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SeaWorld’s Proposed Multi-Million-Dollar Safety Gimmicks Don’t Measure Up

February 28, 2011
Dawn Brancheau

Dawn Brancheau

In a well-orchestrated announcement, released just hours before the 1-year anniversary of the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld says they are spending tens of millions of dollars to outfit their performance pools and trainers with “safety” devices intended to prevent loss of life should another attack occur.

The PR move, designed to divert attention away from this tragedy, was reported last week by the Orlando Sentinel and the CBS Early Show (see videos below) as SeaWorld plans to resume “waterwork” in their killer whale performances at all three of its U.S.-based theme parks. This announcement comes despite the unresolved conclusions of the upcoming OSHA vs. SeaWorld hearings where it is anticipated that SeaWorld will ask a judge to seal the details from the public as SeaWorld challenges OSHA’s citation for willfully placing their employees at risk.

On Saturday, February 26, 2011 author and journalist, David Kirby, appeared on Fox News to discuss these issues as well as the negative effects of orca captivity:

The above video can also be viewed on the Fox News website HERE.

As the details of the tragic incident on February 24, 2010 continue to unfold, it increasingly appears that Dawn’s death was a calculated risk the marine park was willing to take in the preservation of their signature “Shamu” shows, which are at the core of the theme park’s multi-billion-dollar entertainment business. But former SeaWorld trainers continue to come forward and speak out about the safety deficiencies, the negative effects of killer whale (orca) captivity and the details surrounding the tragic, yet avoidable loss of Mrs. Brancheau.

While graphic and painful, these details need to be brought to light in order to avoid future tragedies and to expose the exploitation of killer whales and trainers alike. On a date that should have been reserved as a day of reflection and remembrance, SeaWorld instead chose to use this sad anniversary as another opportunity to promote themselves as a caring, responsible institution with the best interest of the orcas, trainers and the public in mind. With SeaWorld’s lack of discretion, it was necessary for the ugly truth to be made public, mindful of the grief and pain the family and friends of Dawn must feel. By revealing these disturbing facts, it is hoped that another unfortunate incident can be averted and is not intended to add to their sorrow. Our hearts truly go out to all who knew Dawn, especially her family, friends and coworkers during this upsetting and difficult time.

In the video below from the CBS Early Show, February 24, 2011, former SeaWorld trainer Dr Jeffrey Ventre explains why SeaWorld wants to keep the facts about orca captivity and Dawn’s death from public examination. Again, although graphic in nature, it is important that the public is aware of the truth:

Click here to watch Dr Jeff Ventre on the CBS Early Show

Click on image above to watch Dr Jeff Ventre on the CBS Early Show- “Former SeaWorld trainer: Details of co-worker’s death horrific” (opens in new window)

Among the proposed “safety improvements” unveiled by SeaWorld, the marine park says it has designed rising pool floors that can lift killer whales out of the water in perhaps less than a minute’s time.

“Upon initiation, it would immediately release and rise to the surface, lifting multiple killer whales, and then obviously could support multiple individuals,” said John Linn, SeaWorld Parks’ senior director of engineering services.

In addition, SeaWorld said it intends to eventually outfit its trainers with emergency air supplies, initially designed for the U.S. military, that will feature automated breathing regulators and provide two-to-five minutes of air for a trainer trapped under water. The Orca Project reported on this false solution dubbed “Spare-Air” in August, 2010 and several former SeaWorld trainers offered their perspective:

~Dr. John Jett: “The scuba bottle solution… represents, in practical terms, nothing. In other words, this is a false solution”

~Samantha Berg: “I think spare air or any kind of SCUBA gear that a trainer has to be wearing would likely CAUSE more problems than it prevents.”

~Carol Ray: “This is NOT a solution, and would not have prevented Dawn’s recent death or the majority of injuries that have occurred as a result of the recent incidents we are aware of.

You can also read another report on Spare-Air here: SeaWorld Former Trainers Tell OSHA Spare Air Is No Solution

And the company says designers are researching rapidly expanding mechanisms that trainers could use in an attempt to quickly pry open a whale’s jaws in an emergency. Last year it was necessary to pry open Tilikum’s mouth during recovery operations.

