Los Angeles CEO Commits $1 Million to Orca Sanctuary for Tilikum Release

LOS ANGELES — Sea World recently agreed to end captive breeding of its killer whales, which is a major concession to critics and animal welfare groups for the park. But a CEO in Los Angeles says the animals should have a sanctuary of their own and he's willing to put $1 million toward it.

Steve Dunn is the CEO of Munchkin, an international company that makes baby products. But his company goes behind just making toys, it plans to inspire a whole generation to invest in animal welfare.

“Teaching our future generations to care for animals is the first step to also learning how to care for others, be sensitive to others,” said Dunn.

The CEO hopes to teach that lesson by committing $1 million to an orca sanctuary if SeaWorld agrees to free one of its most famous animals: Tilikum. Dunn was inspired after learning about the orca in the documentary Blackfish.

"I was really, really disturbed about these beautiful, majestic, intelligent orcas being really held captive in nothing bigger than a large swimming pool,” said Dunn.

Dunn sprang into action several months later when he had an MRI and was confined to a very small space. He immediately thought of orcas trapped in small pools.

“Orcas swim up to 100 miles a day and they go dive up to 600 feet. I came back and told my staff we need to do something to support the orcas,” said Dunn.

Munchkin is doing that through its "Orcas Live In Oceans" campaign and by pulling orca toys from one of its top-selling bath collections. Although SeaWorld has not released Tilikum, the park agreed to stop breeding killer whales in captivity last week.

"We think that's a great first step but they need to end breeding of all whales - beluga whales, seals and dolphins. The real rightful place for these animals is in ocean sanctuaries,” said Dunn.

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Munchkin is currently looking for a new sanctuary location. To learn more about the cause, visit www.munchkin.com or follow #OrcasLiveinOceans on social media.

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