Written by PETA
three of SeaWorld's
brought out more skeletons from the marine park's closet. Attorneys for the
government brought up incident after incident that were left out of SeaWorld's corporate incident
log, including the attack
leading to trainer Dawn
Brancheau's death and attacks by an orca who had a penchant for grabbing trainers'
ponytails. Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld's corporate curator of zoological
operations, eventually conceded that SeaWorld "may have missed a few"
Abi Skipp | cc by 2.0
court watched graphic video
footage from 2006, in which an orca named Kasatka (who had been involved in
nine previous incidents) clamped down on trainer Ken Peters' foot and dragged
him underwater at SeaWorld in San Diego. People in the courtroom gasped as they
watched video of Kasatka
as he yanked Peters around and
held him underwater for minutes at a time. Peters repeatedly struggled to free
himself from Kasatka's jaws and was finally able to calm the orca and escape
with a broken foot. Tompkins conceded that no level of knowledge, experience,
or skill would have enabled Peters to escape the attack unscathed: His only options
were serious injury or death.
Tompkins previously testified that there is no need to revise SeaWorld's animal
training procedures because all injuries that occur are because of human error,
he acknowledged on Wednesday that even the most senior trainers have made
errors resulting in injuries and that, often, trainers were not to blame for
the incidents. Tompkins continued to prove that SeaWorld management is
delusional, claiming that they "have gotten a whole lot better" with
the training process over time, despite, as attorneys for the government noted,
the fact that two trainers were killed over a span of only two months in 2009
and 2010 and that the 2006 attack on Peters was nearly fatal.
Tompkins' failure to
acknowledge these dangers can be explained by the fact that neither he nor the other
high-level managers of animal training at SeaWorld are formally trained in
animal behavior, nor do they have any professional experience with orcas other
that what they learned on the job at SeaWorld. In addition, the company has
never called on an independent third party to review its incidents, protocols, or
back tomorrow for an update on Thursday's testimony.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
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