Nature Speaks

Getting drowned, mauled and chomped to death by a killer whale is a horrible way to go, so my sympathies to the friends and family of the late Dawn Brancheau, 40, who suffered this grisly fate two days ago at a SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.


The late Dawn Brancheau

But — yup, here comes the thing that you’re not supposed to say — the instant I read this I said to myself, “This is a captive animal getting some payback…an inmate letting a prison guard have it across the chops on behalf of tens of thousands of killer whales and dolphins who’ve been forced to perform at sea parks.”

The Cove explained this situation very clearly. Making sea mammals perform tricks for suburban-schmuck families is not only an agonizing life-sentence jail term but a form of emotional torture. In the film Ric O’Barry tells of a dolphin who was so depressed by a SeaWorld-type confinement that it committed suicide.

SeaWorld employees seem to be getting this on some level. A SeaWorld spokesperson has said “it will resume its killer whale shows on Saturday” but that trainers won’t enter the water. “I wouldn’t begin to speculate what he was thinking,” the spokesperson said in response to a reporter’s question about the whale’s state of mind when he lunged at Brancheau. “It’s too premature to guess what happened.”

The guy added that an investigation into what happened to Brancheau is presently underway. That’s it — bring in Detective Colombo.

Brancheau “was standing knee-deep in one of the Orlando park’s pools Wednesday when killer whale Tilikum leaped out of the tank, grabbed hold of her ponytail and dragged her underwater. Her cause of death was likely drowning and multiple traumatic injuries. The tragedy occurred at 2 p.m. during a post-show event at Shamu Stadium as about two dozen horrified visitors watched. Witnesses reported seeing the 12,000-lbs. whale thrashing Brancheau around in the water and carrying her in his mouth.”

52 thoughts on “Nature Speaks

  1. I agree with you, Jeff. If someone kidnapped me, stuck me in a 6 x 6 cage, and then twice a day made me dance for them, I would be plotting the moment I could kill them. All day, every day. I can’t wait for the first person to explain to me why zoos and aquatic theme parks are necessary. Who’s going to be the one?

  2. they don’t call them Killer Whales for an ironic effect.

    Although they did have a sick sense of humor when naming the killer whale since he’s mainly used for breeding purposes and they named him Til-I-Kum. Wasn’t that a disgraced senator’s internet cruising name?

  3. I just saw The Cove two days before this happened, so I’m in full agreement to. I wasn’t broken up about Siegfried (or was it Roy?) getting mauled by a tiger, either.

  4. “I wouldn’t begin to speculate what he was thinking,”?

    It wasn’t thinking a damn thing, it’s an animal. It was acting on its instinct, which apparently these foolish people choose to ignor.

    It’s one thing to provide a natural habitat for animals so that the public can be educated about them, but to use them for brainless shows such as this will inevitably lead to more results such as this. Reading between the lines, the people down there seem to know this.

  5. I concur.

    Seaworld is embarrassment to humanity right alongside Ringling Brothers. I don’t care how many people would lose their jobs – they should both be shut down permanently. They bring nothing good to this world.

    Although I did get a chuckle when PETA, I think it was, issued their statement basically reading the normal riot act and reprimanding their business – and then suggesting, somehow with a straight face, that they should be replaced with robotic whales. As if Seaworld is really just Chuckey Cheese and they’re going to have a stage of various marine biology playing guitars and singing songs in unison. It’s almost a more preposterous concept then what they actually have in effect.

  6. Douglas Adams says killer whales and sea mammals are space creatures.

    Anyways, on a serious note, no reason to pile on an unfortunate situation … let’s talk movies.

  7. They make noise and people, for some reason, listen.

    Whether it’s to actually take in their thoughts or laugh at their hypocrisy is a different story.

  8. I believe that there should be an organization that exists to protect animals from human cruelty. PETA is not that organization. They’re a joke.

  9. Uh, Milkman – perhaps we can form one.

    Call it, I don’t, just spitballing here, something like the Humane Society? Or maybe the Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA for short?

  10. The part of the story I loved the most was that after the incident the other year in San Diego where the trainer managed to escape, a panel told Sea World that the only way they could possibly save a trainer from a 12,000 lbs “extra playful” Cetacean would be to be prepared to shoot it.

    Sea World’s response, boiled down to the bottom line, was “whales are very expensive, much cheaper to replace the trainer.”

    Sad thing is, these trainers really do emotionally care for the animals.

  11. These animal trainers ultimately love the creatures so much, and the research they do is vital to the animals’ survival in the wild. That said, a death like this is almost tragic in a truly Greek sense. That it doesn’t happen more often almost seems like tempting fate. I feel the same way about skydiving, deep sea diving and all sorts of stuff. It’s amazing more horrible things don’t go wrong, because when it does, it’s like, well, yeah. Of course it did.

    Anyone else catch the Times article about the poor cop that shot that “trained” chimp in New England, the one that mauled the neighbor, tore off her hands and face? The cop’s been struggling with depression ever since, because, like so many neighbors, he “knew” the animal, and 20 years of relative domesticity made the shock of the animal’s intrinsic wildness just that much more severe.

  12. I don’t think it’s pay-back, but they’re not called killer whales for nothing. I just don’t get why they wanna keep it, if it’s had prior offenses. Toss its ass back in the ocean and pick up one you can actually “domesticate” in its place.

