This past week in a U.S. District Court in Orlando, Florida, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defended the government's job safety citations against Sea World. The government claims that the fun park's management operated an unsafe work environment for its employees who work with Orcas. At issue was the tragic death last year of a Sea World trainer in the jaws of Tilikum, a six ton male Orca that had been involved in two previous human deaths.
As might be expected, the fun park's attorneys vigorously defended their client, claiming the woman's death was simply an unfortunate accident in which Tilikum unintentionally drowned her after her long ponytail drifted into his mouth. Government witnesses countered that the huge dolphin (yes, Orcas are dolphins not whales) grabbed her arm not her hair, and attacked her viciously causing injuries far too graphic to repeat here. As in all such legal cases of "we say, they say" the truth is hard to determine; and in fairness to Sea World's legal counsel, they are not being paid to find the truth, only to defend their client's definition of what the truth is.
Testimony will not resume again until mid-November; however, one salient fact is clear, a loving and lovely young woman is dead, and her killer remains trapped in a tiny concrete tank barely twice as long as his body. This troubled behemoth is freed only briefly to perform stupid tricks before audiences who are either oblivious to the cruelty inherent in the actions of his mercenary owners, or apathetic to them. Keeping Orcas in captivity is a tragedy of limitless proportions and I think Ms. Diane McNally, a cetacean rights activist and writer, said it best in her recent Victoria Times Colonist article titled, "Orcas wont' eat us, but we can kill their souls" (see link below).
Sea World is killing the souls of every Orca they keep, and each time the public goes to one of their fun parks they become accomplices to Sea World's crimes of crass and commercial inhumanity. Perhaps one day, after the lawyers have gone home, and the trainers have gone back in the water, and the next human being is killed by one of these tormented souls, then maybe finally, we the people will rise up and say, Enough!