❮Read❯ ➵ Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity ➹ Author David Kirby – Horse-zine.co.uk

Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity chapter 1 Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, meaning Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, genre Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, book cover Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, flies Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity 06535b5a8ff4a From The New York Times Bestselling Author Of Evidence Of Harm And Animal Factory A Groundbreaking Scientific Thriller That Exposes The Dark Side Of SeaWorld, America S Most Beloved Marine Mammal Park Death At SeaWorld Centers On The Battle With The Multimillion Dollar Marine Park Industry Over The Controversial And Even Lethal Ramifications Of Keeping Killer Whales In Captivity Following The Story Of Marine Biologist And Animal Advocate At The Humane Society Of The US, Naomi Rose, Kirby Tells The Gripping Story Of The Two Decade Fight Against PR Savvy SeaWorld, Which Came To A Head With The Tragic Death Of Trainer Dawn Brancheau In Kirby Puts That Horrific Animal On Human Attack In Context Brancheau S Death Was The Most Publicized Among Several Brutal Attacks That Have Occurred At Sea World And Other Marine Mammal Theme Parks Death At SeaWorld Introduces Real People Taking Part In This Debate, From Former Trainers Turned Animal Rights Activists To The Men And Women That Champion SeaWorld And The Captivity Of Whales In Section Two The Orcas Act Out And As The Story Progresses And Orca Attacks On Trainers Become Increasingly Violent, The Warnings Of Naomi Rose And Other Scientists Fall On Deaf Ears, Only To Be Realized With The Death Of Dawn Brancheau Finally He Covers The Media Backlash, The Eyewitnesses Who Come Forward To Challenge SeaWorld S Glossy Image, And The Groundbreaking OSHA Case That Challenges The Very Idea Of Keeping Killer Whales In Captivity And May Spell The End Of Having Trainers In The Water With The Ocean S Top Predators


10 thoughts on “Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity

  1. says:

    This is long, so first off A friend of mine wanted me to narrow this down to three words, so here you go Read the book Before a riot starts on the thread of this review, I would like to say, SeaWorld, its supporters, and others in the animal theme park community will tell you not to read this book, that it is one sided and that the author is not an expert on the subject of marine animals They are correct The book is mostly one sided, however as noted in the Author s Note at the beginning of the book, David Kirby asked numerous display industry representatives for their input in the book including Sea World and they all declined Despite this, I spotted many times in the book where Kirby tried to give Sea World credit for one thing or another including an educational manatee exhibit, a beautifully designed aquarium, animal rescues, and grants for habitat restoration, but the issue at hand is killer whales in captivity On the note of Kirby not being an expert in marine animals, he never claimed to be David Kirby was an investigative reporter who contributed to the New York Times among other publications As an investigative reporter, he reached out to those who are experts in the field of marine animals and to those who offered a small look inside Sea World from former trainers at Sea World Those against this book s publication will also tell you that the book is disrespectful to Dawn Brancheau s memory Where Dawn is concerned, she is not often mentioned in the book There is one chapter that focuses mostly on her, but other than that she is mentioned only occasionally If anything, this book does for her memory than Sea World has by claiming that there are risks to keeping these killer whales captive and that changes need to be made, while Sea World blames Dawn for what happened That being said I have always been a lover of animals and although I have loved the experience of seeing animals up close in zoos and places like SeaWorld, I have always questioned the ethics of it Also, I am a history major in college People studying history generally love research, verifiable evidence, and sources While reading the book I was constantly looking up videos, articles, and interviews mentioned in the book to get an even bigger view of the picture David Kirby was presenting I also poured through Sea World s website and Facebook page.Death at Sea World is a well written narrative of not only the unfortunate incident of February 24, 2010, but of the history of orca research and orcas in captivity as well as the reactions to the events of that day on both sides of the debate It is written so well, I often became so absorbed that I didn t want to work or sleep, just so that I could keep reading It isn t bogged down like many non fiction books become with statistics and dates to remember this coming from a history major , but flows easily by following the lives those who have been vital to the issue of orca in captivity and their struggles to get legislation passed to protect the animals and the resistance they have met in that battle After reading this book, I am compelled to become an advocate not only against zoos and animal theme parks, but also an advocate of getting people to read this book It has also appalled me at how far companies will go to make money, and how far legislation will go to ensure the cash flow keeps coming For a company to argue that people with PhDs and decades of years in the field are not experts when speaking out against Sea World is quite frankly ridiculous The only way I can wrap my head around their train of thought when making this claim is that these PhD scientists and advocates are not experts in jailing large, intelligent, wild animals in small, bland, non stimulating environments, and I suppose they are correct, which is the whole point These animals were not meant to be pulled from their mothers so young and in the case of males, probably ever , put into such confined spaces, forced into artificial pods with other unknown orca, fed dead fish infused with vitamins and medicines that they would not need in the wild, and impregnated over and over again at ages unheard of in their natural habitat Below are the updates I made after reading the first two sections of the books and how I felt upon finishing those respective sections UPDATE 2 6 24 2012 I just finished Part Two Dark Side of the book which ends at 66% through the book, and I am sad, and angry, and disillusioned Part Two focuses the lens clearly on the long battle activists have had with SeaWorld and ProCap activists over all sorts of issues including trainer safety, longevity of killer whales, ethics of holding these large and highly intelligent animals, and the release of captive killer whales back into the wild Part Two ends with the much publicized death of Dawn Brancheau, and I assume that Part Three After Dawn will cover the ramifications this unfortunate incident has had on the efforts of animal activists as well as what it has meant to Sea World and the animal entertainment industry I already feel like I ve learned tons from this book and am looking forward to the knowledge the last third of the book will share with me UPDATE 1 6 18 2012 I just finished Part One Blackfish of the book which was the first 29% and so far and am thoroughly enjoying it Part One had to do with the history of killer whale scientific research, how the display and entertainment business of killer whales began, and the first few decades of the business than any specific incident of aggressive killer whale incident in captivity, although the incidents are mentioned in this part The book reads like a novel in which all the characters are destined to converge in the coming pages, and it makes it a really easy non fiction book to read enjoyably and learn from at the same time I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads


