For Lewis & Clark students, the ethics behind keeping our beloved pet orca who resides in our on campus reflecting pool have become a hot button issue.
While the orca has brought countless smiles to the students of LC, the ethics behind the small reflecting pool being a big enough space for our dear pet are being questioned. In the wild, orcas swim upwards of a hundred miles a day while in comparison, our small reflecting pool does not allow much wiggle room.
The orca, given the name Shamu after a student’s mother, has recently been spotted with dorsal fin droop. This is a clear indicator of the animal’s deteriorating health which has prompted some to believe Shamu may be happier somewhere he has more room to swim, such as the ocean.
The task of caring for Shamu has fallen to freshmen as a New Student Orientation (NSO) bonding activity. Each NSO group is responsible for feeding Shamu on a rotation basis. This process involves heading to the reflecting pool and using a long stick with a hook to feed Shamu fish from afar. This practice has also come into question, due to the propensity of the first years to attempt to push one another into the pool, causing an average of 2 fatalities per year.
Orcas need plenty of exercise and a proper diet to be able to fully mature into big strong adults. Since the reflecting pool does not allow for much exercise, administrators are beginning to question if it is in the whale’s best interest to continue to live in the small pool. Solutions such as flooding the ravine or moving the orca to the swimming pool and having the swim team practice in the reflecting pool instead have been proposed.
Either way, something must be done. Shamu’s increase in stress is correlating to an increase in kills, with 18 students eaten this semester, a 20% increase over last fall. However, students still seem supportive of keeping Shamu right where he is.
“I love Shamu,” Ethan Beluga ‘25 said. “He ate my roommate, so now I have a dingle.”
The removal of the orca would cause the school to have to stop hosting the Whale Training major, and would also result in a sharp decrease in LC cadaver donations to OHSU.
The debate surrounding Shamu gained renewed attention after LC began hosting public shows, in which people can come and watch Shamu perform a variety of circus-like tricks. Apparently, LC has been struggling with monetary issues despite the high cost of attendance, and so they saw these whale shows as a new source of revenue.
While the issue is still up for debate, it is possible that Shamu may not be living his best life in the small concrete pool on LCs campus. Administration has already considered replacing Shamu with a new animal, such as a Great White Shark.