Backing up claims made by Linda Simons, SeaWorld’s former head of safety, Michelle Dillard, a former human resources director at SeaWorld, has come forward to report that the marine park attempted to block an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into the death of Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca named Tilikum in February. (OSHA found SeaWorld to be “willfully” at fault in connection with Brancheau’s death and fined the park $75,000.)
“I personally witnessed [the SeaWorld Management team] outright lying to OSHA, using intentional delay tactics to stonewall the investigation and, behind closed doors, revealing an inflexible and obstinate refusal to be forthcoming and accommodating toward OSHA,” wrote Dillard in a statement to OSHA that was obtained by The Huffington Post.
Dillard, who resigned in July because of what she says were unbearable working conditions, also alleged that her former boss, SeaWorld’s vice president of human resources, “hid documents, pretended to not know that documents existed and obstructed OSHA’s investigation.” She says she came forward because of SeaWorld’s retaliation against Simons, who was fired two months after the attack.
Dillard’s allegations are a timely reminder to keep the pressure on SeaWorld to “retire” Tilikum and all the other dolphins at SeaWorld facilities to coastal sanctuaries.
Written by Alisa Mullins