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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 263 - New Aquatica Slide!

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Don't these animal play with "toys", ie. a buoy attatched to a rope? The whale probably thought her ponytail was the end of a toy.

 

Also, what happened to the accounts of her being grabbed by the waist and thrashed?

That is exactly what I thought after I read it...

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AMEN!!! It's so dumb to me that a company (Premier) which made headlines and won awards and praise from all of us for taking OTSR's OFF of rides that didn't need it is now needlessly putting OTSR

Is this like spanking the monkeys?

The Ice Breaker animated POV looks pretty good, I think it will have a good amount of airtime and may be a surprise hit! With that being said can someone PLEASE explain to me why Premier insists on pu

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^ Maybe he pulled her in the water by her ponytail and then thrashed her around by the waist. I've seen National Geographic videos of Orca's in the wild "playing" with sea lions before they eat them ... if that's what happened, it was pretty brutal.

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^"Your honor, we move for a mistrial and a new jury. It is improosible for my client, an alleged 'killer' whale, to receive a fair hearing before a jury of seals. Their bias against my client's species is obvious!"

 

Why am I picturing all this on the set of Night Court?

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You'd have to be pretty lonely to make it with a whale.

 

I vote for the "Free Willy" campaign.

Orcas travel in pods for their entire lives. Release them all together, and they'd stick together...and would adapt to the wild pretty quickly. I've just never felt that wild animals should be subjected to perform for human enjoyment.

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I think the Mexican space agency can help out.

 

These things eat great white sharks. I recently found that out. Anything that eats great white sharks, well, I know I am now glad that I did not get picked years ago when Sea World was in Ohio to go and meet the real predator residing at the top of the food chain.

 

It is good to be at the top of the food chain, which we ARE not in the ocean,... well unless we have harpoon guns...on a boat..... or sticks of dynamite to fish with....

 

Wow, a harpoon, that would be cool to have.

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I think this is yet another message that you shouldn't keep 20ft 6-ton Orcas in concrete bathtubs. Extremely sad for someone to die doing something that they love, but these animals are natural hunters not circus performers.

 

Sadly releasing animals which have been in captivity for this long ends in death for them. They have no knowledge of how to hunt in the wild and are susceptible to disease having been protected for so long in the care of humans. Keiko died of pneumonia worsened by malnutrition, and 2 other orcas released refused to interact with their own kind in the area and kept returning to boats for feeding.

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http://orlando.bizjournals.com/orlando/stories/2010/02/22/daily34.html

 

The fatal killer whale attack at SeaWorld Orlando on Wednesday now leaves the marine life theme park to deal with a big public relations nightmare. Global news coverage started shortly after the attack when trainer Dawn Brancheau drowned while being dragged underwater by a 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum during a show called Dine with Shamu.

 

By Thursday morning, the attack continued to generate news coverage worldwide, as the debate began to center on what to do with the whale, which has been linked to two previous deaths since 1991. Besides broadcast and print coverage, the SeaWorld accident now is being discussed in all forms of social media, as both positive and negative comments circulate across all platforms. That can be a big problem in trying to get actual information out since anyone can say anything they want, said Steve Baker, president of Orlando-based Baker Leisure Group, a theme park consulting and management company.

 

However, the biggest PR issue right now is the fact that “Shamu” - the name generically used for the killer whales at the theme park - is the SeaWorld icon, said Baker. “Shamu is SeaWorld - it's the park's identity worldwide,” he said. “Having one of the whales involved in this accident is a huge blow because the park is so closely connected to the Shamu name.”

 

Dennis Speigel, president of Cincinnati-based International Theme Park Services Inc., a consulting firm, agreed, but said he doesn't believe it will create a negative impact on SeaWorld's business. “Their big task is to be honest with the public and the media as they conduct their forensic study on why the accident happened, because that will determine how SeaWorld is perceived in the future,” said Speigel.