The company also intends to employ underwater vehicles that could be used to distract an out-of-control killer whale with pulsing lights and whale vocalizations… essentially an “underwater robotic rodeo clown”.

These proposed changes are on top of other inadequate safety improvements SeaWorld has made in recent months, including installing removable guardrails around stage ledges (see photo below) and “net boxes” that reportedly deploy quickly in an emergency (read more about the new net device HERE). However, none of these proposed safety measures will sufficiently ensure the safety of its trainers. In fact, many are viewed as increased risks as more and more of these devices are introduced into the killer whales’ existing unnatural habitat.

And according to Dan Spitz, a forensic pathologist who reviewed the autopsy at the request of NBC News, there was little that could have been done to save Brancheau’s life once the whale had her. “Had she been able to be pulled from the whale early on, she did sustain severe injuries, and even with fairly immediate medical attention, it would be difficult for her to survive.” You can watch the full report on NBC’s TODAY Show HERE.

For the full story on SeaWorld’s safety announcement, including interviews with former trainers Drs John Jett and Jeffrey Ventre, watch the video below from the CBS Early Show:

John Jett on the Early Show

Click on image above to watch Drs John Jett and Jeff Ventre on the CBS Early Show- “Sea World trainers to return to the water” (opens in new window)

Due to limited space requirements, the Orlando Sentinel published SeaWorld’s proposed safety solution announcement on the evening of February 23, foregoing responses to questions asked of former SeaWorld trainer Dr. Jeffrey Ventre (and others). Therefore, the story was released without the opposing views of SeaWorld’s statements. The Orca Project has published the Q & A with Dr. Ventre below:

Orlando Sentinel (OS): SeaWorld maintains that it wouldn’t be proceeding with water work unless it was certain that its trainers’ jobs have been made as safe as possible. Do you believe that it is at all possible for a trainer to safely work with a killer whale in the water?

Dr. Jeff Ventre (JV): Yes, most of the time, but not all of the time. A year later, it’s clear that the 3 former trainers that died from captive orcas, Keltie Byrne, Alexis Martinez, and Dawn Brancheau were killed by free-thinking whales that broke from control and decided to hurt them. These facilities, SeaLand of the Pacific, Loro Parque, and SeaWorld, all have a vested interest in presenting these events as tragic accidents. That is why at the very first press conference, SeaWorld announced that Dawn had “slipped and fell and drowned.” What is concerning is that they came up with that fabrication after a closed-door session. Then they fed it to the Orange County Sheriff, who announced it to the world via press conference. The “pony tail” pull-in was likely another tall tale. The evidence suggests that Tilikum used a counterclockwise roll move and arm-barred Dawn over the top and into the water. The details of the ensuing struggle and the extent of the massive injuries sustained challenge the claims put forth that this was simply an accidental drowning caused by an overzealous whale.

OS: Do you believe there is any way SeaWorld can adequately prepare for situations where whales break control?

The new "safety rails" are put into practice during a December 2010 Believe Show performance

The new “safety rails” are put into practice during a December 2010 Believe Show performance~ photo courtesy John Kielty

JV: Preparation, for anything, is important. However, in real situations, like with Dawn, Keltie, or Alexis, things break down rapidly. It’s like in medicine when a “code” is called. It’s nice to have a pre-determined instruction manual, but many times the manual gets tossed out the window when you’re trying to save a life. My understanding is that in all 3 trainer deaths, efforts to save these young people were “thwarted” by the whales, which out-maneuvered the teams of trainers trying to lend aid to their fallen colleagues. In all cases the trainers were either pulled back into the water, or prevented from leaving the pool. Additionally, life rings and hooks were avoided or pushed out of range. Call back slaps and underwater tones failed. These animals likely don’t feel guilt the way we do and made powerful statements.

OS: Do you believe that some of these safety solutions – particularly the lifting floor concept – will genuinely improve safety?

