I was very heartened to read Patricia Guthrie’s article about the possibility of the orca whale Tokitae being released from her many years of captivity.
I was disturbed, however, by the article’s repeated reference to Tokitae as a “killer whale.” This is a scary and misleading label. As large mammals, orcas do feed on smaller mammals, but they are no more “killers” than other large mammals, like lions, tigers, wolves, eagles, etc.
We don’t call these animals “killer lions” or “killer tigers or “killer wolves.”
So let’s just call Tokitae and her kind “whales,” knowing that how they survive is by feeding on smaller living creatures as all carnivores do, including human beings.
We just might not want to go swimming with them.
Editor’s note: Killer whale is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as an acceptable term for orca.