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SeaWorld to allow whale trainers back in the water

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Published: February 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM

SeaWorld just announced that it will soon allow whale trainers back in the water, for the first time since the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau last year. According to Orlando television station WESH, trainers will begin slowly interacting with orcas in medical pools equipped with movable bottoms that can be lifted out of the water.

Orca at SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld also reportedly plans on spending millions of dollars on safety upgrades for the facilities at its three locations.

Readers' Opinions

From Victoria Jurkowski on February 23, 2011 at 8:04 PM
I'm just curious on where they are getting this "millions of dollars." When they put the fancy moving screens into the Shamu show, prices all over the park skyrocketed. We didn't visit for a long time after that because everything was so expensive. I sure hope this doesn't raise prices, but I bet it will. At least a new show with trainers back in the water might draw people to the park, though I'm curious to see if the interaction is different and how.
From 97.104.219.127 on February 23, 2011 at 8:13 PM
It is about time. Cant wait to see them back doing what they love!
From 64.237.246.179 on February 24, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Wow surprising news! (in my opinion) I was pretty sure when they announced a new show it was in part because it wouldn't have trainers in the water. (as I presume a lot of other folks thought so too) I guess they may have some other new rules, or guidelines to follow. I'm intrigued now to see what's new and what is better or worse in this show, against the previous Believe 1.0, and Believe 1.5 (without trainers)show.

I really would had understood if they didn't put the trainers back in the water. Although I know it would probably been a lesser show. I just think Seaworld needs to be hoping in the that in the future this move won't come back to literally bite them in the...!

-Francisco

From Rob P on February 24, 2011 at 2:57 AM
Firstly I'd like to welcome the return of trainers to the water. I think it's always been an integral part of the performance and, although it has it's dangers, I believe that the safety of the animals and trainers has been evaluated correctly.

I'm not sure that I agree with the argument against increased charges to meet improvements . The alternative view might be that they have always overcharged in order to build a "war chest" for improvements. I prefer to think ( and I might well be wrong ) that they have charged sensibly and then increased prices to meet extra investment costs. Either way we, ultimately, have to pay for whatever entertainment is provided. Nothing comes for free and if the extra prices mean we get an improved Seaworld then I'm in favour of that.

From Joshua Counsil on February 24, 2011 at 8:40 AM
Great. Now people are going to get NASCAR syndrome and watch the shows only to see if somebody gets attacked.
From Robert Niles on February 24, 2011 at 8:57 AM
Let's not forget that trainers in the medical pool isn't the same as trainers in the show tank during a performance. It might be a long while before we see that, if we ever do.
From Daniel Etcheberry on February 24, 2011 at 9:20 AM
Anyone remembers when there was interaction between the whales and kids from the audience? The good old days :)
From 94.173.9.23 on February 24, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Maybe that $7,000,000 should be used to build a bigger pool for the Orca's. Looking on Google Earth you can see just how little room these massive animals have to live in.
From Bruce Lane on February 24, 2011 at 8:08 PM
I find this news most interesting, as well as a little disturbing.

After a longer-than-normal wait, I finally received some information on the original incident I had asked OSHA for under FOIA. I've not yet had a chance to go through it in detail (there's quite a bit, and quite a few intriguing redactions), but one thing I did learn is the investigation is not yet considered closed. This is the exact wording in the response letter I received.

"...The inspection is not yet a closed case file and therefore additional documents may be added to the case file before it's closed."

Over a year since the incident, and the case file remains open? Seems a little long, even for a government agency. Makes me wonder what, exactly, they're still trying to determine, and why.

Happy travels.

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