Troubles at Six Flags

The Vallejo amusement park has received numerous warnings related to its treatment of cetaceans.


January 14: The US Department of Agriculture, which regulates animal parks, cites Six Flags for rusted parts on the medical pool in the cetacean marine research center.


November 10: The USDA cites Six Flags for a number of violations in the marine tanks.

1. Pool Needed Barriers: According to the USDA, the park needs to make larger barriers between the bleachers and the tank at “Shouka Stadium,” where Shouka the orca was being kept with two dolphins. “Additional physical barriers … should be provided to protect the animals.”

2. No Shade: The USDA tells the park to build a shade screen over the back of Shouka Stadium, where there isn’t enough refuge from the sun for the orca or two dolphins. “Prolonged direct sunlight exposure can adversely affect the health and wellbeing of the animals,” the report states.

A later report, dated the same day, removed the following item from the original report (this report, however, did not state why the item had been removed).

3. Swim with Dolphins: The USDA tells the park that it needs to stop overbooking its Swim with Dolphins program. The law says that the limit for such programs is three humans to one dolphin. Facility representatives reported that the park has been allowing four humans to one dolphin.


May 13: The USDA cites Six Flags for a number of violations in and around the marine tanks.

1. Killer Whale Alone: The report notes that Shouka doesn’t have a companion of her own kind, as the law requires for animals to be able to socialize. The park was using a dolphin — kept in a separate, adjacent tank — as a companion at the time for Shouka. The USDA flagged the situation for review by its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

2. Dirty Tank, Not Enough Water: Inspectors said the marine research center tank where a baby dolphin was living had algae and feces in it that needed to be cleaned out better. A leak was also causing the pool to have less water than it was supposed to.

3. No Shade: Inspectors tell park administrators that two pools in the back area of the Dolphin Discovery exhibit and three pools in back of Shouka Stadium do not offer the shade needed for the animals to escape harsh sunlight.

4. Exposed Electrical Wires: Inspectors tell the park to fix a rusting electrical box and exposed electrical wires near the back of a dolphin tank because they could cause shorts and electrocute people or dolphins.

5. Peeling Paint: Inspectors notice peeling paint near the back of the Dolphin Discovery stage and said it had to be fixed to keep it from getting into the tanks and being eaten by the dolphins.


January 28: The USDA cites Six Flags for a number of violations in and around the marine tanks.

1. Killer Whale Alone: “The Killer Whale is housed alone. This is a social species and needs to be housed with at least one other compatible animal for their mental health and well being,” the report stated.

2. No Shade: Inspectors say that both the orca pools behind the main stadium and the dolphin medical research center pool don’t have shade and needed some to be built. “The lack of shade creates potential eye problems in the marine mammals. It is necessary for the well being of the animal to minimize glare, etc. Shade should always be available,” the report states.

3. Food Hygiene: Inspectors noticed that fish for the orca was being left in sinks to thaw, which they said increased the risk or contamination and could lead to “sick or dead animals.”

Public records were provided by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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