Update: While SeaWorld’s hearing is in recess, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk is giving the park some great reasons to use the time to evaluate how to get out of the captive-animal business. Read what she has to say here.
The following was posted September 24, 2011
SeaWorld’s appeal has been adjourned until November, but on Friday, Dr. David Duffus—who had served as the foreperson of the coroner’s inquest into the death of trainer Keltie Byrne after she was pulled into the water and drowned by Tilikum and two other orcas in 1991—again took the stand. Dr. Duffus testified that no method of training can control orca behavior and that current safety measures aren’t effective. “Twenty years later, a lot has been done, yet I’m reading the same outcome,” he said. Dr. Duffus added that given his knowledge of orcas and the incidents involving the animals in captivity, there was “no way on Earth” that he would place himself in immediate contact with Tilikum, nor would he get close to any other orca because of his “great deal of respect for the fundamental nature of large predators.”
The final witness called before the hearing was adjourned until mid-November was Les Grove, area director of the Tampa office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which conducted the investigation into Dawn Brancheau’s death and issued the citation at issue in this case. Asked why SeaWorld was cited for a “willful” violation—which entails an employer’s “plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health”—Grove mentioned the “Tilly Talk,” the 100-plus incidents that have occurred at SeaWorld parks, interviews with management, and training manuals that show the company was aware that working in close contact with orcas was risky. During the investigation, he added, “It became obvious Tilikum wasn’t the only problem.”
We’ll give you further updates when the appeal resumes in November, but for the orcas, the other dolphins, and the people endangered by SeaWorld’s indifference, there’s no time to lose—tell SeaWorld today that the place for these amazing animals is in a sanctuary, not doing stupid tricks for tourists.
Written by Jeff Mackey