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From Inside the SeaWorld Hearings: Part 2

Written by PETA | September 21, 2011

On day two of SeaWorld’s appeal of the penalty leveled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), senior trainer Lynne Schaber testified that trainers who work with orcas receive special instruction on Tilikum and a “Tilly Talk,” in which they’re informed of Tilikum’s involvement with two previous deaths and that if they enter the water with him, they may not survive. Despite these concerns, trainers—including Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by Tilikum last year—were approved to work in close proximity with this angry orca and physically touch him at the water’s edge. 

Schaber and Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld‘s corporate curator for zoological operations for all SeaWorld parks, also testified that there are no specific steps for trainers to follow to respond to a life-threatening situation in the water and that their lives are ultimately up to their own “best judgment call.” Tompkins admitted that the park does not even re-evaluate its protocols after an injury or death because it deems the injuries that occur “a result of human error” and insisted that revising safety protocols is unnecessary.

Finally, the government began questioning Tompkins at length about SeaWorld’s corporate incident log, which contains reports of more than 100 incidents of orca aggression at its parks, often resulting in injuries to humans and causing one death by extensive internal bleeding.

Stay tuned.

In the wild, orcas swim up to 100 miles per day.



Written by Jennifer O’Connor

Commenting is closed.
  • Erika D says:

    I think people or trainers or seaworld may be missing a few important key elements, number one element being overlooked is all of the major recorded agresive behaviors from these captive Orca are from males all of the agressive trainer deaths have involved a male Orca. Male Orca tend to be more possesive which is what often leads to trainer drownings. Understanding that much of the enrichment that Orcas get inh captivity are in working with the trainers I side with the idea that it would have negative consequence to keep the Orcas in captivity and not allow trainers to work with them but I think that extra precaution needs to be taken when ever a male orca is in the water- no trainer should be with in grasp of the male orcas- I do not see issue with trainers doing water work with female Orcas as long as the Orca is being respected and responded to if the Female Orca is showing that she is no longer interested in training or adgitated then the trainers need to leave her alone(which is generally how it goes, but with the males trainers did not read these signs soon enough). I understand that once the Orca has been in captivity there is no viable option of turning them loose in the wild due to a number of factors being that they have already had to close of contact with humans and often turn to humans for food and refuse to feed themselves when the attempt to release them has been attempted before. I think it is odd that this has not been identified thus far that the major risk is in getting in the water with male Orcas, males have a different disposition which can be more dangerous but with any animal of this magnitude there is a risk no matter what you do when having them in captivity it is an accepted risk. I still believe there should be larger living spaces with more natural or interactive settings.

  • kathy says:

    How can an orca not be enraged at living in a swimming pool instead of the ocean? These mammals have tremendous restraint.

  • Ashley says:

    I don’t know how this circus can still claim that it is educational when it so misrepresents these animals. They are intelligent predators with a complex social structure, while these stupid shows portray them as dumb, friendly clowns who love people. A fragile land mammal like a human who is completely out of their element in water compared to a killer whale should never have the chance to be in the water with these animals. Seaworld also misrepresents the dangers of Tillikum by claiming that the trainer in b.c. died of hypothermia because she was not wearing a wet suit when that was not the case. That and so many other lies have been brought to light by many former trainers.

  • Kelleigh says:

    Who can blame Tilly for being so angry when he is confined to a small pool when he should be out swimming freely hundreds of miles a day? I would be too!