 

The reality, Baker said, is that while safety is every theme park's No. 1 concern, accidents do happen. In SeaWorld's case, having a new owner may complicate the PR issues further. Blackstone Group bought Anheuser-Busch InBev's Busch Entertainment Corp., which operates SeaWorld, for $2.7 billion in 2009. Busch Entertainment changed its name to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in December 2009. “Some may question whether the new owner has the expertise to run the theme park,” Baker said. “It will be important for SeaWorld, in going forward, to remind people that the trainers, managers and other people involved are the same now as they were before the buyout.” Baker said SeaWorld's other big task is to be aggressive in telling the public what is being done to ensure an accident like this one won't happen again. That means re-evaluating every part of the shows held in Shamu Stadium, how the whales are handled and how much interaction is allowed.

 

Added Speigel, “[seaWorld Parks & Entertainment President] Jim Atchison and his team are some of the best, and they will handle this incident in the right way. Don't be surprised if there are even more visitors to SeaWorld once the Shamu shows re-open.”

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Random side note: Shouldn't Steve Baker be at Hard Rock Park instead of at his Orlando offices getting quoted in the newspaper?

 

Back to the topic...

 

It'll blow over. This is hardly a "PR nightmare". It's just an unfortunate accident that will be forgotten in a week.

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Random side note: Shouldn't Steve Baker be at Hard Rock Park instead of at his Orlando offices getting quoted in the newspaper?

 

Back to the topic...

LOL! I was thinking the same thing!

 

“Some may question whether the new owner has the expertise to run the theme park,” Baker said.

 

Really? Are you f**king kidding me? He said this??? He is the LAST PERSON who should be questioning if Blackstone and run a theme park. He destroyed Cypress Gardens and Freestyle Music Park. IMO he has no business being quoted on ANYTHING being said about the theme park industry unless it's an article on "how to sink your theme park deeper and deeper into the toilet."

 

--Robb

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“Some may question whether the new owner has the expertise to run the theme park,” Baker said. “It will be important for SeaWorld, in going forward, to remind people that the trainers, managers and other people involved are the same now as they were before the buyout.” Baker said SeaWorld's other big task is to be aggressive in telling the public what is being done to ensure an accident like this one won't happen again.

 

A couple things came to mind when I read this..

 

One. Most people I know have NO IDEA the park is under new management. I even spoke with a friend at length the day Blackstone purchased the park... Know what he said when he found out the accident happened? "Man, this will be a huge blow to Budwiser.. Hope this doesn't affect beer production."

 

Two. Be agreesive in telling the public? Yes, be agressive with those that show concern for whats going on, but no need to constantly get in the news and make announcements... News like this doesn't stick in the long run, and the less is said about it the faster it disappears. I think it will only make things worse for them PR wise to keep it in the news, constantly reminding people that this happened (not to mention, constantly reminding the family of the victim). Yes, measures need to be taken but only with the source of the problem, not the way the attraction has been running or interaction with the animals overall. The more announcements you make, the more you keep it in the news there's a problem, the more you have to tone it down.

 

Just my two cents. I am aware I am totally coming off sounding like a know it all, so... It is what it is

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Before everyone starts advocating freeing the orcas, you might want to read up on Keiko, the whale from Free Willy. Even after he was freed he still tried to interact with humans, he lost a bunch of weight due to him not eating, and his trainers wound up having to relocate him and feed him until he died.

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Um, hi, stupid article...

 

Remember when Sea World crashed a boat into the audience? Remember when various Shamu's have attacked trainers in front of whole shows before?

 

In regards to the park this really won't affect them at all. They'll put out a few more Press Releases, the family will put out a press release about not changing the way they deal with whales cause that's what dead trainer would have wanted, end of story.

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I dont understand your arguement that it would be more human to kill the whale. You cant blame a killer whale for doing what comes natural to it. As for not displaying animals and that its "sick", if we applied that logic to all animals then we shouldnt raise cows for beef, we shouldnt fish for food, keep dogs and cats for pets. Robb would not be able to make his hot wings.

