SeaWorld President Jim Atchison gives a press conference Thursday about this week’s fatal incident. He spoke in front of an orca tank at the Orlando theme park.
One of SeaWorld Orlando’s resident orcas, Tilikum, made the kind of headlines that family theme parks never want to make when he killed trainer Dawn Brancheau this week, and now the question of whether “Tilly” should stay at SeaWorld understandably has arisen. Some killer whale experts think he should be set free, pointing to the giant mammals’ need to roam the oceans instead of cruise around relatively tiny tanks with humans for show, but that plan hasn’t always been successful with captive whales. —KA
The Orlando Sentinel:
“There is absolutely a risk in keeping him where he is,” said Naomi Rose, a marine-mammal scientist for the Humane Society of the United States. She predicted Tilikum will kill again if he remains in captivity.
“I will take bets on that and win,” Rose said. “Boredom, depression — these cause physical problems in human beings, chimpanzees and, believe me, killer whales.”
SeaWorld officials said Friday they intend to continue using Tilikum in performances. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment President Jim Atchison said removing him from shows “would be a shame.” The orca’s participation in shows is “very important to his overall health and husbandry.”