Updated November 12, 2013: SeaWorld took its case to Washington D.C. today as they continue the appellate process in an attempt to overturn citations issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) following the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. (link to the audio file of today’s oral arguments below)
Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is representing SeaWorld in its appeal against the Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA’s governing body, as they attempt to repeal the federal order and citations that sharply criticized the marine park operator’s safety measures. The abatements required will essentially end SeaWorld’s signature orca/trainer performances.
The younger Scalia, formerly the Labor Department’s top lawyer, along with the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, went before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit headed by Chief Judge Merrick Garland and Judges Judith Rogers and Brett Kavanaugh. Oral arguments have concluded and the case is in the hands of the judges. It could take as long as several months before a decision is handed down.
…..Continue reading & listen to audio of the oral arguments →
An amazingly talented woman who once created major advertising and public relations campaigns for SeaWorld is having a drastic change of heart. After viewing the documentary film Blackfish, Cara Wilson-Granat will no longer list SeaWorld as a former client on her resume, but instead seeks healing as she prays to right the wrongs of the past… and the present. The California based author and inspirational speaker submitted an op-ed to The Orca Project and we are pleased to present it to you here… in her words:
San Diego, California – Years ago when I was a copywriter for an advertising agency in Los Angeles, one of my favorite accounts was writing for SeaWorld. I could barely contain my joy writing the ads, radio and TV spots that touted the “touching experience” of SeaWorld. Oh the delight I felt when I first met Shamu and was able to experience a world of magnificent marine mammals supposedly there for the edification of humans to see the sea wonders up close. A devout animal-lover, I thought (as did most of the creative team) I was participating in the preservation of Orcas seemingly delighting in this magical environment of hands-on trainers soaring through the choreographed acts with them. Oh how very wrong I was. And oh how deeply ashamed I am today for being a part of this vile travesty. I never knew or saw SeaWorld in the truest sense. I bought the lie…
Today, I can no longer remain silent in my fury and anguish after just viewing the extraordinary documentary, Blackfish, which reveals the profound cruelty of Orcas, primarily those at SeaWorld. This is a film that must be seen by the world because it uncovers that which most of us never knew nor wanted to believe, that these “happy” whales flipping and breaching on command are indeed, miserable, highly stressed, sickly, going insane, deeply grieving, separated from their natural habitats, their familiar pods—babies and mothers screaming for each other, all isolated in cruel and abusive ways that are unfathomable. We can no longer sit by nor support this immoral madness and applaud in delight. It would be no different than cheering on the destruction of life itself.
I can’t contain the massive sorrow that I feel right now knowing that those brilliant mammals, with complex brains, languages and family structures equal to and even superior to humans, are living out their brief lives so horrendously. All because of greed under the umbrella of “family entertainment”—making fat the coffers of the SeaWorld corporation and destroying these gentle beings before our very eyes. When left alone we are learning, Orcas never kill or attack humans; they live long lives in close-knit family bonds—vocalizing in unique ways of communicating in distinct languages that we’re only now beginning to understand. This is true for dolphins as well.
…..Continue reading more from Cara →
UPDATED December 04, 2013:
While continuing to shock, mesmerize, and inspire moviegoers worldwide, the documentary film BLACKFISH splashed its way onto CNN with a series of interviews, teasers, and unprecedented promotional advertising leading up to a nationwide broadcast on October 24. CNN also aired numerous encore presentations in the days that followed and the film is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and for download at iTunes (see below for ordering info).
After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, this critically acclaimed film has gone on to receive praise at numerous film festivals around the globe and has seen a successful run amid sold-out crowds in movie theaters worldwide.
Brought to us in conjunction with Magnolia Pictures, CNN Films and distributed by Dogwoof, this outstanding documentary film has received rave reviews from movie critics for its exceptional work bringing the controversial yet important realities of keeping orcas in captivity to the attention of millions of viewers.
…..Continue reading to learn more about Blackfish and how you can see it! →
Since the early 1970’s, 17 killer whales (orcas) have died at Marineland of Canada with an average age at the time of death just over 8-years-old. Over the same time period SeaWorld has lost 36 orcas at its 3 U.S. parks with an average age just under 14-years-old.
Although recent evidence has suggested that wild, male orcas live an average of 30+ years and females 50+ years (and many well into their 80s, 90s or longer), it is truly unusual that one marine park, SeaWorld, would sue another, Marineland of Canada, citing numerous concerns over animal welfare. In what is normally a close-knit, secretive and self-governing industry, it is rare that dissention amongst their ranks would expose their shadowy inner-workings.
However, this was the case in 2011 (reported HERE by The Orca Project) as an international custody battle pitted these two marine parks against each other as SeaWorld attempted to regain custody of Ikaika (Ike), a young male orca on a breeding loan to Marineland.
The November 29, 2006 attack on trainer Ken Peters by a killer whale (Orcinus-orca) named Kasatka led to an investigation by California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, much akin to the more recent OSHA investigation into the brutal death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
Although the injuries sustained by Peters were relatively mild by comparison, the video which was shown in court proceedings this past Fall led Administrative Law Judge Ken Welsch to describe the footage as “chilling” as he ruled to uphold the charges in the SeaWorld vs OSHA case. SeaWorld was appealing the OSHA citations issued to the marine park after Dawn Brancheau’s death.
…..Continue reading and watch the full 15 minute video →
By months end, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment must decide whether it will accept the decision handed down by an Administrative law judge last Wednesday. The order by the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission fundamentally upheld citations issued to the Orlando, Florida marine park by OSHA following the brutal death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau in February 2010.
SeaWorld appealed the August 2010 citations during nine days of highly publicized hearings last fall. At stake was the most egregious violation “for exposing animal trainers to struck-by and drowning hazards when working with killer whales during performances”.
“OSHA’s intent has been to ensure the safety and health of employees who work with SeaWorld’s killer whales in performances,” said Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “In his decision, the judge has upheld the OSHA citations. That is a win for the employees of SeaWorld.”
In his rather scathing order, the honorable Judge Ken Welsch unequivocally highlighted the “very high gravity” of SeaWorld’s apparent knowledge of hazards that resulted in the death of the veteran trainer.
A leaky pool, sanitation issues, and a deteriorating roof at Miami Seaquarium’s killer whale stadium are threatening the welfare of orca Lolita and the dolphins housed in the oldest, smallest, and most decrepit marine park pools in the United States.
A recent inspection conducted by the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) found several issues with the structure which poses a risk to the marine mammals housed in this facility which are supposed to be protected by the regulations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The structural deficiencies may also pose significant risk of injury to employees and the hundreds of daily visitors to the Key Biscayne entertainment facility.
…..Continue reading →