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