Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dr Jane Goodall endorses Death at SeaWorld

Incredibly positive editorial reviews keep flowing in for the yet-to-be-released and controversial book called Death at SeaWorld. The book is written by best-selling author David Kirby and published by Saint Martin's Press. There are currently at least three separate petitions, led by captivity supporters, to ban the book. 

Amazon link:  Death at SeaWorld 
Facebook Users:  Death at SeaWorld 

“This is one helluva book! David Kirby provides the most complete and accurate account of what I perceive as a transgression of morality toward the animal kingdom – the slavery of orcas, supreme beings in the aquatic world. And he personalizes it for us. Many of us have a deep appreciation of, and a deep compassion for, animals; and those whose favorite animals are killer whales are perhaps at the deepest end of the spectrum. Maybe someday Death at SeaWorld will be translated into whale-speak and broadcast throughout the oceans, seeking forgiveness. Until then, our actions must speak for ourselves.”

--Ken Balcomb, Director, Center for Whale Research, Friday Harbor, WA

Killer whales, like chimpanzees, are highly intelligent and intensely social creatures, forming close emotional bonds between family and group members. I have watched them leap in the freedom of the ocean and feel deeply saddened and angered to see them in cruel captivity, swimming endlessly and hopelessly around their sterile concrete prisons. As David Kirby so eloquently documents in this timely work, killer whale captivity only benefits the captors. It is impossible to read “Death at SeaWorld “ and come to any other conclusion.”

-- Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace

Death at SeaWorld is one of the most important books, if not the most important book, ever written on the horrific plight of captive cetaceans. Focusing on killer whales, the well-known black-and-white icons of life in the sea, David Kirby systematically dismantles every single argument used to justify keeping these incredibly intelligent and sentient beings in the aquatic cages in which they're jammed solely for profit at the expense of their very lives and those of other animals including humans. If you ever questioned whether or not places like SeaWorld should exist, I trust you will now answer with a resounding ‘NO!’”

--Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint

 “In this authoritative and superbly investigative page-turner, certain to ruffle feathers and fins, David Kirby traces the tale of scientist-conservationist Naomi Rose pitted against SeaWorld bent on turning a charismatic, intelligent, big-toothed predator — the killer whale, or orca — into its corporate brand. Kirby reports brilliantly on the escalating troubles and conflicts, the surprising and sordid underbelly of life — and death — at SeaWorld.”

— Erich Hoyt, author of the best-selling classicOrca: The Whale Called Killer and Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

“It is sad that this book had to be inspired by the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, but David Kirby has revealed the true heart of this fascinating story of the killer whale, the largest of the dolphins. Accurately, passionately, lovingly and unapologetically, he tells the orcas’ story, but we also meet the humans who have captured them, studied them, trained them, exhibited them, and tried to understand what the author calls (after humans), “the most socially and ecologically complex animals on earth.” This remarkable book deserves to be acknowledged as the most significant and moving account of the often disastrous interaction of cetaceans and humans since Moby-Dick.”

--Richard Ellis, author of Men and Whales, The Empty Ocean, and The Great Sperm Whale

"Entertaining, engaging and enraging - the fairy tale fantasy that the captivity marine mammal industry has spun for the unwary public is expertly unraveled in this non-fiction crime thriller.  You can’t make this stuff up. Animal advocate Naomi Rose, who has lived in the wild with killer whales, is the real-life heroine in the battle against the tragedy known as the captive dolphin industry.  A killer whale, never known to seriously attack a human in the wild, more social than us, with a brain much larger than ours, is captured, torn from his mother in Iceland and forced to do tricks for tourists in Florida. The unnatural existence turns him into a serial killer. But the real killer is the industry itself, and the corporate heads and politicians who willingly cover-up the rap sheets that should have reined in the captive industry decades ago."

-- Louie Psihoyos, Academy Award winning director of The Cove

Death at SeaWorld will become one of the most pivotal books in the orca captivity debate for years to come, and may well be the catalyst we have all been waiting for towards seeing an end to this cruelty. At last, both sides of the story behind the events at SeaWorld are being told and the truth is finally getting out there. Every budding orca trainer should consider this the must-read book of their career.”

--Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, Founder & Principal Scientist, Orca Research Trust

For more, get back to our website: Voice of the Orcas

DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, an acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. 


  1. As a child, I fell in love with orcas at SeaLand in Victoria, BC, particularly the rescued calf, Miracle, whom I "met" when she was at the Oak Bay Beach hotel's saltwater pool while her permanent pen was being built. But it was while on a boat, surrounded by a pod of orcas, that I understood the incredible, sublime beauty of orcas, and when I first understood that to trap such a creature was inhumane. I'll look for the book when it comes out!

  2. Thank you K. All of us at VOTO have experienced a similar transformation. Seeing killer whales in the ocean is very powerful. This book will shed light upon the issues that make captivity difficult for orcas.

  3. Captivity to an orca is the same as asking me to live in a closet. Impossible and terribly cruel. I am waiting to read this book and waiting for the human species to see the error of penning up such marvelous animals!

  4. SeaWorld, or rather Blackstone, their new corporate boss, can see that their brand has been severely tarnished by the growing awareness of the cruelty inherent in orca captivity. Blackstone is now doubling down with a massive branding campaign to make the name as familiar as the air we breathe, to counteract all this negative publicity (

    Blackstone is a holding company, so they own at least part of hundreds if not thousands of other familiar brands, and can promote any of them using partnerships with an array of consumer products from Barbie dolls to TV shows to inject the brand in a favorable light. Right now their $2.2 billion investment in SeaWorld is in trouble, so we're going to see a lot of that word in coming months. Meanwhile they are inseminating all available female orcas in hopes of maintaining a supply of performers despite their short shelf lives.

    We have before us a fascinating clash between mega-corporate strategic planning and cross-branding to promote SeaWorld, and the growing awareness that captivity for orcas kills them young, and that going to SeaWorld amounts to witnessing animal abuse. Death at SeaWorld is the story of how that corporate monolith ran headfirst into the public's new awareness and empathy for captive orcas.

  5. This book will definitely be on my "must read" list. I run a whale watching business and although I don't always get a chance to see Orcas, they did come to our area a few summers ago. I was shocked about how intelligent these being are and how selective they are about what they eat.

    Probably what convinced me that these animals should not live in captivity is the time that I was fortunate to have them breach alongside me while I was on my boat. These magnificant beings threw themselves up in the air beside me. But not for a meal of fish or a pat on the back. They did it, to my amazement, because THEY WANTED TO DO SO.

    I too grew up seeing them in their tanks in Marine land. I too thought that it was ok for them to live like this. However, I now know better. Seeing them in the wild changed my ideas about them completely.

  6. I have already read this book Twice from cover to is an amazing testimony to the beauty & intelligence of orcas and nothing better cites the many reasons against keeping these sensitive, family-oriented animals in the sterile prisons of too-small concrete pools!!!Human beings should have evolved past the need to dominate and mistreat living creatures. No animal should be so brutally exploited for the sake of financial gain. It is a fascinating book & one that I will read time after time. The day I opened the cover to the first page,an activist was born at age 58 in Missouri.

  7. Pat, thx for that great comment about #DASW and the birth of an activist, in Missouri. I lived in KC for 2 years while in medical school. Best...