Wildlife lovers have been citing last week’s fatal orca attack at SeaWorld in Orlando as a prime example of the fact that wild animals deserve to be free, and not forced to be performing monkeys. However, as Atlanta injury lawyers who represent victims of dog bites, we have been more concerned about the fact that the killer whale in the attack here had been cited in at least two previous deaths
If you’ve missed the story, here’s the background.Tilikum, a killer whale at Orlando’s SeaWorld, dragged its trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water, killing her. The 40- year-old trainer was rubbing the whale down after the show when it apparently grabbed her in its mouth, and thrashed her from side to side. Brancheau was dead before anyone else could get into the water. It’s not clear if she drowned or died from the thrashing.
Tilikum had been involved in at least two previous deaths at water parks.The first death occurred at a facility in British Columbia, when a trainer fell into the tank and was attacked by three whales, including Tilikum.The other tragedy involved a man who was found dead and draped around the whale’s back in the tank.He had either sneaked into the tank or fallen in.
While the attack has received a great deal of attention around the world, there are questions we must ask about the safely standards seen here. Tilikum’s previous attacks and his massive size was enough reason for SeaWorld to designate a limited number of trainers who could work with him. Brancheau was one of the few trainers at the facility who was allowed to handle him. Wouldn’t it have been better if he had been simply retired from his performing life? We expect answers to these questions over time.