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Killer Whale and a Dead Trainer

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Hi to you and your significant others this morning.

I am a little fuzzy after having to do an emergency eye removal last night. A dog was in a fight, had his eye punctured, and it would not stop bleeding.

He’s doing well now.

The Killer Whale Story


Here’s what happened..

ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau died Wednesday from “multiple traumatic injuries and drowning” after a killer whale pulled her underwater by her long ponytail near the theme park’s Shamu Stadium, autopsy results released Thursday revealed.

As horrified fellow trainers and visitors to the theme park watched, the 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum shook and tossed Brancheau and circled around in a tank with her arm in his mouth, witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel.

Brancheau, 40, was petting and otherwise interacting with the killer whale in knee-deep water about 2 p.m. Wednesday when he grabbed her by the ponytail and wouldn’t let go, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office determined.


P.S. An all around horrible story – on top of the fact that Tillicum had been involved in another Trainers death at the Vancouver Aquarium.

What is the value of holding these large wild predators in captivity?

In the ocean killer whales can wander for hundreds, even thousands of kilometers, swimming at speeds exceeding 50 km/h, one of the fastest marine mammals.

Is it ANY WONDER that this clearly smart and distant traveling animal, when CONFINED to a small tank barely a few of it’s body lengths, leaving it’s pod ( family) and forced to swim it’s life in a chemical soup would do UNPREDICTABLE things?

The behavior that led to the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau is similar to a hunting technique used by the whales in the wild.

Unfortunately Tilikum has little to no chance of surviving in the wild – he’s become adapted to captivity.

The Killer Whale from the movie ‘Free Willy’ was released, but he ended up following boats at a port in Norway – he had accepted humans as part of his family. He later died of pneumonia.

Is there MUCH value in having Killer Whales in captivity?


If you want to see a Killer Whale, spend some time on BC’s West Coast- I passed by some this summer traveling in my small fishing boat from Galiano to Saltspring Island.

Feel free to leave your thoughts here – click the ‘Comments’ link.

Heal Your Pet At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM


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Topics: Pet health | 55 Comments »

55 Responses to “Killer Whale and a Dead Trainer”

  1. Avatar Marcy OBrien Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I so agree with you on this. As humans I would like to think we no longer need to be “entertained” by captive animals. Leave the animals, mammals, all of them, alone. If we aren’t there to help make their lives better, then we don’t need to be there at all.

  2. Avatar Christine Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Amen! and Amen….. It is cruel and heartbreaking to see any wildlife held in captivity. Our ancestors made it through life, just fine, without looking at a lion in a cage or a whale in a pond.

  3. Avatar Chantelle Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    A horrible accident but neither trainer nor whale can be held at fault. I love all animals and so do my kids but I ALWAYS warn them- as cute and cuddle as a dog or cat may be they are still animals and can become unpredictable for reasons we may not even consider – such as a thorn in a paw, a scare, stomach upset, etc We get irritable when sick – why can’t they?? Because they can’t communicate with us we need to ALWAYS be a bit on guard. My heart goes to the family of the trainer. At least she spent time on this planet doing something she appeared to love.

  4. Avatar sarah Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I, myself, feel what is wild should be left wild, because, as we all should know, what is wild, no matter how trained, interacted with humans, they are still wild and will some day, just like Tillicum did on the day he drowned Denice, act out in the ways they will always know…Wild, Let these animals, mammials live, not entertain, let them be as GOD created them…FREE!!

  5. Avatar Cheryl Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    When will we ever learn, that wild animals are best left in the wild where they can live out there lives in their natural environment. How would we like to be held captive in one room, and made to perform tricks for the entertainment of others? So sad.

