Tilikum spent a lot of time in isolation pool SeaWorld Orlando. Photo via Colleen  Gorman.


January 7, 2017

The Editor, Times-Colonist: [not published]

Two articles in the January 7, 2016 Times Colonist  about the death in captivity of Tilikum, an Icelandic orca who was captive in Sea World Orlando and formerly captive in the now defunct SeaLand of the Pacific in Oak Bay, refer  to the incorrect “ponytail grab” version of events when Tilikum killed Orlando orca trainer Dawn Brancheau.  That was SeaWorld’s initial version of events, a version that blamed Dawn for carelessness, and which has been proven by video footage not to be what happened.

Tilikum took Dawn Brancheau by the arm. He wasn’t playing with her ponytail. Orca intelligence is undisputed. The “ponytail version” undermines Brancheau’s status, undermines Tilikum’s decision making and is an effort to ignore his rage.  Tilikum knew what he was doing. He savaged her body and left her whistle at the bottom of the pool – the whistle, the symbol of control. Video (“Slow Motion Footage of Dawn With Tilikum Seconds Before”) can be found on The Orca Project blog, April 20, 2011 post “SeaWorld Trainer Death Theory Debunked as a Ponytail Tale”.

As a related thought, I hope soon “anthropomorphism” will be universally seen for what it is – a human delusion that any individual of another species who demonstrates intelligence, thought, planning, decision making, will, and emotion is “aww, kind of  like us”.

Post- “Blackfish”, people will know that orcas and cetaceans are “the minds in the waters”, and that orca and cetacean captivity is an atrocity.

One of the  Southern Residents, Lolita Tokitae of L pod, taken from her family  in August 1970,  languishes  in the officially substandard Miami Seaquarium. Will she be next to die alone in a concrete box?

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