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OSHA Finds SeaWorld at Fault in Trainer’s Death

Written by PETA | August 23, 2010

An investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into the “death by orca” of trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando has resulted in three citations against the marine park for safety violations, including willfully exposing employees to life-threatening hazards when interacting with orcas. OSHA assessed SeaWorld with the maximum penalty—a $75,000 fine.

According to OSHA regional administrator Cindy Coe, “SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals.” She added, “Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges, and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals.”

The citations are all the more noteworthy considering the fact that SeaWorld tried to sway OSHA’s findings and attempted to thwart the investigation at every turn, according to a former staffer, who also says that SeaWorld withheld documents from OSHA and refused to allow inspectors to talk with trainers. OSHA was also pressured by a Florida politician who was worried about losing those SeaWorld dollars that fill the state’s coffers.

In the wake of the report, PETA is renewing our call for the release of all the orcas at SeaWorld to seaside rehabilitation pens.

“[T]he only thing that will prevent misery and death in the future is for SeaWorld to stop capturing and confining wild marine mammals and to let these orcas go,” said PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “The list of human beings—Keltie Byrne, Alex Martinez, Ken Peters, Steve Aibel, and Dawn Brancheau—who have been killed or maimed by captive killer whales, and the list of orca families torn apart by SeaWorld’s greed, will only otherwise grow.”

PETA is also calling on Florida Governor Charlie Crist to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate SeaWorld’s actions. We hope you’ll write to the governor, too—and whatever you do, never go within a country nautical mile of a SeaWorld park.

Written by Alisa Mullins

Commenting is closed.
  • Shabnam says:

    Stop animal cruelty please.Stop animal abuse .they have right to live free without pain .

  • Jacklivia Huebsch says:

    I am doing a report on dawn brancheau and i have to say i have not looked at animals in captivity the same way. I used to love SeaWorld parks and actually belived they were doing something good, but not anymore. The thing you have to remember is that these animals are still wild, and will act as they did in the ocean. SeaWorld shoud not be capturing animals for the fun of it, and they certinaly not be making them do tricks like they are right now, like circus and animals! Rehab!! Tricks are not rehab! SeaWorld needs to be stopped, and I plan to do something about it. I will never look at these abusement parks or animals in captivity the same way again. That you PETA for saving me before i got sucked into that dasturdly park. Jacklivia Huebsch 10 years old United States

  • Jacklivia Huebsch says:

    I am doing a report on dawn. I never thought that this would be a bad thing, captivity and all, but the more I learn the more I am drawn away from the fact that it is cool to see these things. The thing you have to remember with captivity is that these animals natural instinks are to protect themselves, and their wild rage can come out any time. I really think SeaWorld should stop with all the meaningless captivity and actually make an effort to help animals and humans, not hurt them. I will never look at abusement parks the same way again. Thanks PETA. Jacklivia Huebsch 10 years old United States

  • Katlyn P says:

    We as humans need to fix this troubled fantasy of ours to veiw wild animals in captivity. It would make one upset to know just how aware theme parks such as this of these facts. I wonder if they ever lose sleep over this kind of thing? THEY. SHOULD.

  • giovanna gramignano says:

    che SeaWorld lasci libere le orchequesto il momento!

  • Kellie Schuring says:

    Do yourself a favour and read Alexandra Morton’s book “Listening To Whales What The Orcas Have Taught Us”. You’ll NEVER look at captive whales the same way again! These are wild creatures with complex family structures. Put yourself in their place just for a moment and you’ll see how desperately sad and unnecessary it is for them to remain in captivity. Kellie Schuring Brisbane Australia.

  • Leonardo Marsola says:

    Animals are animals NOT humans…Please let them be !! Stop all kind of shows with animals….Thank you Peta for having an eye on animal cruelty.2

  • Liliana Oviedo says:

    Animals are animals NOT humans…Please let them be !! Stop all kind of shows with animals….Thank you Peta for having an eye on animal cruelty.

  • Rebecca says:

    It breaks my heart to see animals in cages amusement parks and zoos. They don’t belong in those environments. I understand when there are programs in place to help provide animals time to heal or a santuary for a second life when they are unable to survive in their natural environment birds that can no longer fly and so on. However we should be doing all we can to protect them and their natural environment.

