Thu, 25 February 2010

Ocean activists are calling for the end of animal theme parks after a Sea World trainer was killed in Orlando, Florida, yesterday by a five ton orca whale.

Animal rights groups say the tragedy underlines why "killer whales" and dolphins do not belong in theme parks.

Dan Brown, general manager of SeaWorld Adventure Park, told the press that veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was killed by an animal called Tilikum - a five ton male orca - when he bit her during a show at Sea World. The death has highlighted the campaign of several animal rights groups to stop canned parks altogether.

SeaWorld in Orlando has closed the park and SeaWorld in San Diego has suspended a similar show for an unstipulated amount of time. 

According to a story on the Christian Science Monitor, “These behemoths are denied all of their natural, instinctual inclinations, and we humans tend to think, ‘Well, this is just a bad animal.’ But it is a wild animal, used to running free in an entire ocean, but now confined to a very small space,” says Joyce Tischler, founder of and general counsel for Animal Legal Defence Fund.

Tischler apparently compared an orca’s life in captivity in a tank to "keeping a human being in a bathtub for his entire life".

Romanticized notions of sea life perpetuated by such TV series as “Flipper” were outdated and completely out of touch. "Even dolphins are known to aggressively run their teeth down the backs of humans in hundreds of incidents that are not reported outside the conservation community press" CSM reported her as saying.

SeaWorld closed its Orlando park immediately after the tragedy, and suspended its orca show in San Diego. “We've initiated an investigation to determine, to the extent possible, what occurred,” Brown said in a brief statement to reporters.

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