Orca kills trainer

A trainer at the SeaWorld wildlife park in Orlando, Florida, has died after being bitten around the waist, violently shaken and held under water by one of the park's orcas. Read the BBC's report here.

The orca - also known as a killer whale and named Tilikum - has also been linked to the death of a man at the park in 1991, though it transpires that the man was found floating naked and dead in the orca's pool and is believed to have either crept into the park at night or hidden until closing time. Authorities put his death down to hypothermia rather than a fatal case of orcas and one can only suspect that, due to his nakedness, he might well be a candidate for a
Darwin Award if we knew more. Other - as yet un-named - orcas are said to have attacked trainers in 2004 and 2006.

File:Orca 2.jpg
An orca, that happened to be passing Acid Rabbi's flat as we wrote this article.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Orcas, while weighing a respectable 5,450kg and equipped with the sort of teeth that scare dragons, are not generally known to attack humans despite the fact that for an orca to eat a human would be no more hassle that it is for an obese teenager to eat a Big Mac (and we probably taste better too). There a number of cases, in fact, in which wild orcas have shown what can only be interpreted as a friendly interest in the humans with which they come into contact.

If wild orcas, which need to spend time thinking about where their next meal is coming from rather than sitting back and waiting for the next bucket of herrings, rarely attack humans why would a captive orca want to kill its trainer? After all, it'd be used to human contact and you don't drown the hand that chucks the herrings into your pool.

Doesn't it suggest that SeaWorld is doing something wrong? Zoos have their purpose - there a several species of animal that today only survive because of specimens in zoos, some of which have been used to establish new wild populations - but an animal as undoubtedly intelligent as an orca is never going to take to captivity too kindly unless provided with a suitably vast pool (when the entire ocean has been your playground you're not going to like swimming around inside what in comparison isn't even a molecule of water) and will require a vast amount of stimulation.

We hope SeaWorld will look at why their orcas are attacking humans, rather than blaming the orcas themselves.

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