Written by PETA
After its request
to dismiss the OSHA case against it was rejected, SeaWorld called its first
witness, Jenny Mairot, the supervisor of animal
training at the Orlando park. Mairot started at SeaWorld a year after
graduating from high school and has never received formal training as an animal
behaviorist or trainer outside the organization. Despite being Dawn Brancheau's
partner at the time of her death, Mairot testified cheerfully, laughing loudly
and often during her testimony.
Tilikum—the orca who killed Brancheau (and two others)—as "the most
congenial, easygoing, and predictable" of the three adult male orcas she
has worked with. She called Brancheau's death "tragic, but it was not
unpredictable" and said that SeaWorld employees "were well aware of
what would happen if someone fell into the pool with [Tilikum]."
stressed that SeaWorld turned a blind eye to safety and allowed its trainers to
be in harm's way just for show by "writing incident reports, sending them
around, and patting themselves on the back."
trainer Alexis Martinez's death on "layers of
mistakes" and said that when she watches video footage of the incident, "Keto
[the whale who killed Martinez] wasn't even that bad." She stressed that the
trainers at Loro Parque are "raw" and that the orcas are all young
males. Mairot failed to note that Loro Parque staffers were trained by SeaWorld
trainers and that the orcas were all provided for and placed in the facility by
SeaWorld. SeaWorld Orlando trainers stopped water work for only a single day
after Martinez's death, and no substantive changes were made to their protocols.
The next witness,
Kelly Flaherty Clark, is the curator of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando.
Flaherty Clark agreed with Mairot that the trainers were at fault for Martinez's
death. Flaherty Clark lamented
the fact that non-SeaWorld staffers were allowed to review incident reports
since they don't understand "our craft." When asked who incident
reports were meant for, Flaherty-Clark replied, "Certainly not a lawyer or
More to come.
by Jennifer O'Connor
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