In May, SeaWorld was declared responsible for the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was pulled under the water and drowned by orca Tilikum during a show in 2010. Now, a video showing a similar incident that happened to trainer Ken Peters has been released to the public.
The ‘near death at SeaWorld’ video was presented at the trial that resulted in Judge Ken Welsch’s ruling against the theme park in Brancheau’s death, SeaWorld v US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis that resulted. According to Huffington Post, the incident occurred in November 2006 and involved orca Kasatka and experienced trainer Ken Peters. David Kirby who wrote the just-released book “Death at SeaWorld,” shares an excerpt from the book detailing what happened.
“In less than two weeks, the terror was repeated in the pools of San Diego. For the third time, Kasatka turned on Ken Peters. But this time there were far more serious implications.” Kastaka’s calf, Kalia, could be heard calling out distress cries for her mother from another pool, Peters was told later by fellow trainers who also report there had been “some type of commotion” between the two orcas prior to the show.
Kirby writes, “Kasatka instantly pulled her rostrum away from Peters’ feet. And then she grabbed his ankles, pulling him underwater for several seconds. When he resurfaced, she grabbed him again, this time “rag-dolling” her trainer violently by shaking him back and forth with her powerful neck muscles. Kasatka took him under again, for a minute or more. Then, slowly and deliberately, as if performing a bizarre underwater pas de deux, the whale began to spiral upward with Peters’ foot in her mouth. She exhaled a cloud of white bubbles from her blowhole.” Despite trainers’ efforts to call Kasatka back to the edge of the pool, she remained in the middle and repeatedly brought Peters down into the water by his foot.” When Peters manages to get onto the edge of the pool, Kasatka makes an attempt to breach the net, but trainers manage to pull him out of the way.
The State of California and OSHA investigated the incident and released a verdict in 2007, saying “If someone hasn’t been killed already, it is only a matter of time before it does happen.” Kirby reports that only three years later, a SeaWorld orca sent to a park in the Canary Islands killed a trainer, and two months after that Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau.
The repeated incidents involving SeaWorld’s captive orcas should indicate that these animals don’t belong in tanks and swimming pools, performing with humans. It has had deadly results not only for the trainers, but for the orcas as well.
Photo credit: Irina Silvestrova / Shutterstock.com