My opinion, for what it's worth
25 February 2010
Well, I just have to put my two cents in on this. On Wednesday, Tilikum, a 30 year old killer whale at SeaWorld, Orlando, attacked and killed Dawn Brancheau, a leading trainer there.
The details of the attack have been all over the news, so I won't repeat it hear. We need to remember that Dawn's family is still trying to come to grips with their loss. It is not my intention to add anything to the heaviness in their hearts.
This Orca had just been part of the noon show, and the fatal attack took place just afterward. Tilikum had been involved in two prior fatal attacks, one in 1991, the second in 1999. Now, if Tilikum was a 30 year old human, we would call him a serial killer. But Tilikum is a killer whale, the largest member of the dolphin family. The head of Sealand's animal care and training facility, where Tilikum resided at the time of the 1991 attack in which Tilikum killed his trainer, said Wednesday that Tilikum was a well-behaved, balanced animal. Wow. This was after this "well-behaved animal" had killed three human beings. Wow. When did we start putting animals ahead of human lives?
I'd be one of the first people to say we should never mistreat animals. This isn't about that. But we are talking about massive, wild animals that are captured and held in captivity, trained to do shows for profit, studied for science and understanding of their species and then bred for their offspring, so that the whole cycle can begin again.
Yes, I will agree that the data that we have gathered about these Orcas would not have been discovered if we had not captured some and studied them. But lets be honest and look at the bottom line here. The main reason we keep and display and breed these Orcas is cash. Lots of cash. These facilities have paid a great deal of money to obtain Tilikum and his brethren. They have invested a lot of money in training him. Tilikum has bred numerous times, making his value as a stud animal very high. The profit from future generations of Orcas sired has been enormous. Then there are the parks. Thousands pay to see these shows and animals on a daily basis. Yes, SeaWorld, Sealand, Marine World, they all make billions of dollars because of these animals.
And that, people is why they will keep Tilikum, and all of the killer whales at their facilities, performing and breeding and bringing in the cash. All while making their excuses as to why sometimes these large wild animals kill humans. Should we stop the practice of interaction with Orcas? Should we outlaw keeping, training and showing these animals? Should we force Sealand, SeaWorld, MarineLand, and other facilities to stop their practices and release the Orcas? Should we boycott or refuse to visit the parks?
I don't know. Really, I don't know the answer. I don't know what is in the best interest of the animals. I acknowledge the loss of jobs and the great negative effect on the economy if these facilities were to close. I realize that most people would never have a chance to see and observe them if these places were gone. I know we would lose a great opportunity to study these creatures if we did not have these facilities to do so. There is always a balance scale to large complicated issues and this is a complex issue in regard to all the factors I have just stated.
But we need to remember that this isn't the issue on the table. What's on the table is that this Orca has killed three people. This Orca is a serial killer who will get off scot free because he is valuable, both as an entertainer, and as a breeder. Money talks and here it says that three human beings are worth less than one KILLER, killer whale.
I do know that I take issue with that.