JV: No. These gestures are designed to be expensive gadgets that “prove” that SW is making things safer. There are no lifting floors or counter-measures available to kayakers, boaters and divers that interact with orcas in the wild, yet not one person in a kayak has ever been hurt. The obvious conclusion is that the stress associated with captivity makes them less predictable, and sometimes dangerous. These animals are not dogs. They have large brains and think for themselves. The irony here is that these counter-measures prove that the whales are not completely safe, and help demonstrate OSHA’s case.

For more information and exclusive content, visit Jeffrey Ventre’s page HERE at Voice of the Orcas, a new website created by four former SeaWorld trainers, sharing a common philosophy to provide a voice to those without.


Meanwhile, the killer whales themselves are gradually being re-trained through a process SeaWorld calls “water desensitization training” where orcas will presumably be desensitized to the presence of a trainer in the water. They eventually plan to put all of their killer whales through this behavioral training except for one- Tilikum, the large whale that killed Brancheau. The adult male is considered especially dangerous because he has been involved in three deaths over 20 years and is by far the biggest orca in SeaWorld’s collection.

According to SeaWorld Animal Curator Chuck Tompkins, Tilikum had been put through “some very basic sessions of water desense” before Brancheau’s death and will undergo some further limited work… but trainers will not get into the water with him at all.

Tilikum in solitary confinement in a back pool 02-23-2011

Tilikum remains isolated from other orcas and out of public view as seen in this February 23, 2011 photo, courtesy of Colleen Gorman

Reportedly, trainers have begun working with Tilikum on behaviors to be used in a new killer-whale show that will debut in SeaWorld’s marine parks this spring. That show, at least for the foreseeable future, will be conducted entirely by trainers working from the stage. Since Brancheau’s death, SeaWorld has kept Tilikum out of all performances and isolated him from the other 6 orcas in the pool complex, akin to a sentence of “solitary confinement” for his actions of last year. Recently, Tilikum’s living conditions and access have been further restricted due to the ongoing construction to incorporate the new “safety” measures. He is now confined to a shallow pool, not as deep as he is long. A rather cruel and unusual punishment for one of the world’s most complex, intelligent, social beings that are known to travel up to 100 miles a day in the wild. Therefore, Tilikum’s exact fate, and his future, remains quite uncertain.

Stay tuned to The Orca Project for continuing developments.

45 Comments leave one →
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  2. Jen permalink
    October 7, 2011 12:28 am

    I have read most of the arguments and comments that were from Feburary. I agree that keeping Orcas in Captivity is depriving them of having a normal, happy and healthy life since there has been STATISTICAL FACTS that prove their reduced lenght of life.
    These gorgeous, amazingly talented and intelligent animals DO NOT belong behind bars. Nothing matters here but the release of them. I do believe that SW trainers are scared of actually being around him since he’s already been involved in several deaths “over the last 20 years” as said above in the article. The matter of Fact is, that Tilikum, right now, is in a red zone and just unsafe to be around. They are breed and used to entertain people. I admit that I have been to sea world since I do not have the ability to visit them in nature (yet) but after hours of researching and actually seeing EVIDENCE (Cali) that they are not doing well…. it just breaks my heart. How would you feel if you were caged up and used only to reproduce offsprings. Therefore I just want to say that no matter in what tank you push Tilikum into.. he doesn’t have ENOUGH communication with the wahles. Whales work in a group dynamic that allows them to ALWAYS be together and not forcefully seperate from each other.
    This is to Cali.. why don’t you go there daily and stay there the whole day and take pictures and than you can prove all of us wrong! If you can’t back up your argument, keep it yourself until you can.

  3. Stef permalink
    April 22, 2011 6:31 pm

    I just dont understand how this isn’t enough to make people realize this whole industry should just be stopped. It is not right for the animals and for the people either obviously if they’re having to go to these measures to protect themselves. This case says more than enough and using these poor animals who can’t voice their own opinion is completey insane. Especially for our countries who are so developed in other ways! Who would have thought it would ever come to this.

  4. March 15, 2011 6:46 pm

    Where are you iloveseaworld? What’s the problem? So far I’ve only seen your childish use of profanity. Why don’t you “grow up” a little bit before you waste all out time with epithets. Come back when you’re sufficiently educated on this topic. Be objective weigh both sides of the argument without prejudice. Only then will your thoughts be worth reading.

