Last summer, while I was down in Florida for vacation, my family decided to go to Sea World for the day. One of the things I clearly remember was the “Shamu Rocks” that we saw in the evening. This show combines music, killer whales, their trainers, and special effects in an amazing show. This past Wednesday, Dawn Blancheau, the head orca trainer, was killed when she was pulled into the water by Tilikum, the largest killer whale held in captivity. The picture above, taking during the show, gives you a perspective on how massive this animal is. Weighing over 12,500 pounds, twice the normal size of a killer whale, this animal represented a huge asset to the Sea World parks, because he was used to father 12 calves, as well as for artificial insemination. Now that I gave you some background, here are some of my thoughts:
- An animal, no matter how big, how small, or how well trained, will act on instinct. According to reports, Mrs. Blancheau was pulled in when her pony tail touched the whales nose while she was hugging it following a show. The huge animal felt this, and probably thought it was a seal or other animal and pulled her underwater causing her to drown. Even the common house pets exhibit similar behavior, and will act on instincts they carried over before becoming domesticated.
- These large animals are very sensitive to isolation. Orcas and other sea animals are very social, often traveling in groups out in the open ocean. When you take one of these large creatures and place them in a small tank such as in an aquarium setting, this places a huge deal of stress on the animal. Just like with humans, this can cause psychological problems in the future, even more of a reason as to why this animal could have done something terrible like this.
- I am NOT trying to take any sides here. All of those organizations such as PETA, Greenpeace, and the like all have their own opinions about this, and I do not feel like I need to take any one particular side on this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy, and I will support SeaWorld with any decisions that they make in the future.