  • Jasmine Chen says:

    what is this obsession of having animals doing tricks?????????????? animals have feelings. does anyone not get that????????????????

  • S.Narayanan says:

    Wild animals belong in the wild and must not be used in these circuses. Had no idea that this was a cruel practice until PETA pointed it out. Will no longer patronize these “shows”. Thank you



  • chander kumar soni says:

    thanks PETA.

  • Mrs. Lois Koch says:

    After all this time we are STILL having trouble in treating these creatures with the respect they are due REALLY too bad!

  • CJ says:

    Thank you Peta for shining the light on orgs like SeaWorld that exploit animals for profit! Until we step up the protesting and people quit spending their money on Seaworld circuses etc. unfortunately this will continue. Society will be judged how it treats its animals!

  • Melanie says:

    NB Nair. I see your point.. but who are we to say that humans are the most intelligent creation on this planet? We don’t know that and it is probably not true. Humans think that just because we can build rockets that go into space and big machines that do pointless things we are the rulers of the universe. Humans are nothing but selfish and absolutely naive to the real problems in the world. Animals seem to be the most intelligent ones.. they don’t go around killing us for sport so why do we do it to them? It’s absolutely disgusting and I hope one day humans get a clue and realise this is wrong.

  • Cait cochrane says:

    It is heartening to hear so much opposition to the horrendous attitude towards these exquisite marine mammals. The Cove highlighted the grotesque and barbaric abuse that some people have towards dolphins. The Grind has been normalised in the Faroe Islands and shocks so many of us. Springer was successfully reintroduced into the wild. Luna due to his humanisation tragically died. These captive animals must be so traumatised and then to have the intelligence belittled and patronised. I support any call to free all of these wonderful creatures.

  • seth says:

    i still want to be a killer whale trainer. the whales in captivity will never make it out in the wild plus killer whales are hunted. seaworld is actually doing a good thing. i’m not saying everything they do is good but in a way they are saving killer whales

  • Nicholas says:

    Animals should not be used for entertainment.

  • Joel says:

    Steve says “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” to argue that orcas should continue to be imprisoned at SeaWorld. So that means the “need” for humans to amuse themselves by watching trained orcas perform for them outweighs the need for orcas to live in their natural habitat? Hate to disappoint you Steve but your amusement no matter how memorable for you is not a “need” it is a desire. Sort that out before you exploit your way through life.

  • Vanessa says:

    Let’s help safe the animals. They’re worth it.

  • Kendra G. Madden says:

    With humans in increasingly dangerous situations and the growing restlessness in captivity it is time to stop removing the animals from their natural habitats to please only us. While they will be missed in the “family outings” and all not having them on display would only mean that they are happily living their lives out where they are supposed to.

  • susan says:

    Capture and Condeming is killing our wildlife!!!!

  • Lisa Scharin says:

    What Hannah wrote is very true! It is also quite disturbing to realize that children don’t know where chicken meat comes from!! Scary! Perhaps in health class or biology class children should be taught these basic things and shown where their food comes from how it is “made” and delivered to the supermarket etc. It would revolutionized generations into eating healthier plantbased diets raise huamanity issues and certainly help the health and wellbeing of millions of animals as well as the planet! There is NO excuse for humans to continue to consume so much meat! Products like Amy’s Organics MorningStar Boca Burgers etc. are wonderful alternatives and yummier than rotting dead flesh anyday!

  • Margaret Morton says:

    Seaworld make me sick keeping orca and other dolphins in captivity. Please release them into coastal sanctuaries and where possible back into the ocean where they belong.

  • mike schwartz says:

    These beautiful creatures are meant to live in their natural habitat..the Ocean… Please keep that in mind for the future. And as for the creatures we have already taken from their natural habitat we must be careful and give deep thought as to how to release them andor set up conservatories for them as it may be dangerous to the the animal to go directly back to it’s natural living spaces.. We NEED to rethink how and what we do…with Nature and it’s beautiful creatures…

  • DWAYNE KING says: