The strangest theme park injury yet....

April 10, 2007, 11:03 PM · I can imagine (and have seen) many different ways to get hurt in a theme park, but this has to be the most bizarre one yet.

This one's gonna end up in ER lore: "Um, you got hurt doing what?"

Replies (9)

April 11, 2007 at 7:35 AM · Wow...i thought i had heard it all, but that caught me completely off guard. I'm glad the trainer is allright. But, I didnt know they werent allowing trainers in the water with the whales anymore. Man, that show must suck now. Anyone been there after that rule took affect to see the shows? How is it now?
April 11, 2007 at 9:35 AM · Sounds like that'd be awkward. Definetely not one to tell the kids.
April 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM · I wasn't aware that the trainers were no longer allowed in the water with the whales, either. I hope this isn't so... even though I'm really not going to see the trainers themselves. It'd be weird to see how they do a show without the trainers being able to really interact with the whales. We're planning to go to San Diego SeaWorld this June so I'll have to keep my eye out for that.
April 11, 2007 at 12:45 PM · This sounds like a TV show!

Anyway, it would be a shame if trainers aren't allowed in the water anymore.

Maybe I missed this, but this wasn't in front of guests was it? I think not. Actually I really hope not!

April 11, 2007 at 1:57 PM · See, not the same as the real thing is it!
April 11, 2007 at 3:16 PM · Maybe she should have wined and dined the whale first. :)
April 12, 2007 at 6:59 AM · First: Let me add my well wishes for the trainer involved. I'm glad they weren't badly hurt, and I wish them a swift recovery.

With that said: I believe the media is overreacting, based on the tone of the NBC article and the fact that it actually made national news. I also believe Sea World handled it perfectly by stopping water work for now.

First, it seems to me like the media is making a huge deal out of a routine risk. Considering the mass of a typical orca vs. the mass of a typical human, even a slight nudge would be enough to knock said human off balance. Elementary physics.

Back when Marine World/Africa USA was still around, in Belmont, one of the trainers managed to get their nose broken when Yaka (one of the orcas) misjudged a high jump. The media got hold of the story, but it barely rated a sidebar on page six, despite the fact that it was a more serious injury than just getting bumped.

I can only conclude that the media's breathless coverage of this little hiccup is because it happened at Sea World. The fact that the whale was undergoing AI (a common procedure with Sea World orcas these days) at the time is merely incidental, though I'm sure the media will hype that particular bit to the max, just for the "shock" effect.

If it had happened at any other oceanarium, one that doesn't depend on a business model of trying to sell Nature as a packaged commodity, I doubt we'd have heard about it at all.

As for the water work: If Sea World says that it has now stopped putting trainers in the water for whale shows, then yes, they have indeed stopped. I've known their corporate training director for many years, and if he says 'OK, we're stopping water work for now' then it will be stopped. Period.

I don't see that as a bad thing, not when trainer safety is involved.

The same thing happened years ago, at San Diego, after another trainer was much more seriously injured (broken pelvis, etc.) after being squeezed between two whales during a show. He recovered, but he left the marine mammal field after doing so.

Waterwork was stopped then as well, but it was a temporary thing. Whether this will be temporary remains to be seen, but I will say that trainer safety when working with animals this big and powerful has to come first in all things, especially over show production values.

Keep the peace(es).

April 12, 2007 at 9:47 AM · The reason for the breathless coverage is not because it happened at SeaWorld. It's because it involves someone artificially inseminating a whale. That's a mental image just too absurd to comprehend without laughing, for most folks.
April 12, 2007 at 10:26 PM · While the headline certainly makes for an amusing image (one that I think would have been doubly so had a male whale been involved), I think we're going to agree to disagree on this one. I still think that if this had happened at any other park it would have rated nothing more than a sidebar (if that).

If you look back at past incidents of trainer/animal mishaps at Sea World, I recall that they all got broad and sensationalistic coverage. In other words, they've ALL been "breathless" in one way or another.

If you can point me to similar news items from ANY other oceanarium that is NOT connected with Sea World in any way, stories that also got national and "breathless" coverage, then I will cheerfully admit I was mistaken and STFU.

Keep the peace(es).

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