    • daf permalink
      October 28, 2013 3:03 am

      While I am opposed to SeaWorld and its practices..I did want to point out that it does get tiring when people use “childish” and “grow up” as responses. It amounts to the “adult” version of taunting “ILOVESEAWORLD is a baby. A little baby! Why don’t you grow up little baby?!” If we’re so mature, we can do better than that. Free these animals. That is all. Thanks.

  5. March 8, 2011 4:02 pm

    MSNBC-Today Show link featuring a Medical Examiner (ME) commenting on the autopsy findings:

  6. March 3, 2011 11:15 pm

    Go Dr. Jeff! Nice interview, even if they didn’t give you much air time.

  7. ILOVESEAWORLD permalink
    March 1, 2011 10:24 pm

    What a load of bull.

    • March 3, 2011 11:08 pm

      Would you elaborate, please? I am always interested in specifics.

  8. Georgie Gemmell permalink
    March 1, 2011 11:45 am

    Here’s a thought
    zoos? good or bad? (I personally don’t know the answer…which is so confusing as a naturalist and conservationist).
    If SW really wanted to keep these animals for education and CONservation then why do they make them perform moves and tricks unseen in the wild…dancing bears anybody?

    • Georgie Gemmell permalink
      March 1, 2011 11:51 am

      Not to mention giving Fudge all thought as to their social and mental requirements…they are unsuited to a zoo like environment as it is…let alone being clowns, it winds me up so much to see them jumping all over them like surfboards or something…
      and how the bitter irony of them enforcing the image of a free,wild, untamed and somewhat spiritual beast in the end video…whilst treating them with such disrespect…

      And the trainers, they mean well…but must know deep down that if they love them, then they’d be much happier in the wild…

    • Jordan permalink
      March 1, 2011 9:21 pm

      I entirely agree with your comment – if they’re about conservation and education, why do they have to get their orcas to do tricks, stunts and shows? If this is how they “educate” the public and think this is the ONLY way to get the visitors’ attention, then why are so many folks and families are willing to pay to get into zoos, where they’re there to just SEE the animals the zoo has?

      I guess it depends how the zoo presents itself and how they really intend to treat their animals as. There are a number of ramshackle, roadside zoos that clearly can’t meet the animals needs physically and mentally, and merely exist for profit.

      Then there are some zoos that I find very respectable, such as the Columbus Zoo and San Diego Zoo, that really do go out of their way to really educate, help in genuine captive breeding and release programs and give grant money to legitimate, small-scale wildlife groups (i.e. Columbus Zoo gives a good chunk to Friends of the Bonobos, a bonobo sanctuary in the Congo area).

      There’s also the conservation preserves to consider, such as The Wilds in Ohio, which dedicate themselves mostly to keeping common or very endangered herbivorous mammals.

      • March 3, 2011 11:10 pm

        Jordan, you have a good point that there are some zoos that do good work. Here near Seattle, we have the Cougar Mountain Zoo, which claims to focus on conservation. Their staff knows a lot about what’s happening to their residents’ cousins in the wild. Some species will cease to exist except in zoos.

  9. jeremy n. permalink
    March 1, 2011 6:08 am

    free all them whales, they dont belong in captivity!

  10. seattleite permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:55 pm

    these “safety measures” seem absolutely ridiculous and i can’t agree more that they are simply an effort to make SW look (to the general public) as though they ‘care’ about safety of their trainers. if anything, these “safety measures” would probably just piss of an agitated whale even more. There is NO WAY to keep their trainers in the water and at the same time know absolutely that they can keep them safe. I saw that Orlando Sentinel article and couldn’t believe the SW rep who states “this (waterwork) is something we’ve been successful doing throughout our history”…Uh, hello?

  11. withoutmethereisnou permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:35 pm

    Well said…well documented…well presented! As the story unfolds, SeaWorld is becoming less and less able to keep the public from seeing their “dirty little secrets”.

    essentially an “underwater robotic rodeo clown”….Nice!

