Written by PETA
A judge has temporarily ruled that video footage and photographs of the violent killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by Tilly the killer whale will not be made public. The fight over that will rage on, I'm sure. But the autopsy report has been released today, and it makes it very clear that Dawn Brancheau's last moments were filled with tremendous suffering. Despite massive public relations efforts on SeaWorld's part to smooth over the "incident"—i.e., death by killer whale—by characterizing it as "play" that went a bit wrong, the autopsy shows that Tilly was not in the mood for affection.
The six-page report reveals that Brancheau's left arm and part of her scalp were ripped off. She suffered spinal cord injuries, and her ribs as well as bones in her legs, arms, and face were broken. She had bruises and cuts all over her body. And she drowned.
As PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk states, "These were not love bites, but the vented fury of an angry and frustrated being who has been deprived of everything in life: family, friends, freedom—all for the sake of human profit and a few giggles."
The gory details of Dawn Brancheau's death are further evidence that animals who are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them throughout their entire miserable lives in sea parks, circuses, and zoos around the world will continue to attack and kill people whom they see as having a role in the denial of their freedom and family connections.
Whether by writing, tweeting, picketing, getting creative, or (ideally) doing all of the above and more, please help Tilly and the many other animals who are being held in captivity and deprived of everything that is natural to them. And the most important thing that anyone can do to help imprisoned animals is to refuse to patronize marine or other abusement parks.
Written by Karin Bennett
Say you want to take a protest against SeaWorld's mistreatment of captive orca Tilly beyond letters and boycotts. What's a performance artist to do?
Brian Feldman came up with a brilliant action that he's calling "Tilikunundrum": Starting at 6 a.m. tomorrow, he will spend 18 hours in a bathtub at SeaHouse, a private residence in Orlando. Each hour in the tub will represent one of the 18 long years of Tilly's captivity, during which he's been forced to eat, sleep, swim, defecate, and perform in pools that, to an orca, are equivalent in size to a bathtub.
Brian says, "If you think that's wrong, you're right." We say, "Right on!"
You're invited to volunteer at the event—and if you'd like to watch but can't make it in person, the event will be streamed live.
Now that Brian Feldman has shared his caring and clever plan to protest SeaWorld's cruelties, describe the awesome action(s) you'll be orcastrating* on Tilly's behalf.
*Must. Stop. Punning.
Faster than you can say Frau von Hammersmark, actor-director Eli Roth took to Twitter following last month's death of a SeaWorld trainer to speak out against keeping marine mammals in captivity.
The Inglourious Basterds star knows that if SeaWorld continues to exploit and abuse animals, then a sequel to the fatal horror show will inevitably surface. So Roth has written to Hamilton James—the CEO of Blackstone, SeaWorld's parent company—asking that the theme park immediately move its imprisoned animals to coastal sanctuaries and replace them with state-of-the-art virtual reality exhibits.
Having helmed groundbreaking horror films such as Cabin Fever and Hostel, Roth is an expert on humane alternatives to live animals in entertainment—from CGI technology to animatronics. In his letter, he suggests these technologies and lets James know that "showing visitors a more realistic version of what life is like for real marine mammals rather than displaying the captive animals' unnatural and repetitive behavior patterns—which are linked to their oppressive environment—is actually more educational, with no risk to human life."
Join Roth and the many other stars who have spoken out against SeaWorld by urging James to release these jailed animals to sanctuaries before another animal or human dies.
Written by Logan Scherer
Remember Keiko? As you may recall, Keiko was a wild orca who was captured in Iceland in 1979 and sold to a series of aquariums, where he was forced to perform tricks for food. He became sick and severely depressed. In 1993, after the movie Free Willy prompted a call for his retirement, Keiko was moved to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where he was rehabilitated before being transferred to an ocean pen in Iceland. For five healthy years he lived free near wild orcas, hunting and catching his own food. At one point, he navigated more than 1,000 kilometers of open ocean as he made his way to Norway before dying in 2003.
After the tragic death of a trainer at SeaWorld last month, we called on the park to release Tilly and the rest of the animals the corporation keeps penned up in tiny pools. As a result of our plea, we received calls and e-mails from many people who were all wondering: Is it possible to release a captive animal back into his or her natural habitat?
It's a good question, and those with legitimate concerns about captive animals' ability to fend for themselves will probably also ask: Can the risk of failure outweigh the opportunity to experience freedom? And even if there are risks, don't animals deserve some measure of the freedom they've been denied?
