DEATH AT SEAWORLD brings J,K and L pod’s story home to Puget Sound

click to jump to Seattle PI story

This Monday night, best-selling author David Kirby along with Naomi Rose of the HSUS, and three former SeaWorld orca trainers, Jeff Ventre, Carol Ray and Samantha Berg will be speaking at The Mountaineers near Magnuson Park.   Kirby’s book, DEATH AT SEAWORLD, is a complex story that includes the brutal capture of Puget Sound orcas in Penn Cove  and the industry that perpetuated and covered up cruelty and atrocities committed against these animals.  The book is expertly reviewed here in Digital Journal.

Event information: Monday, July 23 ▪ SEATTLE, WA, The Mountaineers, 7:30 – 10:00 PM, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

About the Book:

DEATH AT SEAWORLD introduces the real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. Kirby follows the story of Naomi Rose Ph.D., marine mammal scientist for The Humane Society of the United States and senior scientist for The Humane Society International, whose warnings against keeping killer whales in captivity fell on deaf ears.  He also covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA vs. SeaWorld case. On May 30, 2012, the judge ruled on this case, stating that trainers performing with huge ocean predators need to be protected by physical barriers, or some other means providing the same level of safety.  The strict standard could effectively prevent SeaWorld from ever allowing its trainers to get back into the water during shows with the whales.

Kirby also introduces the reader to various killer whales, also known as orcas, (who are actually the world’s largest dolphins) and how they rarely, if ever, harm humans in the wild and are among the smartest animals in the world.

He can discuss the following shocking points:

¨ There are no records at any time in history of wild orcas seriously attacking or killing a person, but in captivity, aggressive acts against trainers are not uncommon, sometimes ending in severe injury or death.

¨ Some 15% of all orcas ever held in SeaWorld’s collection have been involved in acts of serious aggression against trainers, a dismal safety record that would never be tolerated in other industries.

¨ Orcas at SeaWorld have lunged at trainers, pulled them in the water, held them at the bottom of the pool, head-butted them, slammed them with tail flukes and breached on top of them.

¨ The 12,000 pound Tilikum – the world’s largest captive predator – killed Canadian trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991, attacked Daniel Dukes, a man who snuck into the tank in 1999 but did not make it out, and brutally killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

¨ To date, SeaWorld has spent $65 million since Dawn Brancheau’s death on high-tech safety features such as quick-rising false bottoms for pools and emergency “spare air” oxygen systems for orca trainers at the Shamu Stadiums in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

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