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Monday, November 26, 2012

Death at SeaWorld - A Review



A few weeks ago I posted about meeting David Kirby, author of Death at Sea World and Naomi Rose, the book's "main character".  If you missed it, you can find that post HERE

Due to the craziness of the holiday season and the start of the Ocean Advocates blog, it has taken me a while to finish reading it.  

Death at SeaWorld chronicles Naomi's life, from her childhood up through her current work.  Naomi is responsible for much of the research known about orcas in captivity.  David explains much of her research in the book, including her dissertation on the social dynamics of male killer whales.  Her first job working with Humane Society International started with the push of bringing captivity issues into the public eye following the release of the popular Free Willy movie.  Naomi has also been pivotal in other work including the eventual release of Keiko (AKA "Willy"), advocating for the SeaWorld whales and the recent OSHA hearing.

Death at SeaWorld then alternates to take an amazing look inside the horrific world of captivity and the history of many of the orcas kept there and other parks.  The book delves into the behind the scenes "off behavior" episodes that not only never made it into the public eye, but were often kept hidden from the very trainers that risk their lives every day working with the whales. 

Former trainers including Jeff Ventre, Samantha Berg and Carol Ray give an inside look at some of these incidents behind the scenes.  Missing information in incident reports and animal profiles, SeaWorld's pressure and pursuations, etc.  As a former season ticket holder who dreamed of becoming a whale trainer at one time, these stories were appalling! 

Of course, the main story in Death at SeaWorld is the horrific death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 by Tillikum, AKA Tilly.  The book details Tillikum's capture from Iceland, as well as his aggressive past.  Tilly was first held in Sea Land of the Pacific where he killed his first trainer, Keltie Byrne, in 1991.  He was brought to SeaWorld Orlando via an emergency importation permit in January 1992.  Trainers were not made aware of how dangerous he was.  They were taught or programmed to think that it was their fault any time any whale went "off behavior".  Details of Daniel Dukes, the second fatality caused by Tilly in 1999, were also included.  

Death at SeaWorld exposes some awful truths and the research behind them.  It will definitely change your mind about ever going to see another whale (or dolphin) show again, at least I hope it will.

For more information, check out David's site HERE

19 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book. Definitely going to check out the suggested links. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I didn't know that whale had killed a trailer prior to Naomi.

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  3. This sounds like a great book!

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  4. Good for David writing this book to bring these things to our attention. I still dream of going out a boat one day to see whales & dolphins in their natural habitat, but I don't know if I'll ever purposely go see one in captivity again. You, my dear, have had an impact.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this - clearly a matter close to your heart. I've found myself wondering a lot recently about the human need to put precious things on display.

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  6. That's appalling! It's not my cup of tea, so thanks for the thorough review - I feel like I got the main ideas and now don't need to read it. I just can't take stuff like that where animals are abused for our amusement.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/

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  7. I remember hearing about this. I've heard horror stories from trainers who worked at Marineland in Niagara Falls. So sad. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  8. It was interesting to read the rest of your review. I have learnt alot through reading your posts. Hope the new blog is going well for you :)

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  9. Holy moly -- that's awful information about Tilly. I can't believe the creature killed three people who were blameless. Their families should sue. I've never been to see any live dolphin or whale show. I think it's mean to make animals perform. I think circuses shouldn't use wild animals either.
    Great post!

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  10. This is something that is close to my heart and it changed my thoughts on Sea World when the story first broke. Great review!

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  11. Wow. I might have to read this one. Thanks for the review.

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  12. Hi Heather. I loved the Free Willy movie. This book sounds awesome!

    I'm back on the blogs, catching up after my month off! Now I want to see what everyone has been up to, and I'm reading so many book reviews. Awesome. :D

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  13. That is fascinating and sounds like a terrific read. I'll add it to my list! :)

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  14. I'm not sure I want to read this if it's about cruelty to animals or anything. can't hack that stuff!

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  15. I hate hearing about things like this, I don't think Whales should be kept captive anyway. It sounds like a good book though, thanks for the review!
    There's an award for you on my blog :)

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