  2. says:

    The first, and most important thing, to say about this book is that it s prodigiously well researched and compulsively readable Spurred by Dawn Brancheau s death and Alexis Mart nez s less publicized death and the subsequent Outside magazine article Killer In The Pool, Kirby launched a full scale journalistic investigation into the history of orcas in captivity, specifically those at SeaWorld Kirby does his homework he starts out with the history of orca human conflict, delves deep into the biology of wild orcas, and even discusses the orca killer whale terminology divide He gets in up to his elbows interviewing anyone who at any time had anything to do with SeaWorld who was willing to talk to him He studies the paradox that is the keeper whale dynamic the cognitive dissonance required to simultaneously love these animals and keep them in tiny pools where their very dorsal fins attest to the fact that they re not where or what they re meant to be He scrupulously follows the debate and chronicles the OSHA trial It makes for fascinating reading.The resulting book is an eye opening look at the history of killer whales and a distressing expos of SeaWorld The book does have faults at times, he lets his glasses get a little too rosy and gets carried away with storytelling, especially regarding the human scientists He also occasionally leans unnecessarily on Naomi Rose as a lens, putting things in terms of her experience that he could have just said straight out But that doesn t detract from the worth of the book The books detractors SeaWorld s defenders have painted this as a one sided book It isn t Kirby works very, very hard to tell both sides of the story Of course, that s difficult if one side refuses to talk to you and also appears to be hoodwinking and in some cases flat out lying to a number of people up to and including the United States federal government, but he does do his best It s just that there s not a whole lot of solid support to their side of the story, and the bits he is able to gather only reinforces the impression that the whole thing is a charade meant to perpetuate a very profitable industry Sidebar One of his best points comes when he s talking about how SeaWorld enthusiasts decry those who suggest people should whale watch instead of go to SeaWorld as elitist because not everyone can afford to go whale whatching Kirby actually does the math, and brings up the very good point that it s far expensive to go to SeaWorld Another point he counters is that people won t care about these animals if they don t see them in person He brings up the counter example of dinosaurs Humpback whales would also be apt This whole book reminded me as so many things do of a Firefly quote They weren t cows inside They were waiting to be, but they forgot Now they see sky, and they remember what they are The orcas at SeaWorld aren t orcas inside they ve forgotten Release and reintroduction may not always be possible or wise, but somehow we have got to get them closer to the sky, and the sea.


