Written by PETA
Backing up claims made by Linda Simons, SeaWorld's former head of safety, Michelle Dillard, a former human resources director at SeaWorld, has come forward to report that the marine park attempted to block an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into the death of Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca named Tilikum in February. (OSHA found SeaWorld to be "willfully" at fault in connection with Brancheau's death and fined the park $75,000.)
"I personally witnessed [the SeaWorld Management team] outright lying to OSHA, using intentional delay tactics to stonewall the investigation and, behind closed doors, revealing an inflexible and obstinate refusal to be forthcoming and accommodating toward OSHA," wrote Dillard in a statement to OSHA that was obtained by The Huffington Post.
Dillard, who resigned in July because of what she says were unbearable working conditions, also alleged that her former boss, SeaWorld's vice president of human resources, "hid documents, pretended to not know that documents existed and obstructed OSHA's investigation." She says she came forward because of SeaWorld's retaliation against Simons, who was fired two months after the attack.
Dillard's allegations are a timely reminder to keep the pressure on SeaWorld to "retire" Tilikum and all the other dolphins at SeaWorld facilities to coastal sanctuaries.
Via The Huffington Post
Written by Alisa Mullins
Linda Simons, SeaWorld's former safety chief, told PETA that she was fired from her job after she cooperated with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation into the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was battered to death by an orca named Tilikum, aka Tilly.
We linked Simons up with Good Morning America and she told them about the "Tilly Talk," the orientation that SeaWorld staffers get about the dangers of working with orcas. According to Simons, staffers were told that if a person were to go into the water with Tilly, the person would "come out a corpse." She also said that only a couple of weeks before Brancheau's death, the park held a practice drill on how to handle an orca incident, and the standard critique of the drill was not even completed because the drill had failed so badly.
Simons claims that SeaWorld withheld documents from OSHA investigators and blocked interviews with trainers—interviews that might have been critical in assessing blame.
SeaWorld has a history of bullying authorities into sweeping bad press under the rug. Following a 2006 attack by an orca on a trainer at SeaWorld in San Diego, the California division of OSHA concluded that it was "only a matter of time" before someone was killed, but the agency withdrew its findings after being blasted by pressure from SeaWorld.
OSHA's report should be out later today and is likely to find that SeaWorld was negligent—despite influence from SeaWorld and a shameless U.S. representative from Florida.
Please join PETA in calling on Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute SeaWorld for the involuntary manslaughter of Dawn Brancheau.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
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