  6. Avatar Amie Foster Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I usually keep my own thoughts to myself when I read comments on forums etc. However this particular tragedy has really got to me. My own thoughts are that I do not understand why on earth we would want to put these beautiful and intelligent sea animals under such stressful conditions such as in a glorified bath tub! And then ask them to perform for our own pleasure and entertainment to become nothing more than circus freaks. Personally I feel nothing but sadness for animals held in captivity for perfomance reasons – it’s simply wrong. I would argue that this was a case of protest and frustration by the whale – if it’s happened before then why aren’t they learning from this?

  7. Avatar Pat Macha Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:21 am

    love your articles….I’ve had 3 cats over the years and an assortment of dogs (1 @ a time-til now) Cock-a-poo-setter, Doberman (lived to be a healthy 13yr old!), Silky Terrier, Bull Mastiff who is now 7 yr and another Doberman 2yrs….I agree with your article…we need to STOP believing we are HELPING these animals(from the wild!). WE -IN FLORIDA are having a PROBLEM with PYTHONS….I refuse to buy any supplies from a place that SELLS pedigree animals or ANY LIVE ANIMALS…! Please keep up the great work….!!!
    PM from Florida

  8. Avatar Debra Owen Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    The whale was acting naturally.The trainer should have been well aware of the risks before she ever got into the tank. She became terminally complacent about the whale’s potential dangerous behavior. People in diving suits also resemble seals…natural food for a whale or shark. Humans usually exploit wild animals – more out of greed – than wanting to learn about them. Once they are captive…they are doomed to die if released back into their habitat. Humans can be cruel creatures.

  9. Avatar Carol Johnston Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I agree 100% with Amie. I used to think what a wonderful, exciting thing it would be to actually be a trainer and work with these beautiful animals. But, after what’s happened, and as much as we enjoy watching them up close, it’s just not fair to these amazing creatures to take them from their natural environment simply for the purpose of making money on them. Like Andrew said, if you want to see a killer whale, go to the coast of B.C. and you will see some wonderful sights. Maybe you can’t get up close, but so what! They were not meant to be confined in a tiny enclosure for our entertainment. They should be free. Poor Tillikum will never have the chance to be free, now that he can’t survive in the wild. He is relegated to a life of misery and unpredictability. They have said they intend to keep him because he’s worth millions to keep him in their breeding program. What a price this beautiful, intelligent whale has to pay for man’s greed!

  10. Avatar Robin Keller Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I agree with other comments made that animals should be free and not be put into captivity for our amusement. Just like the bull that killed his owner that was in the news the other day. Nobody knows what happend to make the bull kill his owner, however they are now going to destroy this bull because his owner is dead. I know that owner would not want that bull to be destroyed just because it acted like it should if it was left in the wild and not made into a pet.

  11. Avatar Vera Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Although seeing the wild up close and personal is fabulous, we are only thinking of ourselves. There are many ways to see the wild and we should choose those options rather then seeing the wild in captivity. I once thought about swimming with the dolphins, but once I saw the pens they were in, my whole view changed. To swim with mammals in their own environment is one thing, to swim with them in a cage is another.

  12. Avatar Jane Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I do think this tragedy is heart breaking for both the whale and the trainer. This whale was originally at a very small aquaruim in Victoria where I had the opportunity to see him. It was totally heart breaking because his tank was so small and when he killed his trainer there, they decided that he should be moved to an aquarium where he would be able to interact with other whales and have a much larger tank. Obviously that has not worked since he has taken another life. This all reminds me of when elephants get angry and kill their trainers. These animals belong in the wild with their own species. As for what happens with Tillikum now, I sure hope they can find a very large enclosure for him with other whales and lots of stimulation.
    The whales in the wild are also suffering. The local pods living near Victoria are suffering from lack of food, having to spend their entire day searching for food and dodging tour boats that have come to watch them during every daylight hour. I think it is time that we put our amazing technology to use for something good. Aquaruims should be using holographs. Whale watching tours should be reduced and limited to very specific times of the day. It’s time to give the whales a break!

  13. Avatar Linda Hardy Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I live in Florida. I don’t go to the local zoo. I’ve never been to SeaWorld nor the Alligator Farm (20 minutes from where I live). The only circus I see is Cirque de Soleil. I completely agree with everyone who is against wild animals being held in captivity. There is no reason that these places exist today. If someone wants to learn about a particular animal and doesn’t have the funds to go see them, they have their public liabrary and the internet to learn all about them. My heart goes out to Dawn’s family. This tragedy never should have been able to happen.

  14. Avatar Karen Williams Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I would like to see all animals allowed to roam free. But that is not the society we have created for them or for ourselves. If we didn’t have zoos generations of humans would have picture books only.
    If we didn’t have zoos we would have more extinct animal species than I would care to think about. So what is the answer? Not a great one I’m afraid. We have to provide food, clothing and shelter for all the animals we have captured. But I don’t think they should have to dance for their supper.

  15. Avatar Ann B. Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Unfortunately most humans have become accustomed to having close up visual experience and some interaction with our wild life co-inhabitants of this world due to the intrepid explorers who capture live prey and show it off to the public,that started back ages past. These led to Zoo’s and traveling carnivals and circuses. Many of the initial wild animals have been very successfully been domesticated to our needs and though some tragic deaths occur even with these species dogs, horses, elephants that do labor tasks for us in various parts of the world we still are drawn to the thrill of seeing these wonderful wild life species.most obvious looking at the large pet industry that now exists.
    I hope we can kick the habit and stop the promotion of entertainment only needs and concentrate on the saving the species that we continue to threaten by our overpopulation of the world and give back some of their habitat instead of continuing to propagate to an extreme our own species which then condemns the wild population to extinction due to loss and pollution of their habitat.

  16. Avatar Charlotte Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    You said it better than anyone could have. Too bad we can’t convince people that we shouldn’t be entertained at the expense of the expense of the animals. It is cruel. I wonder how we would feel if it was reversed.

  17. Avatar karine langley Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Wild animals are best seen in the wild. The idea that animals can be captive and used for entertainment stems from a complete disregard and misunderstanding of animal rights. The only time animals should be kept in captivity is to preserve them if they are endangered and this should be used to educate us.

    Keeping such beautiful creatures in a cage also distracts us from the fact that we are destroying their (and our) natural habitat. We assume all is well when we see them.

  18. Avatar Tanya Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I felt very bad when I heard about the trainer’s demise. She was doing what she loved which was the good part.
    When I was in college, I did a Research paper on killer whales in captivity. I found out that they wander over 50 miles a day in search of food, etc. It is no wonder that they have so much pent up rage – if that is what you call it. Whales in captivity will also sometimes hold their baby calves down at the bottom of the tank to try and drown them and probably for the same reason … an un-natural environment. When accidents like this occur, man has no one else to blame but himself. No one has the right to disrupt the natural course of nature.

  19. Avatar carole evans Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I agree that wild animals should never be held in captivity for the “amusment” of people, it is an iniquitous practise and I would never pay to see animals performing, it is a tragedy that deaths occured, perhaps it will cause a rethink on keeping these wonderful creatures in ccaptivity, I know I am unlikely to see for real a wild orca whale but this does not mean I want to see one in totally artificial surroundings either

  20. Avatar Heidi Schlatter Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    This to me is the ultimate example of man’s arrogance. Everything that makes up our world and beyond is supposed to be his to use, control, & manipulate as he feels like it. Nature has very powerful built-in rules and man continually steps into things he should leave be.
    The only wild animals that should ever be taken into captivity are those saved from calamity and then incapable of surviving in the wild after their rehabilitation. Such animals could be viewed by people to generate money for their care and well-being, but never trained to behave in abnormal ways to be used for our own amusement.