Of course, when we talk about releasing the animals at SeaWorld into the wild, they wouldn't simply be dumped into the ocean. The process would be a considerable undertaking, with marine biologists, animal behaviorists, and scientists involved in the animals' rehabilitation.
For those sea animals whose health or behavior has been too compromised by having spent years—or decades—in cramped, chemically treated tanks, there's a humane alternative to outright release. Protected sea pens would allow greater freedom of movement; the ability to see, sense, and communicate with their wild cousins and other ocean animals as well as to feel the tides and waves; and opportunities to engage in natural behavior that they've long been denied. At the same time, caregivers would be able to provide food and other needed care.
SeaWorld may have animal pimp "entertainer" Jack Hanna in its corner, but Tilly has Jean-Michel Cousteau on his side.
The world-renowned French explorer, environmentalist, film producer and, of course, son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau has issued a brief video statement addressing the cruelty and danger of keeping killer whales and dolphins imprisoned in marine amusement parks. Please don't miss this one, folks:
Jean-Michel Cousteau's video contains so many eloquent, logical statements that I had trouble picking just one favorite. Can you?
Another day, another strand unravels from SeaWorld's carefully crafted damage-control campaign in the wake of the tragic death of a trainer at the Orlando park last week. The scandal du jour is that, back in 2007, after a trainer at the San Diego SeaWorld nearly drowned after being dragged underwater by an orca, the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) issued a report concluding that a fatal attack on a SeaWorld trainer was "inevitable" and not a matter of "if" but "when."
But the Cal/OSHA backpedaled on its warning after SeaWorld whined and moaned and claimed that the report was "full of inaccuracies and speculation" and described the staffer who wrote it as "uninformed and reckless." Interesting choice of words: Who's looking reckless now, SeaWorld?
But wait—there's more! According to a former SeaWorld trainer quoted in the Los Angeles Times' blog, Unleashed, because Tilly is a male orca being forced to live in unnaturally close quarters with females in a matriarchal society, he is a fish out of water, so to speak—he has no solid position in the pecking order. As a result, he has to be kept separated from the other whales with gates. In a somewhat cryptically worded statement, the former SeaWorld trainer mentioned that "threat-displays" and "less room to maneuver because of his massive size" have resulted in Tilly's teeth being "broken off." In short, "he doesn't have any viable teeth left." Reading between the lines, we can only wonder if Tilly is so frustrated and maddened by his plight that he has systematically broken off all his own teeth by gnawing on and bashing his head against gates. Wow, aside from that little matter of killing three people, he sounds so happy and well-adjusted, doesn't he?
You can read more about SeaWorld's miserable and short-lived orcas in an essaypenned by Debbie Leahy, PETA's director of captive animal rescue and enforcement, that appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and several other newspapers.
Written by Alisa Mullins
This past weekend's weather may have snowed in New Yorkers and sent Hawaiians running for the hills, but pouring rain in both Orlando and San Diego didn't slow down PETA demonstrators outside SeaWorld amusement parks. Armed with wellies and warnings, they delivered urgent messages about SeaWorld's ticking time bombs.
Experts agree: Whales like Tilly, who grabbed and killed his trainer in front of horrified SeaWorld patrons last week, should not be crammed into tiny tanks and trained to perform tricks for their dinner. These marine mammals are 6 tons of frustration and misery, and it's really only a matter of time before tragedy strikes again. SeaWorld's cruelty to Tilly and other captive orcas is bad enough, but the corporation's refusal to stop cashing in on the whales is also irresponsible and dangerous.
As for me, I've only seen orcas once, and that was from deck of a ferry boat in Seattle. They were leaping out of the Puget Sound, and the whole scene took my breath away. Like anyone else who's ever spotted these magnificent animals living as nature intended, I know that their sad lives at SeaWorld is nothing like it.
"I think they should just shut them all down. I've never been a fan of places like that."—Matt Damon on SeaWorld
This weekend, Damon joined Bob Barker and tons of other stars who are speaking out against SeaWorld after yet another trainer was killed by the imprisoned orca Tilikum.
The only ocean-dwellers we want to see perform? Matt Damon and his Ocean's franchise co-stars. Add your voice to the thousands who have already told SeaWorld to release its animals to sanctuaries immediately.
Written by Logan Scherer
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.