  3. says:

    Death at SeaWorld is by far one of the best books I have ever read I ve been very active in the anti captivity movement in the last six months I ve been highly anticipating Kirby s book for many obvious reasons but so to have a deeper in depth knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes at entertainment parks like SeaWorld My suspicions of these places were not only confirmed by Kirby but I was also shocked at some of the events that have gone on in the past that I had no knowledge of before reading this book I could not put the book down and simply did not want it to end I loved following the journeys of each individual featured in the book I was ecstatic to learn about wild Orca s through Naomi Rose s life I yearn to see what Naomi has in her lifetime and have complete respect for all her work I enjoyed reading about the SeaWorld trainers and their daily interactions At times I found myself wincing at the mere thought of having to accomplish the daily tasks that are expected of a SeaWorld trainer Lastly, I could not get enough of the OSHA investigation and the people who were deeply involved The book is thrilling and thorough with accounts of people who worked incredibly hard to improve the lives of trainers and Killer Whales at SeaWorld after the devastating loss of Dawn Brancheau.I found myself at times, laughing out loud, crying in utter sadness and also completely disgusted with the practices of the people involved in Orca captivity David has done a fantastic job of breaking down complicated events so that a person, who is perhaps not as involved as I, could understand thoroughly Not only is this book the first of it s kind, I am hopeful that the general public will start questioning places like SeaWorld and how they operate their business This book is going to challenge the way that people look at SeaWorld and other entertainment parks across the world Perhaps for some it may encourage them to become involved and demand a change in practice and procedures I loved every minute of reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good thriller but also enjoys retaining knowledge at the same time You will not regret reading this book My hat s off to Kirby, he s done, yet again, a beyond excellent job with this book.


  4. says:

    Death at SeaWorld is a hard book to rate There is no doubt this book is jam packed with information about whales, both their lives in the wild and how they fare in captivity spoiler alert they fare poorly It also provides details about various injuries and deaths at marine parks than you re likely to find anywhere else, and is probably the most comprehensive account of the battle between OSHA and SeaWorld that s been written to date It is, in fact, a perfect, depressing microcosm of the ways large corporations can buy off politicians in order to remain essentially unregulated, regardless of the stakes The writing is pretty corny but entertaining and accessible If you re interested in this topic, you shouldn t hesitate to read Death at SeaWorld.Still, this book could ve been better Kirby focuses on a few people of interest in telling this story some SeaWorld trainers and especially Naomi Rose, a marine biologist who works for the Humane Society These were all interesting people, and I can see why Kirby thought they would be a good way into all of the information he wanted to impart, but really this book doubles as a bio of Naomi Rose, and I don t know that anyone needed or wanted that We didn t need to know about every move she made in college and grad school, for instance, or the details of her wedding In addition to feeling superfluous, this focus on Rose was limiting For example, the book describes a congressional hearing featuring several panelists, all there to talk about the topic of whales in captivity Kirby recounts this hearing as a showdown between Rose and a SeaWorld spokesperson, completely omitting anything the other panelists said I would ve liked to have known what the other panelists said That s why I was there, for the information, not for the life and triumphs of Naomi Rose.Beyond that, the aforementioned corny writing was frustrating I don t need Kirby s contrived descriptions of everyone s appearance if it was important to him for us to know what everyone looks like, why not include a photo section That would have been way interesting than his describing women as older and matronly, talking about the blond strands running down one woman s back and other awkward turns of phrase, and constantly reminding us how pretty some of the young women are.In any event, this is still worth reading, and I landed at 4 stars based on the book s sheer informativeness I recommend following up with a viewing of Blackfish I d seen the movie before, but after spending a whole book with the trainers, it was fascinating to watch it again and see what they all actually looked like Plus, they provided bits of info that weren t covered in Death at SeaWorld, such as their analyses of what actually happened on the day of Dawn Brancheau s death Finally, if after all this you find you re really into cetaceans, I also recommend the documentaries The Cove and Racing Extinction for extra credit.


