfish) implies that we’re doing it yesterday.

SeaWorld’s curator of zoological operations, Chuck Tompkins had stated to Fresh Air, NPR:

We’ve never moved a calf from a mom. … A calf is an animal young enough who is still dependent on the mom, still nursing with the mom, and still requires the mom’s leadership … We think they’re probably dependent [at] 4 to 5 years. After that, they start to gain their independence.

Given that males remain with their mothers for life; a fact that Sea World doesn’t acknowledge on their website; though, they do admit that the calves are born in the water , There are six instances in the list below that clearly contradict Tompkins statement.

Here are some of the early separations of children from their mothers at Sea World, within the last 25 years, not Flaherty Clarks: “We haven’t done that in 35 years.”

CAPTIVE BORN (still alive)

F – Kayla- SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 5 months in 1992 (23 years ago)
M – Keet – SW -separated from mother at 1 year, 8 months in 1994 (21 years ago)
M – Trua – SW -separated from mother when he was 3 years, 2 months in 2009 (6 years ago)
M – Tuar – SW -separated from mother at 4 years, 10 months in 2004 (11 years ago)
F – Unna – SW -separated from mother at 6 years in 2002 (13 years ago)

CAPTIVE BORN (deceased)

F – Halyn – SW -separated from mother immediately due to mother’s rejection (Oct. 2005)
F – Kalina – SW -separated from mother at 4 years, 4 mos in 1990. (25 years ago)
F – Katerina – SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 5 months in 1991. (24 years ago)
M – Splash (Katak) – SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 6 months in 1992. (23 years ago)
M – Sumar – SW -separated from mother at 10 months old in 1999. (16 years ago)

(Statistics from

Another glaring example of distortion told by Stossel is: “Blackfish also claims captive whales’ droopy dorsal fins indicate that the whales are miserable. But whale expert Ingrid Visser says killer whales in the wild have collapsed dorsal fins, too.”

What Blackfish says is that it’s miserable to see killer whales with a dorsal fin in such an unnatural, pathetic looking state. It’s a visible statement on the physical impact that captivity has on their body.

While Stossel is correct when he writes that Dr. Visser knows of killer whales in the wild with drooped dorsal fins, known as dorsal collapse, Dr. Ingrid Visser’s research was focused on a specific population of killer whales in the waters off New Zealand. This population group that showed an unusually high percentage (~23%) of damaged/collapsed dorsal fins. In all other populations that have been studied, the percentage of killer whales with dorsal collapse ranges from: .57% observed in Norway, to 4.7% for the Southern Resident killer whales, though the total  rate of collapse among the killer whales observed in British Columbia, Canada averages at 1%.

At Sea World, 100% of their males have dorsal collapse.

But this fact doesn’t serve Stossel’s purpose and he prefers to promote Sea Worlds half-truths and distortions of fact.

Another glaring distortion from Stossel is: “Finally, Blackfish claims that captive whales die young. But Dold (SW Vet. Chris Dold) points out, “We have a 50-year-old whale living at SeaWorld… Our whales’ life parameters are the same as whales in the wild. Government research confirms this.”

Sea Worlds web site describes killer whale longevity as being: “When factored in at birth, the average life expectancy of southern and northern resident killer whales is about 29 years for females and 17 years for males.”

A quick reference to the NOAA Fisheries “government” web site and page on killer whale lifespans reads:

Lifespan: Up to 50-100 years:

– males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years.
– females typically live about 50 years, but can live as long as 100 years.

“J2”,also known as “Granny”, is a well-known female member of J pod; of the Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, , Granny is estimated to be 104 years of age. More than double what Sea Worlds claim as the average lifespan of a female of the southern resident killer whales”.

It’s obvious that John Stossel had no intention of making an objective verification of the facts as presented by Sea World. From the very start his intent was to make a controversial television presentation that took an opposite opinion from what is now mainstream thinking; that killer whales should not be in captivity.

You may be curious to view Stossel’s “Green Tyranny” on Sunday night but if I can offer some advice… don’t bother.

All you will be seeing is a TV personality, desperate for ratings and eagerly lip-syncing whatever Sea World hucksters as its truth.

So, unless you have a strong stomach and the firm self-control not to throw something at your TV…

The less viewers of Stossel’s Green Tyranny… all the better.

  1. Paul

    June 15, 2015 - 1:51 am

    you have been drinking the green cool aid dude. Live and let live. Don’t tell me or anybody else how to live.

  2. Joseph

    June 15, 2015 - 5:44 pm

    It was such a disgrace to watch that. A disgusting attempt at ‘journalism’. The part about the glass bottles was laughable. Clearly we don’t recycle glass to conserve sand. All of his comments were so clearly biased and uneducated . Fox News should be forced to remove News from it’s name. The majority of it is asinine TV hosts that interrupt people every 2 seconds and refuse to allow anyones view but their own. Fox is a disgrace to all that is American journalism.

  3. Ed

    June 15, 2015 - 8:47 pm

    This is totally different then a Hollywood movie personality desperate to get there movie shown.

  4. Jim Light

    June 16, 2015 - 4:57 pm

    Visser’s research included damaged and injured dorsal fins as well as collapsed dorsal fins. If you read her research paper and her rebuke of SeaWorld distortions, you will find only one orca had a completely collapsed dorsal fin in her study. So the incidence in the New Zealand population is far less than 23%.

  5. Sue

    August 9, 2015 - 1:00 am

    There was no explanation a to. The condition of mother or calf being separated. Was the calf or mother injured or sick? Was there another reason??? Happens all the time in nature. I would have like to know more.

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