While Sea World exhibits fish for profit, they also use the profits and the interaction as research to save and help all sorts of marine life. Many of us would never have the understanding or the care for these animals if we hadnt seen them at Sea World. With the "release all of them" logic we wouldnt know about these wonderful animals until greenpeace rams the Japanese boat that killing them with no disregard to future populations. There is a lot of good that comes from their research as well as what BGA does for African animals. There is no difference in my mind between the value of a whale or a horse or a dog or any animal for that manner. There is always going to be danger involved with working with animals, and the trainers at the parks know this above all else. I for one think the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

 

I am not blaming the whale for doing what it does. In fact, I commend the whale. That is what whales do, and is a reason why they should not be held captive. And I find that it is more humane it euthanize the animal based on the fact that clearly this is not the kind of environment for an animal like this. Clearly (and I am not assuming this), the whale is not happy. Why? The whale is not healthy. He is not in an environment meant for him the thrive. Whales swim miles upon miles a day in the open ocean. Here, he is stuck in a tank where he just swims in circles day in and day out. It just isn't right to treat anyone like that.

 

And if you didn't notice from my title, I am a vegetarian. I definitely don't think cows should be raised and stockpiled for beef and people should fish. Honestly, I wish dogs and cats weren't domesticated so they could live free. However, that is where we are, and they depend on us. And quite frankly, I don't give a &$%# if Robb can make is wing or not (no offense Robb, just trying to make a point).

 

I have been running a dog rescue for about a year now, and have been working with rescue organizations for dogs and cats for another 5 on top of that. Sadly, some dogs that are taken from shelters are badly damaged, and cannot live in this society. That is a major negative for them, as they are supposed to be domesticated, but just aren't. I have had to make the decision to put down animals over the past year. Is that wrong of me? Dogs have had to be put down due to aggression towards people, and for being too sick to sustain living. it is hard, but sometimes it just has to be done because of the society that they now live in. This situation is a little different with the whale, especially considering the whale is not like a dog since I can't fathom how anyone would think a killer whale could interact on a daily basis with humans, and they certainly aren't considered "domesticated". But really, my feeling on euthanizing the animal is because I just don't think it is right to hold an animal like this. And the only reason it is being held is for selfish human reasons - entertainment and research.

 

How is euthanizing the whale humane? Ending a seemingly healthy whale's life does not seem to be a humane action. The whale should just be moved to a facility or pool where he doesn't feel 'threatened' or 'agitated' by trainers and/or park guests.

 

The whale does not seem healthy to me. Do you see how his fin is curved? That is a classic sign that a whale is malnourished. He is not in a natural environment, and is not getting what he needs in terms of exercise, mental stimulation, and is unable to use his natural hunting instnicts. I would have to say that the whale is both physically and mentally drained at this point.

 

I don't really think that there is a place on this world that would keep the whale from being threatened, or agitated. To really put a whale in a place where he is comfortable, and healthy would cost an ungodly amount of money, and a ton of space and other resources. That just isn't feasible, unless the whale is in a natural setting. Unfortunately, he really can't be at this point in his life.

 

Before everyone starts advocating freeing the orcas, you might want to read up on Keiko, the whale from Free Willy. Even after he was freed he still tried to interact with humans, he lost a bunch of weight due to him not eating, and his trainers wound up having to relocate him and feed him until he died.

 

Great point. These whales at SeaWorld, or at any other parks or aquarium in the world don't develop the instincts that help them thrive in the wild. Sure, they are "wild" animals. But when they are in a tank for their entire life, and are fed fish by humans every day, their "wild" tendencies do not develop, and it is near impossible for them to live freely. They can't find food, they don't have any social skills with their own, and the potential for them to get into a bad situation with a human (i.e. going up to a whaling boat or something) is always there.

 

This is why I just think it is a fair ending for humane euthanasia.

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Apparently, the world just barely missed out on another brief, and morbid YouTube sensation.

 

A local news station in Florida has obtained video shot by a tourist from New Hampshire at SeaWorld in Orlando on Wednesday moments before an orca dragged a trainer under water by her hair, leading to her death.