  5. says:

    Several years ago I watched a National Geographic special on sea lions I ll never forget it A little baby sea lion had just shed her fuzzy white fur and was starting to move around on the snow, when all of a sudden a giant killer whale cracked through the ice from below, leap up and grabbed her The orca didn t just kill the pup right away either No instead both orcas tossed the baby seal back and forth between them on their rostrums like they were playing The pup s cries were heartbreaking as the horrified mama wobbled back and forth along the shoreline crying out in distress, powerless, watching her baby die According to Kirby, whale experts aren t quite sure why killer whales do this They suspect it s to tenderize their food Yet this is what Tilikum and two female whales did to a 20 year old marine biology student, Keltie Byrne, back in 1991, when she slipped by the pool The three whales bounced her around like a beach ball, dragging her under the water, pulling her back and forth When she tried to escape on the side, she was pulled back in Even after Byrne was dead, Tilikum didn t want to give up his prize Nine years later, Tilikum would also kill Dawn Brancheau in a gruesome attack, which is the subject of an eye opening documentary called Blackfish seeing Blackfish, I became fascinated with orcas They are brilliantly clever For example, orcas will trap salmon in craggy cliffs, patiently blocking the entrance with their rostrums, thus cutting off the salmon s oxygen supply by depriving them of fresh sea water This makes the salmon disoriented and they ll just swim right toward the orca Killer whales also know how to take out great white sharks by tipping them on their backs, which makes them immobile Something humans didn t really know until recently Orcas will leap up onto the beach and jump, breaking the ice to catch sea lions And bored, captive killer whales will leave bits and pieces of their half eaten fish dinner floating on the water and wait for birds to swoop down so they can catch them Killer whales are also very social and family oriented Male orcas will stay with their mother s pod for life and help babysit Family members assist mothers through childbirth, and if a whale is injured, orcas will stick by their side, helping them to float on the surface of the water so they don t suffocate What was even surprising to me was that while orcas are all the same species, they are very different They are separated by culture and language Consequently, if you put three whales in a pool, they may not be able to speak to each other and may actually have some animosity toward each other One of my favorite parts of this book was about Dr Paul Spong, a New Zealander, who had a life changing epiphany while working with orcas He realized the depth of their intelligence when a female orca purposely did not select the lever that would have given her a fish What could be her motive just to mess with him And then he saw a young orca dance to music, moving with the tempo and keeping time, demanding that he play him different kinds of music for him every day I know I am anthropologizing when I say this which is a big no no but damn they sure seem to have a lot in common with us Obviously, orcas are too smart to be pets They need their families, their freedom and mental stimulation Orcas communicate through sounds and sonar, so being placed into a cement pool is like sensory deprivation Captive males dorsal fins always collapse in captivity And all killer whales die much younger in a captivity than they would in the wild It s cruel to confine them to such small spaces.One story made me cry That is the story of Keiko the star of Free Willy Talk about a sweetie Keiko was not like Tilikum I believe Keiko truly liked humans I say this because he was so gentle with them Picked up when he was still a baby, Keiko was raised around dolphins in a tank way too small for him and in water that was too warm, chlorinated, and filled with his own excrement He developed a nasty skin disease They said he would probably only live another six months But after Free Willy, he became a celebrity Everybody wanted to free him, and a huge expensive program began in the effort to train Keiko how to survive in the wild In many ways I think the program succeeded Keiko did learn how to catch his own food But Keiko never bonded with other whale pods Shy and unsure of himself, he stayed close to humans, going up to fishing boats, looking for handouts When he was found beached up on the shore in Norway, having died from pneumonia, a big controversy erupted saying that setting Keiko free was cruel Yet it doesn t change the fact that when Keiko was moved to the big seawater aquarium in Oregon, he swam around, jumping out of the water and making all kinds of whale noises Keiko did the same thing when he was put in the sea pen Can you imagine what that must have been like for him To spend almost all your life in a pool that was too small for you, and then to be back in the ocean Yet his story makes me so sad, because I will always think of him as never having found his place in the world So now that you know my thoughts about whale captivity, you may wonder what I thought of Kirby s book The answer is mehhhYes Kirby has a plethora of interesting information, but he also included a plethora of boring dribble He goes into exhaustive detail about the biographies of Dr Naomi Rose and former SeaWorld trainer, Jeff Ventre Who cares about what kind of music Dr Rose was listening to when she drove up for her interview with The Humane Society And why did Kirby have to tell me the color of every woman s hair Here I just wanted to read about whales, yet Kirby kept interrupting the good stuff with crap like this And while I knew this book would be one sided, I didn t think it would include things like Dr Rose calling SeaWorld officials names I m sure that s how she feels, but to me it ruined the book s integrity Not to mention, Jeff s credibility was diminished when I found out he was fired from SeaWorld for being unsafe It s hard for me to jump on the SeaWorld bash train when Rose keeps calling them delusional.This disappointed me, because to be honest, Kirby was preaching to the choir with me I already thought that SeaWorld cared about profit than the welfare of orcas or their trainers I m shocked at how little money trainers made, and I m horrified with the way SeaWorld callously separated mothers from their babies, knowing full well how social orcas are SeaWorld is likely to build another gift shop than make the pools bigger And if a whale was eating a trainer, I m sure that SeaWorld would let him be eaten, rather than to take out their prize, breeder, cash cow I m glad to see that OSHA stepped in and slapped SeaWorld with a big ass fine after Dawn s death I know SeaWorld reduced the fine, but they still haven t been able to lift the restrictions OSHA imposed on them or the stigma SeaWorld will have to really go the extra mile for people to think highly of them again In conclusion, I think moving captive whales into sea pens would be the kindest alternative, but unfortunately I don t see that happening Meanwhile Tilikum is a lonely whale, stuck in a pool by himself If I thought those whales were cruel tossing back and forth the sea lion, it is nothing compared to the cruelty of humans.


