his parole was denied for the 14th time.

Over at the Florida Marine Mammal Penitentiary, an inmate killed a warden in species-appropriate fashion yesterday.

Now, I’m not a tree-hugging hemp wearer, but I know that orcas are highly intelligent animals with fairly complex social structures.  Putting a bunch of them into a little tank to spend the rest of their lives in there would be like chucking a human into a clear-walled version of ADX Florence supermax.  Actually, it’s even worse than that, because the inmates at SeaWorld are trained to perform.

I know that if you locked me in a transparent room for the rest of my life, fed me the same three things every week, and made me perform five shows a day for chunky tourists from Wisconsin, it wouldn’t take me very long to snap like a stale pretzel.


59 thoughts on “his parole was denied for the 14th time.

  1. JohnO says:

    Neko Case sang about this!

    “I’m a (man man man )maneater
    Still you’re surprised (prised prised) when I eat you”

    Prophetic or common sense?

  2. Diane says:

    “…shows a day for chunky tourists from Wisconsin…” Hey! It’s not just Wisconsinites – hasn’t the first lady told you that obesity is a national epidemic!

    Unless I misheard the news this morning, this is the THIRD time this particular whale has killed – it should have become whale oil after the first one.

    In semi-related news, I read yesterday that some nutjobs want to give “non-human personhood” status to dolphins. Shoot.me.now.

  3. Fred2 says:

    whale oil? Why? It’s not the family pet.

    It’s a large male Orca – they don’t call them “killer whales” for PR purposes , those things hunt Great White Sharks for entertainment and sport. They’re smart, pack oriented, and pretty agressive.

    I’m shocked MORE of them don’t make quick work of the staff, or generally raise hell in with Kayakers and surfers inthe wild. I’m guessing salmon is dumber and tastier.

  4. Chuck Milam says:

    Hey! I’m from Wisconsin, and I am offended…Oh, OK. I admit it: I resemble that remark. 🙂

  5. Terry says:

    Killer whales, Lions, Tigers, etc. – all are, by nature, born to be hunters and killers of prey. Why are people so surprised when one of these creatures, that’s been kept in captivity for years, suddenly remembers its job? “Oh yeah – I’m a KILLER whale!” heh…

  6. Nr Fixit says:

    You know, there’s a reason they don’t call them “Cuddly Whales”.

    Mr Fixit

  7. medic says:

    1: @Fred2: Orcas only eat what other wales in the pack teach them is edible. In that way, they are like humans in their dietary choices. That is why they don’t eat people in the wild.

    2: @Diane: Seaworld hires off duty firefighters to staff medical services. I used to work there on my days off. Many people I know still do, as medics, trainers, and other staff and management.

    The whale was involved with two others in a trainer death in Canada in 1991. Another incident in 1999 involved a tourist who snuck (sneaked?) into the park after hours and tried swimming with the whales in their 52 degF water without a wetsuit. He died of hypothermia. The whale DID however, bite into him postmortem, apparently mistaking him for a toy (toys are used as training devices- as a reward)

    3 In yesterday’s incident, three park medics and the fire department responded. It took some time for them to get her out, as the whale would not turn her loose. When he finally brought her to the surface, they wrestled her away, and in the tug o war, her arm was torn off and subsequently swallowed by the whale.

    Sea World claims that she drowned, but friends who were there tell me that brain matter was exposed from one bite. This was a definite attack on the whale’s part.

    • harp1034 says:

      Thank yoy for your infromation. The arm being torn off is news that has not been reported. IMHO that killer whale should get a harpoon right between the eyes. But of course it is worth more than a human. Don’t want to hurt SeaWorld’s bottom line do we?

  8. Ed says:

    What makes matters worse, is that the whale was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit!

  9. Eric says:

    I used to work at HBJ back when they owned Sea World and we could visit the park during our lunch break. I had an orca follow me around its tank as I walked by…very creepy feeling to be eyed by a predator, especially at eye level!

  10. Did it my way says:

    Whales will be whales. When on their turf-their rules.

    See Ya

  11. Tam says:

    Orcas almost never attack humans in the wild. Part of me think that this is because they’re about smart enough to do your taxes and they know who has all the harpoon guns.

    Stick one in the pokey, and all bets are off.

    The absolute infrequency of attacks by captive killer whales on their human co-performers seems to indicate that most of them don’t terribly mind the soft life of placid waters and all the fish you can eat, but when one does… look out.