  12. kelly permalink
    February 28, 2011 2:35 pm

    and i forgot classic word choice “underwater rodeo clown” !!! perfect description in my book

    • February 28, 2011 3:14 pm

      That term was coined by a friend of The Orca Project… and it is the perfect description of another one of SeaWorld’s “false solutions”. Thank you for that T.B.! , and thank you Kelly.

  13. kelly permalink
    February 28, 2011 2:31 pm

    you would think they would’ve made sure to have Til available to view. very odd to say the least. again, thank you for all you have put out there for us to learn and showing us the other hidden that is there. take care

  14. February 28, 2011 2:00 pm

    Does anyone find it interesting that SpareAir keeps being brought up as a viable solution?

    For any of those who don’t dive, here is a quick briefing:

    When breathing compressed air, it is critical that you follow proper ascent rates due to the pressure of the air your breathing and the atmosphere at which you are diving. For every 33 feet salt water, there is a change in atmospheric pressure. However, the biggest (dangerous) place is between 0-33 feet of water. I know my instructor has seen people die from holding a breath of compressed air in a pool (no deeper than 6 feet) and ascending to the surface. In a state of panic, and in the jaws of a unhappy captive orca, it seems very unlikely that a trainer would be able to maintain a safe ascent/decent rate and breath normally (not holding breath), let alone get a hold of their bottle in a timely fashion.

    The weight of the water column above the diver causes an increase in air pressure in any compressible material (wetsuit, lungs, sinus) in proportion to depth, in the same way that atmospheric air causes a pressure of 14.7 pounds-force per square inch at sea level. Pressure injuries are called barotrauma.

    I see the only option is retiring these captive Orcas, who are proven to suffer mentally from the captive environment. If they wont do this, then phase out captivity by stopping the shows, let them live out their life without having to perform for food and die in dignity… period.

  15. Cali permalink
    February 28, 2011 11:48 am

    Still throwing around that Tillikum is isolated from the rest of the orcas, eh Orca Project? It is pretty sad that my niece and nephew know how to count orcas in tanks better than you do.

    • Colleen Gorman permalink
      February 28, 2011 12:26 pm

      I am not really sure what you are talking about with counting orcas in a tank, “Cali”, but is this all you took from the article?

      As far as Tilikum being isolated, I can assure you he is even though they like to say he’s with Trua now and then. Funny thing is, I have never seen this in person and visit the park regularly.

      Did you know that CBS was not granted access to see him, nor take a photo of him while they were at SeaWorld on the 23rd of February, 2011? They filmed the entire show, did an interview with Chuck Tompkins after, but were not allowed to view him? They were nearly 100 – 150 feet feet away from him for nearly an hour….and nothing.

      Let me tell you, stay tuned for an article that will be coming out this weekend about Tilikum and his isolation. Much will be revealed as to the cover-ups and lengths SeaWorld goes to to keep the fact he is isolated most of his life at SeaWorld, how they like to pretend he’s playing all day or with Trua, and how they like to divert the media away from seeing him while he’s all alone.

      All I can say is, stay tuned…..

      • Cali permalink
        February 28, 2011 8:30 pm

        Well I can assure you Colleen that Tillikum has been with Trua, Malia, Nalani, and Kayla. I know you won’t believe me b/c I think I remember you saying that you don’t believe the “reliable sources of others.” All I can say is what I have said before….talk to regulars (not just your anticaptive buddy Jenn) and try making a friend that’s on the inside. How do you think people end up knowing so much? This is how I was confirmed about Tillikum’s training in the show pool.
        And I think its pretty much common knowledge that Tilly isn’t with another orca 24/7. I blame SW fan ppl for giving the impression that he is because we all know he still has alone time. And I’m sure you hear the SW fans saying “oh he chooses to be alone”….well truth is that is only sometimes and WHEN he gets to choose. I can already tell you that some SW fans are a little too “every thing is perfect” with the situation, but what I’m trying to get through to ppl on here is that the perfect image SW fans might portray is not right, but neither is this other image on here where “Tilly is never with orcas.” You gotta understand that both sides are clashing and both sides are still wrong so how is anyone going to get anywhere?