  21. Avatar Coralie Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    It is so sad,we should never capture wild preditors and keep them for entertainment.
    This is just another industry in it for the money. it has nothing to do with entertaining the public, its a case of how much money can be made by using these “attractions”.
    The best way to stop this is to stay away from these places. If the owners don´t make any money these “attractions” will disappear for good.
    Take your children and grandchildren on a fishing trip or hike in the country. Just stay away from anywhere that keeps preditors for entertainment purposes and explain why. Give the kids the DVD´s “Save Willy 1&2, they will understand. These films are educational and show the “other side of swimming around in a small tank” I know they give rather a romatic view of killer whales, but at least children can relate to “love” and not “show”.

  22. Avatar patricia dawson Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    animals should not be in captivity,it is so sad to see them caged. it was rather stupid of the trainer to be in the water like that,no matter how long the poor whale had been in captivity,it is still dangerous.

  23. Avatar puppydazzles Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I agree that these large wild animals need to stay in their own surroundings. My heart goes out to the trainer’s family.

  24. Avatar Dagmar Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    It is so sad that we humans think we need to keep wild animals in zoos or other entertainment parks and if those tragic things happen, they are called “accidents”. I do not call them accidents as it is only a matter of time that it happens. And the orca we know as Free Willy? He died from pneumonia as he saw himself as a human, then we ‘released’ him and he was grieving. According to TCM grief is related to respiratory disorder and that is how we killed him.

  25. Avatar deann Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    soo sad not the whales fault for being an wild animal, sooo sad for the woman, the results for entertainment is just nonsense,, like the shrine circus undercover torturing animals to train them, sooo sad!!!!!! hope it will change forever!!!!!!

  26. Avatar Lynn Berkery Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I read that this whale was caught in the wild 30 years ago and has been at various marine show locations since the early ’90s. I’m very sorry for the trainer, who apparently really loved the whales. I’m very very sorry for the whale however, who is the biggest victim.

  27. Avatar joe Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I agree with your comment with all my heart.

  28. Avatar Sandra Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I believe that all animals’ behaviour is unpredictable (this is true with domestic animals so why on earth we would think that wild animals are any different). I love all animals. I agree with you whole-heartedly and it appears from this comment section that most of your readers agree too that these orcas should not be held in captivity. Now the question becomes one of what does the rest of the population think and if they agree then why don’t we do something to stop this ongoing cruelty to nature’s wild creatures. It is so sad that we have become a disposable society and are good grounded values from our grandparents generation is long gone (what ever happened to look but don’t touch)? Stop captivity and enjoy viewing these magnificent creatures in their own environment!

  29. Avatar Hilary Jordan Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    You mentioned that Tilikum had previously killed a trainer at a Vancouver Aquarium. Actually the tragic incident happened at Sealand of the Pacific in Oak Bay, Victoria B.C. in 1991. The trainer’s name was Keltie Byrne, she also dearly loved Tilikum. Such a sad story. Once again, wild animals should not be kept in captivity for our entertainment. Unfortunately we have no choice but to accept the consequence and learn from it, otherwise the pattern is bound to repeat itself with more tragic results.

  30. Avatar Marsha Hayes Walker Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    No more whales OR dolphins should be captured and trained. They are wild and should be allowed to remain wild. It is obscene to train these animals for human entertainment, close to the ancient practice of pitting lions and Christians. Enough already. And for the ones in captivity now, let them go. Unfortunately, some may die and some may live, but they won’t be miserable in captivity.

  31. Avatar Jane Says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I agree with everything you said.

    I think it is especially sad to see Tillikum all alone in the tiny tank he is in now.

    I am not convinced he meant to kill his trainer — could he have been playing with her? Does he understand that she could not stay underwater like he does?

    The other cases where he “killed” people — the homeless guy for instance — did he drown himself, leaving the whale to take the blame?

    In the first instance, there were other whales involved — that story is also murky in my humble opinion.

    I know it is too late for him to return to the wild, but I hope they put him in a larger facility, like the one the whale from Free Willy eventually wound up in — after they realized he couldn’t be set free. I heard someone on TV talking about it — I forget the term she used.

    It breaks my heart to see his fin flopping on it’s side rather than straight up like they are on wild whales.