 

The seven minutes of amateur video, shot by Todd Connell during a visit to the park with his wife and son for the boy’s 10th birthday, shows the trainer who died, Dawn Brancheau, feeding and playing with the orca, named Tilikum. Mr. Connell explained to WESH, an Orlando television news broadcaster, that he had just turned off his camera after filming Ms. Brancheau in the water right in front of the orca when the 12,300-pound orca yanked the trainer under the water by her ponytail.

orca.jpg.2888e073b8c0e04b7b664ffc64dc4881.jpg

A still frame of the trainer and whale moments before the incident.

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There seems to be a press conference going on RIGHT NOW. CNN has a link to it from their main page. Unfortunately, it isn't loading for me.

 

EDIT: The press conference just ended. I am currently looking for a transcript.

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^It seems we posted these just seconds after each other.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/26/florida.seaworld.death/index.html?hpt=T1

 

After the death of a whale trainer at Florida's SeaWorld Orlando, Jim Atchison, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said SeaWorld's shows with killer whales will resume Saturday. At a news conference Friday, he also said that a charitable foundation is being formed in the name of Dawn Brancheau, the trainer who was pulled underwater and killed Wednesday when a whale named Tilikum grabbed her ponytail.

 

Also Friday, spokesmen for the Labor and Agriculture departments said the federal agencies were looking into Brancheau's death. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are investigating.

 

Atchison on Wednesday called Tilikum "a wonderful animal" who "will remain an active and contributing member of the team despite what happened." He said that though SeaWorld's shows with killer whales will resume, trainers won't get into the water with the animals. He also promised improvements and changes at SeaWorld, saying that in light of Brancheau's death, SeaWorld is "reviewing everything we do related to" Tilikum and the other whales at the facility. "This incident is a terrible, terrible incident for us," he said. "We are looking at every piece of information we have." Atchison said video images of the trainer's killing have been given to appropriate authorities.

 

Brancheau died from multiple injuries and drowning after interacting with the 12,000-pound whale in front of shocked onlookers at Shamu Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff's office said Thursday. She was "pulled underwater for an extended period of time," Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld's curator of zoological operations, told CNN's "American Morning."

 

Labor Department spokesman Mike Wald said the agency is looking into whether OSHA workplace standards were violated in the incident. It will complete a report within six months, he said. If workplace infractions are found, OSHA will propose financial penalties, Wald said. If that happens, the company could accept the penalties and make any necessary workplace changes, or appeal proposed penalties before an OSHA review commission.

 

David Sacks, an Agriculture Department spokesman, said inspectors are looking into the incident from the animal welfare perspective. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wants to know if there were any violations of the Animal Welfare Act, a federal set of minimum-care standards for entities that get USDA licenses, including facilities that exhibit warm-blooded mammals to the public. Sacks said the incident will trigger a "focused" investigation, in which inspectors will go to SeaWorld to gather facts. If they think any welfare act violations contributed to the incident, a formal investigation will begin. Such violations could trigger fines and even license suspensions and revocations. "If we feel animals are suffering, we can confiscate the animal," Sacks said. He said SeaWorld Orlando has never been the object of a penalty enforcement.

 

Tompkins, head of animal training for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, mourned Brancheau's death in a video posted on Sea World's blog and raised the issue of safety standards. "We need to evaluate our safety procedures and how we interact with these animals," he said, and he stressed that it's "extremely important that we continue to take care of these animals the best way possible."

 

The same whale was linked previously to two other deaths. Tilikum and two other whales were involved in the drowning of a trainer at a Victoria, British Columbia, marine park in 1991. The trainer fell into the whale tank at Sealand of the Pacific and was dragged underwater as park visitors watched. In 1999, Tilikum was blamed for the death of a 27-year-old man whose body was found floating in a tank at SeaWorld, the apparent victim of a whale's "horseplay," authorities said then. The Orange County Sheriff's Office said the man apparently hid in the park until after it closed, then climbed into the tank.