        • February 28, 2011 9:56 pm

          Kendra, I already have friends on the inside. How do you think I find out on days I’m not there, that indeed he is kept alone?

        • Cali permalink
          February 28, 2011 10:19 pm

          Then I can’t help but wonder who “on the inside” would be telling you that he is alone all the time when there are other reliable sources (one I’ve personally known for years) that are not in affiliation with each other that have confirmed things about Tillikum, disproving some of the accusations about him.

        • February 28, 2011 11:26 pm

          Then you will have to keep wondering, Kendra. My sources’ (plural) who I would never reveal, have been working there and viewing him for years. Since you live rather far away from FL, I highly doubt you’ve been there to see him very often in the past year or several months like I have.

          I openly invite and welcome you to come visit me; go to SeaWorld with me over a one, two or 4 week period, and then give me your opinion on how much time he gets interacted with, how much enrichment his environment gives him, and how socialized with the other whales he is and is not. And finally, how much alone time he really spends in E pool which, by all rights, is about as barren as they come.

          As of January 3rd (commence reconstruction of DWS pool) through today, Feb 28th it =’s 57 days this poor guy has had to spend “resting”, for the most part of his day, in a pool that is 15 feet deep for a being that is 22 feet long. You would know as well as I do if you saw him that often; he bobs vertically in the water for hours on end in DWS “when” he can, and he is not given that privilege or choice in E pool.

          Finally, Kendra, here is a question for you: It is 11:20 pm in Orlando right now — what do you think Tilikum is doing at this moment?

          Fast forward to 1 am when you are in bed all cozy with your family or in front of your computer. What do you think he is doing?

          At 3 and 4 am when you are deep asleep, what do you think HE is doing? Playing with the trainers, breeching, fornicating, frolicking and bouncing a ball off the end of his nose?

          If you don’t wake up in the middle of the night and lose sleep like I do every night and think of these things in regard to this being who doesn’t ‘techinically speaking’ sleep, and has no freedom of choice like you and me, please do….

        • Cali permalink
          March 1, 2011 7:22 pm

          Forgive me for politely disagreeing with his schedule you are trying to describe and what you have said, because I will believe my source as he has never been wrong in all the years I’ve known him and he gives it too me straight. And of course I don’t expect you to reveal yours, as same I would never reveal mine and as others will not reveal theirs because of the violation of protocol.

          I’m still confused why you are trying to prove to me that Tillikum gets alone time as well, because I have not once said that Tilly is never alone. We all know that Tilly has alone time, so what exactly are you trying to surprise me with? My point was and STILL is that he is not alone all the time, that was my reason for posting.

          Are you trying to make a point with E pool? He’s back there for a reason and its not that hard to understand. He does not come out whenever the public is in the stadium and that is well known. But like I said before, he is not confined to E pool. I heard from other sources first about him in the show pool, so then I asked my source and he confirmed it.

          If you are waking up in the middle night and losing sleep over Tilly, it is admirable for your passion for him….but also very disturbing. You should probably seek some help for that.

        • JEN permalink
          March 2, 2011 12:19 am

          Of course he’s kept with other whales sometimes (he has to do his job and get them pregnant right)

          the trouble is he spends #most# of his time alone (when there is no visitors to see it), and for sociable animals such as orca, even #some# time alone is to much. that’s why captivity is wrong in the first place.

        • Cali permalink
          March 2, 2011 10:18 am

          Regardless of your feelings on captivity, the most you would ever see happen for him is that he’d go to another park, but even that is very unlikely to happen.
          I think we all can agree too that Taima gone has effected him. When Taima died he lost his most frequent companion but even back then he would be alone frequently and even back in the 90’s when other females were there Tillikum had his alone time. Now with Taima gone, his alone time is more frequent and I wouldn’t expect any changes to happen until he’s back in shows.