    Jackrabbit: Siegfried and Roy obviously underestimated those tigers, but I still respect ‘em for saving ‘em from poachers. It’s those assholes at that SF zoo who decided to build a pit just low enough for a tiger to jump out of after being taunted who pissed me off. Poor animal didn’t have to be put down if those fuckers followed regulations.

  13. @DZ

    Give me a break those teenagers knew what they were doing. The zoo shouldn’t have to anticipate a bunch of assholes teasing wild animals and trying to get in their cage.

  14. The thing is that if these animals weren’t in Sea Worlds and zoos, the public at large wouldn’t feel as close to them, and they would be less concerned about infringing on their habitat. It’s a trade off.

  15. @62Lincoln – Non-human animals think, just like you or me. And human animals act on instinct, just like non-human sentient beings. Your imaginary disctinction is just that – imaginary.

    And yes, lots of people are influenced by PETA. Because they’re right about pretty much everything. And many people recognize that.

  16. I’m not inherently opposed to the idea of (modern, properly-run, ethical) zoos, ocean parks, what have you. A lot of them are tremendously valuable for research and provide shelter for animals that are found wounded in poor circumstance in the wild. That the “dolphin show” stuff is footing the bill for the other stuff is regrettable, but there it is.

    That said, while it’s entirely proper to point out that the whale didn’t do anything wrong here, it’s VERY likely that this wasn’t a simple case of “nature taking it’s course.” The whale “went whale,” but he was able to do so to deadly effect most-likely because Sea World dropped the fucking ball.

    I’m no cetacean expert, but I have a passing familiarity with wild animal captivity and one of the things I took away was that male animals primary “on staff” as breeding-stock oughtn’t be “displayed” or performed-with because virility tends to equal aggressiveness. Unless the rules are somehow TOTALLY different for marine mammals… what the HELL is a breeder orca of that size (he’s TWICE the size of the others, just look at the pictures) who’s already killed twice before doing in the live show?

    People don’t realize just what kind of wire the trainers of these things are walking when they get in the tank with one of these things. Hell, a DOLPHIN can kill a swimming human if it sets it’s mind to it. Orcas are incredibly dangerous, and they aren’t at all passive hunters. It’s every bit as life-on-the-line as climbing into a lion enclosure. What’s more, what they DON’T mention in the show is that most of the “tricks” they do are cued adaptations of things they do in the wild to KILL STUFF. Orcas don’t belly-slide onto land because they like when you clap, that move is for killing and eating stuff on the shore. When you see a dolphin tail-swat the ball through the hoop, you’re watching the equivalent of a blackbelt breaking bricks for your amusement.

  17. @boldnative – of course “non human” animals think. Let’s give ‘em some simple math problems to demonstrate that capability.

  18. boomer (and others dissing PETA) – PETA is an exceptionally effective outfit, and wields far more influence on our thinking about animals than you realize. but for PETA’s extreme positions and outlandish, attention-grabbing stunts, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. years ago they were deemed quasi-terrorists for splashing paint on people wearing furs. but that got people talking about fur, and now there is great approbation attached to wearing fur.

    they know exactly what they’re doing, and they do a great job of shifting public thinking about issues of animal rights.

  19. but for PETA’s extreme positions and outlandish, attention-grabbing stunts, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now.

    uh what

  20. That’s brilliant, MovieBob. I’m with you on this. No way “Tilly” should have been in that tank, nor performing at all. Every SeaWorld should be forced to become some kind of marine haven with no more performing and limited, or no, breeding in captivity. (Releases, of course, are out of the question because, like poor Keiko, these amazing creatures wouldn’t survive.) It’ll likely be a long time before places like SeaWorld are banished (they’re sadly just too lucrative) but I’m sure glad we’re talking about it.

  21. Awesome concept. I know a buddy of mine makes use of templates. This stuff is great for if you append rows to a grid or list.

    Also, it would probably be great for having some sort of “viewer”. You could have a list of documents, and use jQuery to get JSON data, then put the data into the template. Something like viewing invoices or other formatted docs.

    Just to be picky too, according to w3schools.com, the “value” tag is deprecated? But I guess it is still technically valid. I like to be “valid” when I can :)

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  22. Awesome concept. I know a buddy of mine makes use of templates. This stuff is great for if you append rows to a grid or list.

    Also, it would probably be great for having some sort of “viewer”. You could have a list of documents, and use jQuery to get JSON data, then put the data into the template. Something like viewing invoices or other formatted docs.

    Just to be picky too, according to w3schools.com, the “value” tag is deprecated? But I guess it is still technically valid. I like to be “valid” when I can :)

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  24. Excellent concept! Brand image can be reinforced by brand communications. You need to focus both on offline and online medium. Social media is an important place where you can communicate one to one with your traget audience.Burberry Sunglasses

  25. It really is another thing to produce a perfect environment with regard to wildlife so the population might be schooled with regards to these folks, nonetheless to work with these folks with regard to brainless illustrates this way may certainly cause a lot more final results this way. Reading through among that outlines, affiliates along now there manage to learn this specific.

    Despite the fact that Used to do obtain chuckle whenever PETA, I believe it absolutely was, written its declaration essentially reading through the traditional huge range action in addition to reprimanding its organization : after which you can recommending, mysteriously which has a right skin, them to needs to be changed by using automatic whales. Since when Seaworld is actually only Chuckey Cheese in addition to they will have got a step regarding several sea biology trying to play various instruments in addition to vocal sounds together. It really is practically a far more preposterous idea after that just what they will truly own within impact. english pointer

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