As the (Sea)World Turns
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