  6. says:

    I m not sure what made me pick up this book Maybe because it s about Sea World and I live in San Diego I ve seen them rescue random marine animals and I also worked at Sea World a couple summers during college Alas I ve been sort of anti Sea World lately for reasons I didn t fully comprehend This sure as hell explains it.The author does an excellent job of winding a narrative through this non fiction piece It reads much like a story, or at least parts of it do The science is fascinating and I don t know how anyone could read this and not agree that orcas should not be kept in captivity Some animals do fine in such surroundings provided the proper care and indeed even live longer Not so with the killer whales It is amazing to think a creature that normally travels 100 miles a day is confined to such a small place I couldn t live in Shamu Stadium the rest of my life and I m a tad smaller than an orca.The Shamu Show should be banned and I will not step foot in Sea World until it is and I say that as someone who loved going there growing up, who worked there, who s taken her children there They do some good, which even the author acknowledges Several times I ve been jogging on the beach and have seen them rescue a sick sea lion But orcas and the ridiculous non educational shows are an entirely different story These are highly social, highly intelligent creatures They live their lives in families, not segregated from one another in separate pools Sons travel beside their mothers forever At Sea World the various Baby Shamus are stripped from the mother immediately It s no wonder the infant mortality rate is so high, why the lifespan is a fraction of the age as those in the wild, why so many females die shortly after having one of their calves stripped So either those who run Sea World are stupid or they believe their own hype the ocean is scary and increasingly polluted, how else would the fine folks of America get to see these majestic creatures First of all, as one character aptly pointed out, if cetaceans are affected by humans in the wild pollution, loud boats, etc , the solution is not captivity, it s fixing the damned ocean And I liked the stat about how it s much cheaper to see the whales in the wild than pay for a day at Sea World Alas it s about the bottom line Even in court they ve testified that water work is needed for the bottom line All throughout the book those in charge constantly hide things, lie, cover up, and provide misleading data I m no animal rights activist I ll wear leather and eat meat all day long but it s absolutely heartbreaking These are truly intelligent, social creatures being made crazy by their imprisonment A healthy chunk of this takes place during the time I worked there I remember the protesters but like all Sea World employees was given talking points and healthy doses of Kool Aid This was when Free Willy came out and it was fascinating to learn the whole story behind Keiko.This is a very important read, for anyone.