    I also don’t like to see dolphins kept in captivity. There are stories of them protecting people from sharks in the wild — seems like a lousy way to repay them.

  32. Avatar Mike Says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I know not only whales can break down and go nuts but elephants do the same too. I wonder if these huge animals are tired or overburdoned of being told what to do just like the rest of us humans are capable of feeling the same stressful viewpoint. We can talk but they can’t so we need to understand they have their own language. When they are really stressed, their last option is to unleash their frustration.
    Because of our failure to recognize their feelings they plead to be returned to freedom in the wild rather than to be confined and/or tied up.

  33. Avatar Jane Says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Since you mentioned elephants — I know some trainers use cattle prods on them, so of course they go nuts.

    Check out a little-know Bill Murray film, Larger than Life.

    Now I wonder — are cattle prods used on whales?

  34. Avatar Sherry Says:
    March 6th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I’m sure glad we never let our small children get kissed by one of the killer whales. It’s been years, but Sea World used to invite the children to do this. Hopefully that practice has stopped.

  35. Avatar Liane Says:
    March 6th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I agree with you one hundred percent. Killer whales as well as other species of animals should
    not be held captive. It is against their nature.
    We as people are being selfish for our own benefit. Is not right to take away their freedom
    and the predatory instinct they were born with.
    This terrible incident is not and will not be the last that we see.

  36. Avatar Donna Mae Baukat Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 5:00 am

    I’ve never understood the reason for capturing and training Killer Whales or any other animal from the wild. As the description implies, the whale that killed Dawn Brancheau is a Killer. Just for the sake of money, the captors don’t care much for the animal. If they did, the tank would have been much larger than it is. The fact that this Killer Whale has a history of one other killing is sufficient to bring the animal under much tighter control. He should be moved to a much larger arena or to a safer environment where no humans will be able to touch him. God told us we have control over all living things. He will look down on what we do with our God-given gift and will judge us for what we do. In this case, it won’t be the whale that will be judged. P.S. I was saddened about the fact that the whale portraying Willy died in Norway of pneumonia. He depended on humans to feed and nurture him. It’s despicable.

  37. Avatar Av Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    If nobody went to the “shows” then there would be no profit to be made and there would be no whales/dolphins/seals/elephants etc etc in captivity performing tricks for human amusement. These whales are caught in the wild in the most tragic way – torn from their families.
    The training is horrific – food is not given to them until they start ‘behaving’ and following instructions. Eventually they are so hungry they do what the human trainer wants. So they are starved into submission. The majority of these whales are in seaparks in the USA (also some in Japan,France,Spain)

  38. Avatar Anne Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    It seems to me that Tilikum would be insane after so long in such a cramped environment. Predators, and we are the most developed, are also the most intelligent and fragile mentally. Cats and dogs are also highly developed predators – it may be one reason we have such close relationships with them. They are similar to us. We flatter ourselves in believing they enjoy our company, and need us, but do they?

  39. Avatar Cat Chandler Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    When you see a trainer laying on a whale you gotta wonder where her mind was at. This may be a docile creature but I nevfer trust an animal that could turn on me in a minute. Let the whale try and make it back in the ocean. If he can’t then may he rest in peace and freedom.

  40. Avatar Lucia Peniston Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    The question is… what can we do to prevent this? To stop this insanity? These animals deserve respect and to be left alone in the wild.
    I once saw on television of a Japanese crew surround a family of killer whales in order to capture the young for such captivity (for profit) Two of the whales died from stress and some of the surviving youngsters were kidnapped and hauled into trucks to be held in captivity for such “entertainment” as Sea World.
    I never ever go to any theme park that hold animals in cruel confinement such as zoos or Sea World… these animals are meant to be wild. (Do you recall the Asian elephants and their early demise d/t their captivity – their home was the equivalent of these majestic nomadic whales – fish bowls… and the Siberian tiger that killed that hoodlum kid… just not fair… to the animals.)
    The killer whale was instinctively doing what it is meant to do… it is not to be blamed.
    Recall that saying from Ghandi about how great a nation is is determined by how it treats its animals?
    Let’s find a way to stop this terrible form of cruelty!

