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As the (Sea)World Turns

Written by PETA | March 3, 2010

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?


flickr / CC


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

Commenting is closed.
  • Cindy says:

    This did not surprise me at allthe trainer getting killed. These animals belong in the oceannot in a tank.They are wild animalsno matter how muchtraining these animals get they will snap eventually. Find the DVDDying to Entertain You by Rattle the Cage Productions.Tells the story of the 1970? roundup of the Orcas in the Pacific NWwho got them?SeaWorld and MiamiSea Aquarium! The lone survivorLolita at the Miami Seaquaruim. My brother and his wife went to SeaWorldOrlando and telling me how wonderful the dolphinorca shows were.I told him to watch the Dying to Entertain You DVD for the REAL story of the parks and by buying their tickets they were helping to exploit more dolphinsorcas. They have’nt gone back to SeaWorld since VICTORY!!


    ITS 2010 and HUMANS HAVEN’T EVOLVED YET STILL BARBARIC CREATURES without any consideration for their neighbors or their creatures. SLAVERY still exists just go to SEA WORLD AND your local ZOO. Its pathetic to say the least SEA WORLD is the tip of the iceberg Parents must be educated first before they take their kids to SEA WORLD. 47 million americans are illiterate. EDUCATION FIRST then the Whales might have a shot of freedom. The foundation is rotten and murky.

  • rachelle says:

    this is heartbreaking to hear. it is not acceptable to me for an animal to suffer for my entertainment. i can look at pictures of them i don’t need to see them in a marine park to appreciate them.

  • kasi says:

    I am very surprised that no one has taken action to free these animals before. My heart goes out the the trainers loved ones. But does it really take someone to die for action to be taken? They are wild animals and big ones. Hey lets go train some sharks to do flips! Yeah same idea and not a good one.

  • lou lou. says:

    To be honest sea world is a profitable park and all they probably really care about is the money. Don’t they see though that this isn’t natural!!!! I was looking a pictures of a down facing veiw of the tanks that the whales are kept in and to be truely honest it’s pathetic for the size they are they are enormous animals that need to be in the wild. No matter what is said I’l always think this they are killer whales i mean what do you expect them to do. free tilly and all the rest of the animals

  • Christine Guerriero says:

    Sheer ignorance and greed. Grandchildren or not I will not go back there. I also witnessed another cruelty there. They have a stand where you can buy a live oyster and they give you the pearl inside. The worker ripped it open dug out then pearl and then neatly squashed the oyster under her thumb. I was observing and when they ripped that shell open that oyster was struggling. I was dumbstruck! They do this all day.

  • Shelly says:

    Why is it that people are surprised when a killer whale well… kills? I’m embarrassed to admit that I visited Sea World many years ago under the false belief that they SeaWorld were a conservation group. Just like Ringling this organization enslaves animals for profit and hides under the blanket of “helping”. The fact that someone at SeaWorld answered when asked if the show should continue “These shows help people understand marine life..” clearly shows the true motive. When is the last time you witnessed a whale in the wild playing with a ball and doing tricks with a human? The only good that could come from this senseless tragedy is to generate enough public awareness to force SeaWorld to close.

  • David says:

    No animal should ever be taken from the wild so that the upright ape can gawp at it thru glass or fence. Free ALL the Sea World captives world wide and then CLOSE DOWN.

  • Shirley says:

    while all God’s creatures should be allowed to live their lives as He intended is there anything being done to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Japan as depicted in the movie “The Cove”. Perhaps if a large group showed up outside the Oscars on Sunday and got TV exposure the Japanese will have to deal with it…and if responsible America sees it perhaps they will stop buying Japanese products until something is done.

  • John says:

    “described the staffer who wrote it as “uninformed and reckless.” Animal abusers will ALWAYS smear whistleblowers and their honesty. It is up to our government to stand firm against abuse for greed and NOT BACK DOWN. We need to demand that our government represent safety and laws and not give in to profiteers.

  • James says:

    The collective eyes of the world are slowly being opened to what truly matters. Thanks to all of you who are making your voices heard.

  • Laura says:

    so sad it makes me sick…tilly is obviously suffering…seaworld doesnt care about that its all about money! how cruel and unfair!

  • Hayley says:

    Alison TOTALLY agree. Right now with SeaWorld money humanity and ethics. OMG what is happening to Lolita makes my heart break. I cannot believe the size of her “pool.” That tank is ILLEGAL!! While what has happened to Tilly is horrible Lolita needs to get out of that tank ASAP. Activitsts have said that the money medicine transportation and new home for her are ready! But the Miami Aquarium will not budge. What horrible people. Free these whales!! ALL OF THEM.

  • MPoccia says:

    Turn him loose and let whatever happens happen. I think he would rather know freedom for a short while in his life than to spend anymore of it in what amounts to a bathtub. I would rather hear that there is going to be an ORCA FRY held to raise money to free the rest of the orcas….than to hear that Seaworld and other places like it continue to “circus” these animals…and breed them for more money making entertainers. This trainer surely loved these animals and perhaps she will not have died in vain. Her untimely death may result in the end of the inhumane treatment and captivity of these splendid creatures.

  • Kelley says:

    This was a wonderfully written essay. The comments posted by readers after the essay shows that more and more people are willing to start considering the resposnibilty we have to animals whose lives we have destroyed.

  • Alison says:

    There are ways of getting him rehabilitated… they could release him and keep him confined to certain areas of the Pacific to ensure his safety… it’s just the money hungry aquarium owners that can’t stand to loose their waterfront property and fancy cars. If you think this is sad you should check out the story about Lolita in the Miami SeaQuarium… now THAT is a tragic story… they stole her right from her home…

  • Rad_Rosa89 says:

    Why can’t they see what they are doing to these amazing animals?! They need to open their eyes and see!

  • Johanna says:

    I feel so bad for Tilly. Even if they do release him back into the wild he won’t survive. His teeth and dorsal fin are too damaged to guarantee him safety in the wild.

  • Terra says:

    This story breaks my heart. Though I am sympathetic to the loved ones and their loss. My heart goes out to Tilly! Animals kept in captivity will snap. This isn’t their natural habitat! I know Sea World claims to rescue these animals and yet they put them on display when they have been cared for instead of releasing them back to where they belong. It’s just not right!