  7. says:

    I never knew I had an opinion on whale captivity I was horrified at the death of the trainer at Sea World and believed it s just common sense not to hang out with killer whales After watching the movie Blackfish recently, I was struck by the seemingly deep emotions experienced by the whales when they were captured, both by the pod members still at Sea and those taken away I needed to know I know now but this is a decidedly one sided picture as Sea World did not participate in Kirby s interviews or information gathering Kirby presents than enough information on the subject with plenty of research and footnotes I certainly don t have the answers, Kirby doesn t, and the many players he follows in the book unfortunately don t But it s a great read for those who have an interest in about the subject I have been to Sea World, marvelled at the water shows and bought the souvenirs I have the pictures Now Well, ignorance really is bliss.Update Sea World is appealing the ruling that they cannot have trainers in the water as the whales are basically unpredictable and suggesting their trainers fall under the same definition of professional sports, ie race car drivers or football players Sea World says dancing whales and trainers in the water together are a must for the livelihood of Sea World And the livelihood of trainers and orcas Stay tuned.


  8. says:

    One of the most powerful books I have ever read and along with Unbroken, my favorite nonfiction read of the year This book exposes the true corporate greed motivating Sea World as opposed to the science conservation image that they want the public to swallow hook, line, and sinker Much like how Upton Sinclairs, The Jungle another favorite of mine exposed the seedy side of the meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, this book lays bare the Sea World behind the facade they put forth to the public so they will not know that their money is paying for the enslavement and torture of intelligent beings When I first picked up the book I thought the title Death at Sea World referred to the death of popular Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau but by the time I finished I realized that it could just as easily apply to all of the Orcas who have died at Sea World so that the public can get their entertainment fix and Sea World their money.Before I started reading this book I was under the impression that this book mainly concerned the death of Dawn Brancheau While it does address this incident it covers so much In the past it didn t even occur to me to think that Orca s should not be kept in captivity I knew the rinky dink Miami Seaquarium by me was low caliber The tanks were dirty and Lolita the whale looked sad in her undersized pool but didn t have any problem with Sea World I had taken my daughter to Sea World when she was five and had a wonderful time It looked clean and state of the art in technology The performance pools for the whales were small but surely they must have huge tanks in the back where you can t see right This was to be only one of many misconceptions I had exposed after reading this book What I learned led me to completely change my mind and come to the conclusion that whales of any kind as well as dolphins should not be kept in captivity.This book begins by telling the journey of two very different people who finally wind up at the same place, as champions for the Orca s that cannot speak for themselves Naomi Rose is a scientist who studied Orca s in the wild for many years After she finished school she was hired as the senior scientist for the Humane Society International She did not start out against whale captivity but her many years of research in the field led her to believe that Sea World s assertion that whales live longer in the wild is incorrect In fact Naomi studied and came to know the relatives of the very same whales being held in Sea World s tanks today According to her not only do whales live longer in the wild, they exhibit almost none of the behaviors that they are forced to perform in shows In contrast Jeff Ventre was a Sea World trainer He took a job there under the impression that he would be involved in scientific research He soon found out that there wasn t any science happening behind the scenes, it was all show business He was making minimum wage while performing dangerous stunts that could potentially kill him After watching numerous whales injure themselves and others and die he began to speak up at work which led to his eventual firing He quickly came to the conclusion that the way Sea World was running it s whale program was disastrous for the whales as well as the the trainers.The book goes on to document just how the whales are captured in the wild Giant nets scoop them up In one infamous incident, the whale round up at Penn Cove, eighty killer whales were caught in one net This was the catch that netted Lolita who lives in Miami, the only whale still alive from that day Many of her family were killed in the round up Whales spend their entire lifetimes with their families Calves stay with mothers for many years This is an important fact that Sea World has tried to keep hidden from the public and even their own staff because the routinely break up families and force whales into artificial pods with sometimes disastrous results when the whales fight for dominance with their tank mates Sea World also splits up mothers from babies before the baby is even two One trainer recounted an agonizing night listening while a mother and baby cried and screamed for each other before they were split apart forever Sea World also forcibly impregnates female whales much earlier than they would be in the wild and repeatedly This causes stress on the mothers and babies Some mothers do not survive the birth or die shortly after and some babies are never healthy and die young.The book also goes into great detail about Keiko the whale who starred in Free Willy Keiko was trapped in a tiny tank in Mexico and was becoming sickly After the movie came out a bunch of support came through and plans were made to free him from Mexico and release him back