Free Tilly! Death of Dawn Brancheau Sparks Debate on Animal Cruelty

It’s an eerie thing watching the amateur video of Dawn Brancheau’s last few minutes alive (available here). And see the New York Times, “Video Shows SeaWorld Trainer With Orca Moments Before Her Death“:

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.

SeaWorld has rejected calls from animal rights activists to free the orca. According to the Los Angeles Times, Chuck Tompkins, the corporate curator in charge of animal behavior for Sea World, said the orca might not be able to survive in the wild after decades in captivity, adding, “I think it’s unfair to do that to an animal.”

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) press release is here: “Help Animals Imprisoned by SeaWorld.”

And from MediaWorks NZ , “Whale Captivity: SeaWorld Death Sparks Cruelty Debate.”

And from the comments at the New York Times:

These animals should not be kept in captivity. I too would kill someone after years of essentially solitary confinement, interspersed with periods of being required to do tricks by people I didn’t understand and couldn’t communicate with. It’s absolute animal cruelty and it teaches people, including children, that animals have no existence independent of what people want to do with or to them.

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I feel bad for her family but not for her. That’s what these Sea World people get. I hope all those trainers get their days with those animals in the end. You can’t take the largest mammal in the world and put them in a tank that’s even too small for dolphins. I think the owners of Sea World should be thrown into those tanks too and eaten alive. I’d pay to watch that! Keep on going Orkas!

Even the Columbus Zoo’s Jack Hanna, at the CBS video above, seemed frustrated in his efforts to explain the value of having killer whales in captivity.

But see John Hawkins, “Respect the Dead & Protect the Living: Kill Tilikum The Killer Whale.”

RELATED: A local news investigation, “Orlando SeaWorld Trainer Killed.”

Cross-posted from American Power.

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