    • Jordan permalink
      February 28, 2011 2:10 pm

      Cali, for someone who isn’t “some die hard SW supporter” you sure act like one. :\

      • Cali permalink
        February 28, 2011 8:14 pm

        I’m not a die hard supporter for SW and I have openly opposed certain things regarding some of their decisions, and even the actual “die hard” SW ppl and I will butt heads from time to time. My beef is that I believe if people are going to be targetting SeaWorld for stuff….they better get their facts straight.
        I just find it laughable to STILL hear the same bull crap that “Tilly is never with any whales when I go so therefore he’s never with them at all.”

        • Jordan permalink
          February 28, 2011 10:56 pm

          Oh c’mon Kendra, you’re an antagonistic, hardcore SW fan and you know it. Who else wouldn’t be running around on Orca Networks links to heckle at the ones commenting and giving their thoughts? (Granted, I’m not a fan of SeaWorld, but I certainly would not waste my time at the SW Facebook or other fansites and post shit there because honestly, why bother. Do I think it’s right that others are doing that? No, it’s pointless and gratuitously antagonistic to do so. I’d rather let followers post pictures and fanart and leave them be; I would not stoop so low as a 4channer troll.)

          Who else would go onto Tim Zimmermann’s article about the orcas’ aggressiveness in Loro Parque, and comment “HEY GAIZ NOTHING NEW!” when this is the FIRST time I, along with anyone else, have seen those photos or heard about the cases of physical aggression amongst the Loro Parque orcas. Clearly YOU’RE getting inside information about possible strife between individual orcas that is not being released to the general public.

          Also, I have yet to see any “normal” SeaWorld fan argue back at me with such fervor when I brought up Kandu V’s aggressiveness towards other orcas and trainers. Your typing style and whoring the ellipses gives you away easily.

          If Tilikum HAS been with Kayla, Nalani and etc, please give us a video, photograph or a log from a SeaWorld trainer/staffer (basically a detailed record of which animal visits whom, how they behaved for the day, did they behaviors correctly or not) to prove us wrong. I would be much happier knowing Tilikum is with a female or two that won’t rake or beat the shit out him, regardless if she’s in heat or not.

          However, if you cannot, then do me a BIG favor: admit you’re a hardcore SeaWorld fan, or actually act your age and participate in civil discussion. Can you do that?

        • Jordan permalink
          February 28, 2011 11:32 pm

          *who else would be


        • Cali permalink
          March 1, 2011 9:53 pm

          Sorry Jordan, I’ll be doing neither for you. The one I have no control over because the photos do not belong to me, and I cannot unset them from private when they do not belong to me. You have to find the owners and talk to them or befriend them.
          And no, I will not be saying I’m a die hard SW fan when I’m not. Just because I defend SW from the typical same old same old accusations from anticaptivists does not mean I defend them on all things and quite some time ago I was addressing some of the issues I had with SW as well as reminding people that SeaWorld is a company and will behave as such. I’ve already mentioned before there are things I disagree with, and I think you will find that even you and I would actually agree on a few things.

        • Jordan permalink
          March 1, 2011 10:41 pm

          Again, there you go with the connections again –
          >> “The one I have no control over because the photos do not belong to me, and I cannot unset them from private when they do not belong to me. You have to find the owners and talk to them or befriend them.”

          You know, when I requested for pictures for backup, I was asking for pics that YOU took whenever you were there, or at least a close friend of your’s would have they wouldn’t mind linking to me to backup your argument.

          Since when would a CASUAL SeaWorld fan would be having issues posting their images to back up their point? Hell, I see them posting pics of their favorite orcas ALL the time!

          I have a few photos myself of Kayla and Winnie when I went to SeaWorld Aurora from ’98 and some of just Kayla and pacific white-sided dolphins from ’94. Here’s one of Kayla from ’98 right here:

          (If this doesn’t work correctly, then my apologies)

          Now why is it so hard for you to post them? You can’t unset from private? How is it private if you can clearly see the image? If something is private, only the original poster/owner sees it, not you or any of his/her other friends. If that’s not what you meant as in “private,” then is it REALLY that hard to click the left button and go under “save as,” or drag the cursor to copypasta the image to obtain it?

          Or is it because the photos are owned by trainers or staff members that you’re well acquainted with? Would a casual SeaWorld visitor/fan get to know a trainer close enough that you got information where you couldn’t reveal “because of the violation of protocol”, as said above with Colleen?

