Here in The Crusty Curmudgeon World Headquarters we are very animal rights conscious. That is not to say we are PETA-like, with insane tendencies, but concerned about wildlife just the same. I don’t know how I feel about zoos. Many will argue that zoos are the only way to guarantee a species survives. The truth is, the wild sucks too, thanks to man, who cuts it down, pollutes it, and kills its inhabitants. Either way, man is to blame. Which brings me to killer whales in captivity and the tragic death of a trainer this week.
Killed was Dawn Brancheau, 40, whale trainer at Sea World in Orlando. The attack was in front of a large audience, and by all accounts, was horrible and dramatic.
One witness, Victoria Biniak, said she saw the whole thing from the audience area.
“The trainer was explaining different things about the whale and then the trainer that was down there walked away from the window. Then Telly (the whale) took off really fast in the tank and he came back, shot up in the air, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started thrashing (her) around. He was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent.” She went on to say it was violent enough to cause the trainer’s shoe to fly off.
Apparantly the whale, named Tilikum, or Telly for short, doesn’t usually have a trainer in its tank because it is too large, being a 30-year old, 12,000 pound bull orca.
Nancy Black, a whale expert—you know the type—said the whale incident may have been an accident and the whale only playing. “They are very intelligent creatures. They have emotions, and feelings. Maybe it was unhappy in the situation, maybe it was bored,” Black said.
Yeah…or maybe it was a KILLER WHALE.
It’s not like Telly, or Tilikum (remember that name), hadn’t shown a propensity for violence previously.
In 1991, a trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, was killed. Three whales were blamed for the killing. One was Tilikum.
In 1999, a South Carolina man somehow got into a whale tank at SeaWorld Orlando after park hours and drowned. He was found with bite marks below the waste. A forensic investigation found the bite was administered by Tilikum.
Also in 1999, a man’s body was found mysteriously draped over a killer whale’s body. The whale? Tilikum. An autopsy ruled that he died of hypothermia, but authorities said it appeared Tilikum bit the man and tore off his swimming trunks.
Notice how people keep mysteriously winding up in Tilikum’s tank? I think he gets out of the tank and goes to get them. I’m not a fancy animal trainer, and I’m no Whale Whisperer, but it seems to me Tilikum doesn’t like living in captivity.
And what about that name? Tilikum?
Just rearrange the letters a bit.
(This story was first reported by Internet Broadcasting Systems and ClickOrlando.com, to which The Associated Press also contributed.)