The attack of 40-year old Dawn Brancheau at Sea World Orlando by a massive whale has left many people stunned. Accounts say that Tilikum, a nearly 23 foot long, 12,000 pound Orca whale, dragged Brancheau, a very experienced trainer, underwater and held her there as hundreds watched helplessly. She apparently continued to work with the whale in hopes of getting it to calm down. Tilikum did let her go briefly, but went after her again and finished the job. Tilikum has been implicated in at least two other deaths.
It wasn't the first Orca incident at a marine park. In 2006, Kasatka, a 12 foot long 5000 pound female at SeaWorld San Diego, pulled her trainer Ken Peters under the water twice. The experienced Peters managed to get away and survived, but it wasn't the first time Kasatka pulled a similar stunt.
And years ago, a student at Sealand of the Pacific died when three Orcas, working together, drowned her. Soon as I read this, I thought of a CNN video I saw recently about Orcas working together to force a seal off an ice floe so they could feast on it. WARNING: it's not pretty. CNN Video Smart Orcas Hunting Seal
Orcinus orca belongs in the dolphin family. In the wild they live in matriarchal pods, share lifelong family bonds and form complex communications systems. Their lifespan is as much as 60 years and clearly, they are not stupid.
So why are we surprised when killer whales purposely hunt down prey and dispose of it? It's part of their resume, isn't it?
Tilikum's other trainers say he can't be returned to the wild for a bunch of oddball reasons, such as he lost his teeth and since he spends most of the day floating, he would not be able to swim the long distances needed to find food in the ocean. But the reality is that Tilikum is worth millions because he has sired over a dozen offspring, all born in captivity raking in more money for the park owners. He won't be put out to pasture anytime soon.
I ask you -- who was the idiot that first came up with the notion of putting these magnificent animals into small pools for human entertainment? Let's find him and throw him into a pool, so we can be entertained as he leaps out of the water, flaps his arms and opens his mouth wide for a fishy treat.
I only hope that the whales save the humans, please.
Amen, and pass the mustard.