Published: March 1, 2010 at 3:01 PM
I am acquaintances with most trainers since I go on a WEEKLY basis. I knew dawn, and have seen her perform many times. It was really hard to hear and my thoughts and prayers go out to her, her family, and the Seaworld staff but here are the facts:
1. here is the biggest fact that everyone overlooks: the other two incidents cannot be blamed solely on telly or on him in the first place: the other two incidents, as reports have stated, are as follows: in 1991 there were two other whales involved besides telly, two females, so you cant pin the blame on telly alone if in fact he even caused any of it, he MIGHT have even been trying to help the trainer. Orcas are very smart second only to humans. Reports from the incident with the homeless man state clearly that Cause of death was HYPOTHERMIA and DROWNING. It is not a stretch to propose that Telly's bite mark may have been because he took the man in his mouth to save him. There was no blunt force trauma that would happen if a whale was intentionally biting because like dogs they shake their prey, like sea lions, to kill them. No one can officially declare that he has "attacked" at all. It would not be a stretch to say he was actually being the good guy in any occasion.
2. It is rumored that telly might have realized what had happened and instead of him "thrashing her around", could have been trying to help her and get her out of the water. This is not a stretch because Dawn has been like his mother since she has worked with him the most. Think of it this way: He is a very smart animal, if you were him would you want to kill the person that fed you and played with you and made your life worth living the most? Saying he attacked her makes no sense to me. I watch those whales and you can tell they love their trainers because you can tell the bond when the trainers get in the water with them.
3. There is a video posted online (http://www.wesh.com/video/22671481/index.html) showing minutes before the incident, but not the incident itself, and you can clearly see Dawn and Telly were in a very playful mood, never did he "lash out" or "Attack" her, he was playing and he got overstimulated and since he is an animal he does not understand his strength and the fact he is over 60 times her size
4. Contrary to what everyone is saying the name "Killer whales" is not referring to the whales with people, "Killer Whales" is actually referring to predatorial instincts in the wild Killer whales are not considered a threat to humans.
5. The incident had NOTHING to do with the way the whales were contained nor treated. For all the whales knew, the tank was the ocean. All of them were bread in Captivity so that WAS their ocean. And interacting with the trainers was how they hunted in the sense that that is how they got food.
6. I read somewhere where someone said that the end of a training session is the most dangerous which is completely false. The whales understand there is no more fish and have NEVER lashed out at a trainer because of it. They know they have a certain diet. This is a completely bogus statement. Everyone is making it seem like these whales are barbarians, while they are still wild animals they are almost as smart as humans!
7. That being said, The "tricks" trained in the shows are nothing more than natural behaviors performed on command, and not only is this a way of stimulating the whales mentally AND physically but it helps the trainers take care of them for example: When the trainer asks the whale to put his fin up, that is a KEY command when veterinarians and the animal care staff examine him, it is called a "present" and it is one of the most basic commands not only Whales are given, but also given to all animals in zoological parks and aquariums that can be trained. The "Breach Maneuvers" or, when the whales jump out of the water is a natural behavior as well, and is done in the wild, especially when hunting so the whale can see above water. If the trainers did not teach these commands, the staff would have NO control of the animals, and having no control is dangerous for the staff, the animal, and the other animals around it, AND it is very hard to transport or take care of an animal if they do not have control of the situation. So the commands would be given regardless if they were in a show or not, the shows are just "Showcases" of what the animals are capable of learning and doing and they are just theatrically staged so they arent as boring as "now the whale will do this, now he will do this and now I will ask him to do this", it has a purpose! It in not just for entertainment!!!! Entertainment is a byproduct of this.
7. The education department in Seaworld is one of the largest fields of work second only to animal care & husbandry, this proves Seaworld is in it for the education not only the entertainment. You also have to realize how much the bill is to take care of these beautiful animals so a portion of admission profits pretty much go to the conservation of the resident animals if you want to think of it that way. The high admission is not to see how much money seaworld can get from you. They are pretty much charging you what they expect their bills are going to be. They don't want to raise prices anymore than you want them to because that deters people away. They want to be as accessible as they can to everyone they can so that they can teach everyone about "this beautiful world we all share"
8. In regards to the conservations aspect: The Sea World & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund conducts grant awards each year. Since 2003, the SWBGCF has granted $1.3 million to more than 100 projects in 25 countries on six continents. Selected projects must be science-based, solution-driven, and community-oriented - attributes needed to achieve effective and long-term conservation success. Groups working on animal conservation projects are invited to apply for a SWBGCF grant. Projects are carefully selected by a diverse mix of wildlife experts, scientists, business leaders, and educators. also check out this website: http://www.seaworld.org/ask-shamu/faq.htm#killer-whales and specifically look at Questions # 5 & 7, and you will be able to see all of the conservation and rehabilitation efforts that no guests ever see. If this was just an entertainment and profit park why would it Rehabilitate a gray whale just to release it back into the wild since a gray whale would be a HUGE draw since no one else has ever held one in captivity? and why would they make any of these attempts to save these animals if the guests wont even be paying money to see them or even realizing it for that matter? and the fact that there was very little publicity on any of these occasions, I don't think they did it for their reputation. Also go to http://www.hswri.org/ to see the organization founded my seaworld, that guests never see.
PLEASE, if you're going to point fingers at seaworld, and make false accusations, just read the facts first! Seaworld has done more good for the animals and world for that matter than any animal rights activists! What have animal rights activists done besides picket, rally and boycott? Have they gone out to an oil spill and rescued and rehabilitated 50% of the african pelican population? I think not. As they say, actions are ALOT louder than words and I think these Facts prove this. Seaworld is one of the best things that has happened to this world and if not for seaworld we would not know as much as we do about this beautiful world we share. Thanks to everyone that read this whole post and did not quit reading because they didn't want to face facts, and I sincerely urge you that if you are against seaworld, you look at the big picture and how vital it is to this earth!