  41. Avatar Rachel Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Yes, the accident was tragic, and I do not think the optimum environment for sea animals is at an aquarium doing tricks. But–having worked at a large zoo for several years, plus being involved in wildlife rescues, I can tell you that zoos have such an important role in animal conservation these days, that I know the average public does not see or understand. Being “wild and free” is no longer the paradise it used to be with poaching, pollution, habitat destruction, disease, and general human enroachment on territory. Rather than dissing zoos, wildlife parks, etc. for keeping wild animals in captivity, look around you, people!!! How many of your friends, family, or neighbors obtain exotic or non-domesticated pets (usually for their own egos’ sake) and keep them for their own “entertainment” and are doing the same thing you are condemning, plus not at all doing the needed research and preparation for keeping the animal at its best?! How many of them really understand animal behavior and instincts? Snakes,ferrets,amphibians, chinchillas, monkeys, birds, wolves, sugar gliders, iguanas, racoons, squirrels, —just to name a few– die or suffer every single day due to their “owners” ignorance and/or stupidity in providing for them physically, AND psychologically because they don’t know how that animal is wired to think and survive!! At least Zoos and parks are a step up in their knowledge and facilities than your local everyday “Joe” who thinks only of his own ego. You wouldn’t believe the sad horrible stories I (or the Humane Society)could tell you with that compared with the few isolated incidences occurring at public facilities!!!

  42. Avatar sheila woods Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I am of the mind that zoo’s of any kind should not be in existence any longer.With television and other media everyone has a chance to see just about any animal in existence,whereas when zoos come into being it was the only way to see some of these creatures.I had thought it would be ok to keep wild animals captive for breeding programs,but now I have my doubts after the fiasco in Langley,and the mortality rate and neglect being brought to light there. I say let them remain free,and if you have any doubt imagine never being able to leave your bedroom for the rest of your life and think how crazy you would become!!

  43. Avatar S Morris Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Ever since a young girl I have always felt sad for the animals in captivity. Always had a feel for all living creatures I guess. Animals have endured captivity far too long and its time we respect our fellow earthly neighbours of the WILD and let them be what they were meant to be,, FREE ! They are not born for entertainment circus style purposes. A bit of humane compassion for our ‘beasts of burdon’ as well wouldn’t be too much to ask either.

  44. Avatar S Morris Says:
    March 8th, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    ..to add, very glad to read the pooch suffering that horrendous eye injury is doing well.. BRAVO Dr. Jones! .. long night .. Bless you Bunches! HUGS to the pooch! 🙂

  45. Avatar Dana Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I agree with Rachel. While zoos are not an optimum environment in which ‘wild’ animals can live, they do serve a reasonable purpose. And like she said, living in the wild, especially nowadays, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not every animal behaviorist/researcher can be a Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey living with the animals they study, as if being a part of the troop, family, flock, pride or pod..
    As for Orca and dolphins, I’m not so sure captive living is such a good good alternative either, only because the size of these sea “zoos” just cannot be big enough to provide what these great creatures need…room to roam.
    And that’s the rub…between the devil and the deep blue see…pun intended.

  46. Avatar Grandma Judi Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Hmmmm? Did the pony tail look like a fish? Wonder what kind of shampoo she used? I am NOT making light of what happened! I am THINKING!
    Why didn’t he grab her arm or leg? Am I alone here?

  47. Avatar Sandie Says:
    March 13th, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I visited Sea World years ago – when my children were little. The creatures my heart went out to the most were the Baluga whales – which I believe only live a very short time in captivity – so sad – such beautiful creatures – so cruel to take them from the wild.