into his pod in Norway What I never knew was the extent that Sea World tried to get their hooks into him and block his release Sea World was low on whale sperm and they needed Keiko for their breeding program since the public now frowned on capturing whales in the wild In addition they had a vested interest in seeing the release plan fail because they didn t want anyone to get the idea that whales could be freed Although they tried to block the plan, Keiko was released and died 17 months later, a fact they like to crow about At lease Keiko got to experience the open ocean again and in fact swam over a thousand miles How much his poor treatment in Mexico ultimately contributed to his demise is still debated In any case Sea World used the incident as a further point in their case that the it would be cruel to release the Orca s in their care.When Sea World soured on taking in Keiko because of his unsightly skin condition acquired in Mexico they set their sites on what would become the world s next most known whale Tilikum who was residing up in Canada Another fact Sea World tried to keep under wraps was that Tilikum had killed his trainer Keltie Barnes which was why he was up for sale Sea World was desperate to get breeding underway so they took him on even though they knew he was dangerous to humans People who worked at Sea World were told that if they got in the pool with Tilikum they would come out a corpse As for Keltie Barnes, everyone at Sea World liked to believe that her death was due to trainer error In fact everyone who was injured by a whale was injured because of their own failing It was never the whales fault because then Sea World would have to admit that it was too dangerous to work with them So through the years many trainers were injured sometimes even in front of spectators When uncomfortable questions were asked a whole host of lies and covers up were scripted to convince the public that the whales were just peachy and in fact liked captivity better than being free.The years go by Many whales die, some very young, and Tilikum makes human kill number two, a homeless man who snuck into his tank at night Sea World seems to deflect this PR nightmare because no one seems to really care because he was a drifter and was trespassing anyway The breeding program grows and is quite successful with Tilikum fathering many whales although inbreeding is becoming a bit of a problem Sea World has some extra whales and they decide to lease sell four of them to a start up operation in Spain Naomi Rose does what she can but fails to block the transfer Lead trainer Dawn Brancheau goes over to Spain and helps set up the program along with some Sea World staff While there she befriends a trainer named Alexis Martinez.Then comes the day that Sea World has to finally face the music because Dawn Brancheau is killed by Tilikum Sea World s trainer error story won t tread water this time because Dawn was too revered Instead they try to put forth the idea that her ponytail floated in Tilikum s mouth instead of eye witness reports that saw him grab her by the arm and yank her in Whatever the case Dawn has been killed violently and in front of the public Sea World is facing negative exposure like never before One of the the fall outs from Dawn s death is an OSHA investigation which Sea World blocks at very turn by making trainers unavailable for interviews and refusing to turn over requested documentation.The book concludes with the big showdown in court between Sea World and OSHA in court In the past Sea World has been able to pressure lawmakers into making investigations go away They even got then California governor Arnold Swarzenegger to exert his political pressure to their advantage This time if they hope to get their trainers back into the water with the whales they will have to go to court PETA also throws their hat into the legal ring in an effort to free the whales now numbering in Spain Things have gotten quite critical there because the whales tanks are falling apart and a whale named Keto has killed Dawn Brancheaus friend Alexis Martinez on Christmas Eve That was another trainer death Sea World was desperate to cover up Incredible While the court case rages on scientists, journalists, former trainers, and animal activists unite to carry the fight on They formed a group called super pod 2 and you can learn about their mission here It is quite clear that Sea World intends to carry on it s show while pushing for expansion into China Whatever it takes to keep their bottom line and the death of a beloved trainer hasn t seemed to make so much as a dent in their business Until the public says enough and affects the revenue stream of Sea World they will keep on keeping on Thankfully the whales have champions like Naomi Rose who is a true hero and Jeff Ventre and many others who are dedicating their lives to free cetaceans from captivity.No matter what your stance on the issue is I challenge everyone to read this book It was incredibly eye opening I hope that I get to see these animals in the wild where they belong in my lifetime The best course of action would be for Sea World to suspend their breeding program and to move the whales that they have in captivity into sea pens where they can at least have room to swim After their tireless efforts to ensure our entertainment it is at the very least what they deserve Lolita s plight is of special concern to me since I live so close to her and her tank is the smallest She is also isolated and this social, intelligent creature does not have the company of even one other whale David Kirby s book has made me a convert I hope to be able to join in in some of the work being done to free Lolita This review is the longest I have ever written but this book saddened and enraged me Even though my review is so long there is so much of the story I haven t even touched on I urge everyone to read David Kirby s expose of the marine mammal display industry.PS Ever wonder why Sea World names all their Orcas Shamu Because they don t want the public to know how often they kill Shamu The original Shamu only lived to be six years old Shame on them.