 

Nancy Black, a marine biologist who has studied whales for 20 years, said Tilikum could have been trying to play with Brancheau or get her attention or companionship. Such whales play with seals and sea lions in the wild, tossing them in the air, she said, but end up letting them go. But she said the whale could also have been frustrated for some reason.

 

The incident raises larger questions about captivity of wild animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said dolphins and other sea animals in aquariums "routinely die prematurely of stress and other captivity-related causes" and human casualties also occur. A PETA spokesman called the death "a tragedy that didn't have to happen." Jaime Zalac said the organization had called on SeaWorld "to stop confining oceangoing mammals to an area that to them is like the size of a bathtub, and we have also been asking the park to stop forcing the animals to perform silly tricks over and over again. It's not surprising when these huge, smart animals lash out."

 

The incident occurred about 2 p.m. Wednesday. Tompkins said the whale had just finished a session with Brancheau, who was leaning over and rubbing his head. They were in knee-deep water, he said. "She had a long ponytail that brushed in front of her and apparently got in front of his nose," Tompkins said. "He probably felt it." Tilikum grabbed the ponytail and pulled Brancheau into the water, he said. Rescuers were not immediately able to reach her because the whale was too aggressive, the sheriff's office said. She was recovered by SeaWorld staff members after Tilikum was coaxed into a smaller pool and lifted out of the water by a large platform on the bottom of the smaller tank, authorities said. "While this incident remains the subject of an ongoing death investigation, there are no signs of foul play," the sheriff's statement said. "All evidence and witness statements indicate that the death was a tragic accident."

 

Brancheau wanted to be an animal trainer from the time she visited SeaWorld as a 9-year-old, her sister Diane Gross said. "It was her dream job," Gross said. "She loved the animals like they were her own children ... She loved what she did."

 

Because of Tilikum's history, as well as his size, trainers did not get into deep water with him, Tompkins said. Specific procedures were in place for working with him, he said, although "obviously, we need to evaluate those protocols." "He's just a really, really large animal," Tompkins said, noting that female killer whales weigh 6,000 pounds -- half of Tilikum's weight. "Just because of his size alone, it would be dangerous to get in the water with him."

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I havent seen it yet, but the story states Shamu shows will resume on Sat. and Tili will be apart of them.

 

GOOD FOR THEM! I'll take the advice and word of people who seem to be the REAL experts in this field!

 

It just amazes me that based on some of the posts I've read in the past two days that I had no idea that so many high schools and online Wiki pages offered:

 

- MBA programs

- Animal Psychology & Care programs

- Law degrees

 

As it seems like many of our members claim to be "experts" in these fields. It's one thing to have an opinion, sure, but it's another to come off like you know more than the people who do this as their career.

 

--Robb "Sometimes I think sharks and killer whales really, really need to eat more people..." Alvey

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I havent seen it yet, but the story states Shamu shows will resume on Sat. and Tili will be apart of them.

 

GOOD FOR THEM! I'll take the advice and word of people who seem to be the REAL experts in this field!

 

It just amazes me that based on some of the posts I've read in the past two days that I had no idea that so many high schools and online Wiki pages offered:

 

- MBA programs

- Animal Psychology & Care programs

- Law degrees

 

As it seems like many of our members claim to be "experts" in these fields. It's one thing to have an opinion, sure, but it's another to come off like you know more than the people who do this as their career.

 

--Robb "Sometimes I think sharks and killer whales really, really need to eat more people..." Alvey

 

Robb - I agree with you. Though, personally, I don't want me expressing my opinions to come off as me trying to sound like a total expert. I can really only go off of what I know and have researched, as well as my personal beliefs. Sure, the "real experts" are at the parks - if you want to call them that. However, I do not agree with the way these parks are managed. The same goes for any circus, or performance that involves animals. This is why I do not, and will never frequent a SeaWorld, Animal Kingdom, the safari at Great Adventure etc. And if I do happen to go to a park with a dolphin show or the like, I do not attend. That is just me.

 

Jay "Just because I went to school for business doesn't mean I don't have knowledge of other things." Willis

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