Monday, February 27, 2012

Experts Weigh In on Killer Whale Captivity as We Await the OSHA Verdict

Is it possible to work safely with large intelligent free-ranging mammals, like killer whales or elephants, in confined spaces such as those that exist at circuses? The short answer is "no." You can be safe most of the time, but not all of the time. After reviewing and listening to the evidence, you can decide for yourself.  

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On August 23rd of 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited SeaWorld Florida with a “willful” safety violation for “exposing its employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales.”

SeaWorld appealed OSHA’s citation, and this appeal has been heard by Administrative Law Judge Kenneth S. Welsch in a two-part hearing entitled Sec of Labor vs SeaWorld LLC. As we await the decision regarding this pivotal case, assembled here are three important radio interviews that shed light on the topic of killer whale aggression and its relationship to captivity. 

In stark contrast to their captive cousins, oceanic dolphins are widely known to help humans in need. Wild killer whales do not harm humans

The interviews involve two top journalists, Tim Zimmermann and David Kirby, and a former SeaWorld trainer, John Jett PhD, who is now an adjunct professor of Environmental Science at Stetson University in Deland, FL, USA. 

John co-authored the paper Keto & Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity in 2011 and wrote this OP-ED piece for Anderson Cooper 360 shortly after Dawn Brancheau was killed. 

Although Tim and David have won awards for various books and articles, their investigative work on the issue of killer whale captivity is unparalleled.  These journalists are likely the two most informed writers on this topic that one can find. 

Listen to the three interviews to understand what these journalists have learned over the past years, and also get a former insider's perspective from Dr. Jett.  "JJ" worked at SeaWorld for almost 5 years during the mid 1990's, nearly all of that time at Shamu Stadium, and was Tilikum's team leader in 1995. 

See an Example of a "Struck-By Hazard" Here:

To see what OSHA's factual findings were, go to previous coverage.  There is a direct causal link between killer whale aggression and their confinement in unnatural spaces for human entertainment.

New Orleans, LA, USA
For more information go to Voice of the Orcas