  9. says:

    Well, I guess the one thing I can say about this book is that it opened up a whole new world for me Truthfully, I never gave whales much of a thought Sure, I remember all the bumper stickers and such about save the whales, but I guess it just wasn t something that was very relevant in my life I did see the movie Free Willy , but to me it was just a movie, nothing I have never been to Sea World, and I may have seen a whale show only a couple of times at a smaller aquarium or zoo Also, I had never heard any of the media coverage on trainers being killed or injured So when I received this book from the Goodread s giveaway for free I was surprised I didn t remember signing up for it, but maybe I did and thought it would be something different Reluctantly, I started reading.What really struck me with this book is the intelligence of whales, and their family structure I found that part of the book the most interesting The author went in depth covering whales in the wild and in captivity I learned than I ever thought I would know, and I was really fascinated with it I have come to the conclusion that I think it is tragic to keep this huge mammals in captivity, to be kept in too small of enclosures and making them perform The descriptions of the capture of taking a wild whale away from its family was so horrible it seems like a type of animal slavery This was a very thought provoking book.I have lost any desire I ever had to go to Sea World, but now there is nothing that I would like to do than see these magnificent creatures in the wild That is something to put on my bucket list.I won this book through the Goodread s First Reads program.


  10. says:

    Slice this book in half and you ve got all the information you re going to get from David Kirby s collection of accounts and arguments against captivity of whales The rest was biography of a handful of people, which was not what I signed up for when I picked to read this book I wanted to read about whales, not about Dr Naomi Rose s time researching Pages devoted to recounting people s histories bored me Outside of his biographical narrative of the humans, most of his arguments were redundant At least twice per chapter, or so it felt, Kirby felt it necessary to point out the drastic difference in life expectancy of wild vs captive orcas There were also editing errors that seemed to have been missed in my ebook version as well His writing left much to be desired.There are good points raised in this book, so please don t think I support the captivity industry nor that I m giving this book two of five stars for its stance Unfortunately, it didn t present the pro captivity side very well, which is somewhat understandable as SeaWorld didn t work with him, despite his requests That said, was there really no one else to explain why they felt captivity was a good option for orcas Had SeaWorld worked with him, the poorly represented argument would have stood as a testament that captivity is not a good thing.Most of the information he presents is available online for free Even some of the autopsies he cites are available as well as police reports 911 calls, and video of various incidents with the orcas Google The Orca Project and you ll have most, if not all the information presented in this book.It s a shame that this book wasn t better, I was really hopeful.


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