A historic event is happening in our lifetime folks.
Last year on February 24th, 2010 a senior trainer by the name of Dawn Branchaeu was dragged under the water by a 6 ton Orca by the name of Tilikum. Since then, SeaWorld has been slapped with lawsuits by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These lawsuits stating that SeaWorld willfully put their trainers in danger. Since then SeaWorld has added new rules to handling killer whales. Trainers are no longer able to enter the water with the whales. Female trainers have to tie their hair back in tight buns. Trainers aren't allowed to touch or hug around the whales mouths unless their is a Guard Rail or Physical barrier separating them. Two weeks ago, SeaWorld took OSHA to court against these rulings. The first witness called to the stand was Kelly Flaherty Clark, director of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando. She did not witness the death of Dawn but did have things to say about handling Orca's. Last year alone, three killer whales died. One at SeaWorld of San Diego and one at Orlando. Clark said, "Each whale could of been saved if we could of been in the water with them. We would of known right away if there was something wrong with them and we could of saved them." In that time, she broke down into tears. "The Original Baby shamu, Kalina was the whale that I built a relationship with. She was the first whale I ever jumped into the water with and we hit it out right from the start. She was our baby girl..." Kalina was among the three killer whales to die. Taima a female, died while birthing complications while Sumar died of Pnemonia.
SeaWorld spokesperson Jim Atchison says that the entire world is following this case. If the court favors in OSHA then all marine parks and zoos around the world will be affected by the way they handle large animals.
Why am I posting this? Because I work as a trainer at the Minnesota Zoo with the dolphins. Dolphins are cousins of the Orca's, and my company and bosses are watching the case closely. If they find in favor of SeaWorld we will no longer be able to work in the water with Dolphins.
Post your opinions and ideas here. I would love to hear them!