Seals in Captivity
It is no secret that seals are in captivity, and in such an environment all of their daily needs are met. They have plenty of water to swim in, land to rest on, and others to enjoy social interactions with. Seals in captivity never have to hunt for food so they don’t suffer from a lack of it like many in the wild do. Instead they are fed on a regular schedule which helps to ensure that their basic needs are met. Yet many wonder if there is a trade off for such benefits?
It is important to mention that most seals in captivity would have died if left in the wild. Therefore they aren’t just plucked from their natural environment one day and then in captivity for the rest of their lives. Many of them were in jeopardy due to their environment, being abandoned by a mother, or some other threat that would have likely ended their life too soon.
Almost all seals in captivity will remain there for the duration of their life. This is because studies show if they have been in captivity for a year or longer that they don’t adjust back to the wild very well at all. Therefore it is carefully evaluated before one is brought in to captivity. There are guidelines out there that must be followed as well.
Most of the time though a new seal brought into captivity will blend in nicely with the others in the group. Seals seem to be very accepting of outsiders to their group which is very different from other animals. It can take a new seal in captivity a couple of years though before it will engage in breeding efforts. It is believed this is due to the changes in the environment. It is hard to tell though as many of the seals in captivity are in that status before they are mature enough to mate.
The life span of seals in captivity can increase by more than a decade. This is why some of those species that are vulnerable are in such locations right now. With the right conditions it is hoped they will be able to breed and for the offspring to have higher rates of survival than they would in the wild.
However, in captivity many seals end up with parasites, viruses, and other illnesses that can kill them. This occurs in the wild too but there seems to be a problem with keeping such problems out of areas where they are in captivity. Therefore such problems have to be closely monitored. There is also the issue that seals need large groups to feel calm and safe. This is a natural instinct so many have to be in captivity or they won’t eat or breed normally due to the additional stress.
Researchers believe that seals in captivity have behaviors that are altered from what they would be in the wild. However, they also agree that they seem to adapt very well and they have a good life while in captivity. Many of the top efforts such as those by Sea World allow them to have an environment that is very similar to what they would have in the wild. In addition, they have access to health care that helps them to get passed injuries and sicknesses that would have killed them in the wild.
There are many advocate groups out there that oppose seals being in captivity though. They feel that they should spend their time and efforts to protect the natural environments of these animals. They also feel more needs to be done to limit pollution in the water and the air that the seals are around. In the mean time though there will continue to be seals in captivity. You can find them at some zoos as well as marine facilities.