          Or do these photos not exist at all and you’re giving me a nice smokescreen while you backpedal?

          Yes, I think we can both agree that you’re unable to be the adult that you /appear/ to be on your Facebook page, although you have a very familiar pattern I see with real trolls (READ – this comic: ).

          You create multiple aliases to lurk on this blog, Tim Zimmermann’s and Orca Network, even after several folks including myself called you out on your accounts, and even asked me to e-mail you so you can “elaborate ” on a subject in greater detail (I believe it was something related to Kalia and her “temper tantrums”). Now, who in their right mind would want to give their personal e-mail address to you after seeing this bizarre behavior?

        • Cali permalink
          March 2, 2011 6:11 pm

          Photos of Tilly with Malia or Kayla belonging to another person, that is. I never said they belonged to me, and sorry if I couldn’t click Print Screen fast enough for your fancy when I saw them and before they were gone. This was too long ago and they have not resurfaced anywhere, I cannot help the owner’s choice so I don’t know what more you expect me to do when it comes to trying to get people to show the world their personal photos. Although I wish I would’ve copied photos and links, at the same time I don’t…..because then if the owner found out that I was spreading their pictures around, even for something innocent like proving a point, then who knows how’d they react.
          And forgive me for being confused, but the only time I remember learning or commenting about Kalia and something about tantrums was in a video where someone thought she had epilepsy (even though she doesn’t)

    • February 28, 2011 11:04 pm

      Presuming Tilikum occasionally has company, why should that be a position that any reasonable human would advocate? Confinement has resulted in a decimated & chronically infected lower jaw, a collapsed dorsal fin, and the loss of many of his former companion animals. I find it hard to believe that someone is fighting for his current situation. This reminds me of “Planet of the Apes,” except this time WE are the apes.

  16. Kat permalink
    February 28, 2011 11:45 am

    I mean really can $eaworld just give it up already … it is not working … it has never worked.. they have been really good in the past at all the cover ups… now with cell phone cameras, small videos and other up to date equipment the truth is out for all to see…. no more cover ups… no more wetsuits in the water…. no more interest in orca shows….. hopefully will all add up to no more captive orcas….

  17. Vanessa Redgrave permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:45 am

    The more I learn, the more that it becomes clear Sea World does not have the best interests of these animals OR their trainers at hand. When I learned of Tillikum killing Dawn, I truly thought it was an accident as that is the way the media kept portraying this, as and “accident”. The more I learn, the more stunned I am!

    As someone who has been attending their park for decades now, it seems as though they have been put up a big smoke screen in order for the public to think everything is fine. Evidently it is not.

    I do hope that Dawn’s family sees what you and the former trainers are trying to do here —- reveal the truth and make sure a tragedy like this does not happen again.

    • February 28, 2011 10:39 pm

      Dear Ms. Redgrave (we assume this comment was written by THE Vanessa Redgrave, as it is compassionate and articulate),

      Thank you for reaching out and voicing your thoughts in response to these revelations about the conditions of captivity for orcas. Your comments exemplify the transformation many of us have gone through as we learned about the severe constraints and deprivations resulting from confinement in display tanks for these orcas, and the complicity of marine park management who required trainers to interact with dangerously stressed orcas at close range.

      Unfortunately there are indications that Dawn’s family does not understand that those of us who are exposing these realities are trying to prevent further tragedies for the whales and trainers alike. Solutions may be difficult, but first we all need to understand the realities of the situation that inevitably lead to terrible outcomes. We appreciate your understanding and support.


  1. SeaWorld Ponders Defeat in OSHA Ruling. Trainer Death May Alter Industry Forever « The Orca Project
  2. SeaWorld vs. OSHA- Killer Whale Showdown in Florida « The Orca Project
  3. SeaWorld vs Marineland. Killer Whale Ikaika Caught in International Custody Battle « The Orca Project
  4. SeaWorld Trainer Death Theory Debunked as a Ponytail Tale « The Orca Project
  5. Killer Whale Tilikum Returns to SeaWorld Shows After 3rd Death « The Orca Project

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