Linda Simons, SeaWorld’s former safety chief, told PETA that she was fired from her job after she cooperated with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation into the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was battered to death by an orca named Tilikum, aka Tilly.
We linked Simons up with Good Morning America and she told them about the “Tilly Talk,” the orientation that SeaWorld staffers get about the dangers of working with orcas. According to Simons, staffers were told that if a person were to go into the water with Tilly, the person would “come out a corpse.” She also said that only a couple of weeks before Brancheau’s death, the park held a practice drill on how to handle an orca incident, and the standard critique of the drill was not even completed because the drill had failed so badly.
Simons claims that SeaWorld withheld documents from OSHA investigators and blocked interviews with trainers—interviews that might have been critical in assessing blame.
SeaWorld has a history of bullying authorities into sweeping bad press under the rug. Following a 2006 attack by an orca on a trainer at SeaWorld in San Diego, the California division of OSHA concluded that it was “only a matter of time” before someone was killed, but the agency withdrew its findings after being blasted by pressure from SeaWorld.
OSHA’s report should be out later today and is likely to find that SeaWorld was negligent—despite influence from SeaWorld and a shameless U.S. representative from Florida.
Please join PETA in calling on Florida’s governor to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute SeaWorld for the involuntary manslaughter of Dawn Brancheau.
Written by Jennifer O’Connor