Must The Show Go On? of the Day: Although responsible for the deaths of three people, SeaWorld has announced that they will begin to force killer whale Tilikum to perform once again.
Tilikum, the bull orca responsible for the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau (seen above with Tilikum), is set to perform today for the first time since last year’s tragic incident.
“Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum’s day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment,’ said SeaWorld Orlando’s animal training curator Kelly Flaherty-Clark in a statement.
Tilikum, who was previously involved in the death of a trainer while at Sealand, as well as the 1999 death of a homeless man who entered his pool at SeaWorld after hours, will reportedly make an appearance during a late-morning performance of the popular killer-whale show “Believe.”
Marine experts say Tilikum is naturally aggressive because he is a ‘transient’ whale rather than a ‘resident.’ Resident whales live in a fixed location in the ocean whereas transients travel for miles eating a killing anyone that gets in their way. Tilikum is programmed to always be traveling and aggressive.
Federal officials aren’t too concerned about Tilikum but fear for the lives of the trainers. According to ABC News, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that SeaWorld showed indifference and intentional disregard for employee safety by exposing workers to drowning hazards when they interact with killer whales.
Many thought that Tilikum was being kept only to serve as a 6 ton sperm donor for SeaWorld’s bizarre sperm collectionoperation but with this move, it’s clear they want to get more bang for their buck. People will come out in droves to see the ‘killer’ killer whale in real life. Hopefully they don’t have to witness another death of a trainer before they realize the whole situation is wrong.
Despite safety measures that have since been put in place — trainers are kept further away, guardrails have been installed around the pool — critics remain skeptical. “If you had a friend that had a dog that had mauled three people, would you go play with that dog?’ says former dolphin trainer Russ Rector.
“These people only care about the show. They never learn.”