Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is angry — really angry — about the way Shamu is being treated at SeaWorld.
In a letter to SeaWorld Orlando, Lee complains about the methods used by the theme park to obtain sperm from Tillikum – the orca responsible for the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau this spring.
Tillikum was brought to SeaWorld Orlando specifically for breeding purposes in 1998. He continues to appear in Shamu shows there and to be used in killer whale breeding programs.
PETA, an organization which Lee has long supported, has called for the whale’s release back into the wild.
Lee calls Tillikum SeaWorld’s “chief sperm bank.”
“We know from SeaWorld’s own director of safety (as well as videos on the web) that the way you get his sperm is by having someone get into the pool and masturbate him with a cow’s vagina filled with hot water,” Lee wrote in the letter obtained by TMZ.
“Even in my wildest days with Motley Crue, I never could’ve imagined something so sick and twisted.”
As bizarre as it may sound, manual stimulation of animals is a regular breeding method used by zoos and aquariums for certain species.
Thomas French’s 2010 book Zoo Story documents the manual stimulation of a bull elephant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to obtain the sperm used to impregnate a female elephant at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.
UPDATE: SeaWorld Orlando has responded to the breeding methods mentioned in Lee’s letter, and they say he’s got it all wrong.
Fred Jacobs, vice president of communications for SeaWorld told E! News that 25 of the 27 orca calves born at the theme park were conceived naturally, and the process of collecting semen for the two calves born through artificial insemination is similar to that used in breeding livestock or in programs at zoos.
Lee “contends that semen is collected from Tilikum using a ‘cow’s vagina filled with hot water.’ This is beyond ludicrous. Whatever his views on SeaWorld, Mr. Lee would be wise to spend more time checking his facts,” Jacobs said.
[Image credit: Flickr user Hyku]