  48. Avatar Cat_Whispurrer Says:
    July 29th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    What a horrible tragedy. I agree that we, as humans, can be very nonchalant about the emotions of our fellow creatures, when pitted against the need to fulfill our own selfish desires. I still have hope that we will realize, as a species, that all beings are connected to their families, packs, pods, etc.., and feel fear, grief, loneliness, frustration, jealousy, and rage. Those emotions are not particular to humans. My heart goes out to the family of Dawn Brancheau. My heart goes out to Tilikum, for the stark and artificial life he has been forced to live.

    P.S. to #46 Grandma Judi: He actually did end up grabbing her by the arm after he pulled her down by her ponytail.

  49. Avatar Eilleen Smith Says:
    July 30th, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I feel nothing but shame – shame for these poor creatures made to entertain us; shame on the trainers and everyone else who make money from these events!! For as long as people visit these places (Why I don’t know – they must be very stupid to think these animals actually enjoy performing)these animals will continue to suffer. so the answer is – DO NOT VISIT THESE PLACES; DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN BELIEVE IT’S GOOD FUN FOR EVERYBODY AND THE ANIMALS LIKE IT TOO!!!

  50. Avatar Sallie Vendura Says:
    August 3rd, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I agre with the doctor, all wild animals should be in the wild. What a life they have in an enclosure. I would rather see the animals on TV or with binoculars than at a zoo (which I go to everyplace I visit).

  51. Avatar Faye Kemmis Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    The natural instinct of any animal can and does appear to come to the fore when that animal is CONFINED. Just as we humans can only stand being overcrowded for a certain length of time before becoming, usually, agressive in some way, either verbally of physically. Someone wrote here that ‘do we humans need to be ‘entertained’..by holding animals/mammals captive”. NO we do not. At least not intelligent humans..

  52. Avatar Faye Kemmis Says:
    September 8th, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I grew up, on and around the area of Cormorant Island/Alert Bay BC and the killer whales rule. It is their nature.

  53. Avatar Ling Yai (Thai for "Big Monkey Says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    My all-time life experience – more than the 20-foot tiger shark bouncing against the tube of my inflatable kayak; more than surprise announcement of my EMMY award on Statewide TV; more than any sport moment or eco-award, was kayaking in huge waves off Maui only to have a mother humpback steam over and swim eyeball-to-eyeball from a meter away – only to look down and see her calf between that huge eye and my kayak. I looked straight through her huge eye right into her brain, she sprayed me with horrid smelling blowhole exhaust, and showed off her baby like a Mama with stroller in a shopping center. We held an intelligent conversation in an eventthat lasted half an hour.

    Second was kayaking before a huge kilometer-square school of spinner dolphin. First, the scouts shot by, giving me winks of approval – then instantly the sea was frothing with Spinners showing off their aerobatics. Best of all were the babies jumping across my kayak at eye level, looking me direct in the eye as they did 360 spins directly before me – pivoting on their eye as if it were anchored on a rod. “Squeek, Squeek” and laughing while showing off their new-found talent.

    I still don’t know who had more fun – Mama Whale, her calf, Baby Spinners, or me just enjoying the show.

    Cetaceans should never be hunted, abused, or confined. Highly intelligent, hey are the ultimate free spirits. Enjoy the serendipity moment, appreciate and move on.

    Such is the marvel of Nature.

  54. Avatar Laksmi Says:
    November 9th, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Hi, several years ago I had cats as our family pets. Since we moved to another region, I decided not to keep any, considering the responsibilities. Besides, I think they have rights to live free. so do the other animals.
    When I want to watch their behavior, I can watch movies instead.
    I think we can do the same if there is an educational reason.

  55. Avatar Bella Says:
    January 13th, 2021 at 8:53 am

    This is so true because they are keeping all the poor animals in small cages until they do shows. Killer Whales should be in the big ocean, not some small little kiddy pool. This is so sad and for what? To entertain us, humans? I’d rather be bored to death than see all these poor animals locked in cages and being beat if they do their shoes wrong. The sad world we are living in.?


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM