Sea World Re-Opens Killer Whale Shows

Wildlife — By Stephanie on March 1, 2010 at 6:37 am
2354677496 4a9fb22508 Sea World Re Opens Killer Whale Shows

Majesty of Orca Whales (image from suneko on Flickr)

Following last week’s devastating killer whale attack and the death of a Florida Sea World trainer, Sea World has re-opened killer whale shows at all locations.  There are some that are questioning the wisdom of the decision.  Overall, the incident has raised a number of questions keeping about orcas in captivity, trainers getting in the water with them, and using these intelligent animals – related to dolphins – as a means of human entertainment.

If you haven’t already heard, on February 24, a veteran Sea World trainer in Florida was rubbing the belly of a killer whale on a poolside platform.  Suddenly the orca, named Tilikum, reached up and grabbed the trainer’s ponytail, dragging her under water until she drowned.  Sadly, its not the first human death caused by the creature.

Nonetheless, the killer whale was spared, and a decision made not to release him into the wild, like one of his predecessors, Keiko (the inspiration for the Free Willy movies).  But perhaps most surprising was the announcement that, just 2 days after the trainer’s death, Sea World would be re-opening its killer whale shows.

3267559469 14e5f8b3f0 Sea World Re Opens Killer Whale Shows

Shamu at Sea World in 2006 (image from Serch on Flickr)

Even though the creatures – known as both orcas and killer whales – are generally docile animals, there was some warning that Tilikum should not have continued as part of the Sea World show.  He had already killed two persons in the past in 1991 and 1999, under different circumstances.

Killer whales are so-named, not because they are inherently dangerous to humans, however.   They do strike and kill normal prey, which includes seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins and occasionally whales.  Unlike sharks, there are no killer whale attacks on human swimmers or divers.

3966250527 defc31f480 Sea World Re Opens Killer Whale Shows

A Killer Whale show at Sea World (image from Paruula on Flickr)

Since the Sea World trainer’s death, the alarm has sounded around the world.  People that are opposed to keeping orcas – or any wild animals – in captivity bemoan the horrible existence the creatures endure.  On the other hand are those that say that the killer whales and dolphins have a cushy existence living in aquariums like Sea World.

Like any other living creature, they can have “good days,” and bad.  Some theorize that Tilikum just had an off day, and was not aware of what he was doing, or the tragic impact his actions ended up having.

3220676961 3e2be78c94 Sea World Re Opens Killer Whale Shows

A close relationship between Orcas and humans (Image from TroyMcClure! on Flickr)

Tilikum arrived from British Columbia, Canada at the Florida Sea World facility many years ago.  From the beginning, trainers did not get in the water with him.  Still, Sea World researched and trained Tilikum, along with other orcas and dolphins.  Of course, the doomed trainer was not in the tank, but standing on a platform, and she still fell victim.

So now, the debate is raised to the forefront again.  Should we continue to display killer whales to raise awareness of these endangered animals?  Is Sea World the best venue for such education?  Perhaps showcasing orcas in more natural habitat is the answer, while shutting down entertainment venues at which we watch them jump through hoops and do other “stupid pet tricks” should be seriously re-evaluated.

2995173207 39b37f04bf Sea World Re Opens Killer Whale Shows

At the Sea World aquarium in San Diego (image from Alun O on Flickr)

What is your opinion on the killer whale shows at Sea World?  Please share and help make a difference!

Tags: , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Amanda Whiston says:

    I honestly believe that since Orcha are not an endahered species they should not be kept in captivity unless they are injured or something to that nature. They are WILD ANIMALS an deserve to have their freedom. put yourselves in their shoes…

Leave a Comment