    • Tam says:

      PS: I’m still holding a member of F. silvestris catus hostage and denying it access to its beloved jungle home.

    • LabRat says:

      Tam- if you want interesting, look up the history of orcas and the Australian whaling town of Eden. It’s not the only case, but the best-documented case of orcas helping the whalers. They apparently regard big baleen whales roughly the way our ancestors must have once regarded choice mammoth, and they were happy to work for a share.

      I firmly believe these animals are bright enough to at least guess there is another predatory intelligence inside the wetsuit. Sure as hell wouldn’t bet my life on the attitude being benevolent, though.

  12. pax says:

    Stale pretzels don’t snap.

    I just checked.


  13. Heath J says:

    Shit happens.

    It’s tragic, but sometimes 6 ton wild animals hurt people.

    The saddest part of this whole thing, is what do you do with a whale that’s not really safe to play with anymore?

    You can’t turn him loose, he wouldn’t make it in the wild, and I’m thinking nobody will be jumping in the tank with him anymore…

  14. LabRat says:

    The whale was probably playing rather than engaging in what we’d think of as a true “I’mma fuck you up!” agonistic attack.

    That said, mice don’t get much out of being the playthings of cats. Apparently the “he was only playing” defense was used in both previous cases, which is a pretty major Fail on the part of the facilities to consider that animals will do what they enjoyed once again.

    • medic says:

      According to people I know who were there, the whale grabbed her by the hair and shook her violently as it dragged her in.

      The trainers said it was definite aggression, not play.

      The trainers never get in the water with this whale, because he is aggressive. Since the 1999 incident, they have a guard and a security camera near the whale at all times.

      • LabRat says:

        Playing and aggression aren’t exclusionary concepts. Orcas who are batting a seal back and forth between them without eating it are playing, they just are treating it as a toy rather than a playmate.

        If he’d wanted to treat her as a rival whale he was upset with rather than a plaything, he would have done a hell of a lot more damage to her than that. And they definitely did excuse his previous two episodes as “play”- they just started to realize he wasn’t *safe*.

        • theflatwhite says:

          Assuming the accuracy of medic’s source is good, I’d wager the trainers are fully capable of recognizing agression from their orcas.

        • LabRat says:

          And yet she put herself within reach of him. There was very clearly a failure of the show in general and that trainer in particular to take him seriously enough, and “he was only playing”- despite that play, predation, and fighting are highly tied together in all carnivores- was very likely to have been the reason.

  15. anonymous says:

    Should creatures such as these be kept as curiosities? I’ll let others debate that.

    But when they are, anybody that swims with them takes the chance that one could snap…literally.

    At that same park they have a polar bear exhibit…natural habitat, right. Cold ass water with some fake rocks and a giant glass window above and below the waterline for gawkers to gawk through, and just enough room for those two white giants to mindlessly, aimlessly, paddle back and forth across their twenty foot wide pond.

    In their natural habitat, a polar bear will actively track and pursue its prey across frozen tundra for days, including humans. Anybody want to climb in that tank with these two that have had every element of their natural instinct violated and eviscerated?

    I’m pretty down with the whole dominion thing, but I’m not sure creating tourist attractions with
    wild creatures to the point of inducing psychosis is a wise use of natural resources. And I sure as hell won’t be surprised when there are more occurrences like this one.

    Let the “trainer” beware.

    Al Terego

  16. ASM826 says:

    I think they are intelligent. I think it is wrong to keep them in captivity and make them perform tricks.

    I also think this one deliberately killed this woman and will kill again if given the chance. I am not romanticizing the animal or the risks.

    As an American and a libertarian, if you think that keeping these animals in captivity is wrong, don’t spend your money to see these shows. When the businesses that depend on these animals fail, people will stop keeping them in pens.

  17. MarkHB says:

    Hum. I’m strangely unsympathetic. As our host noted, I’d be cranky if I’d been locked in a bathtub and made to perform for the entertainment of others.

    Hell, I even eschewed the Cubical Farm.

  18. Fred2 says:

    Salmon vs. Surfers.

    I’m thinking that most humans in the water don’t taste very good- all that neoprene, fibreglass, nylon, etc… plays havoc onthe digestive system.

    That and they have all those loud annoying toys, much better just to give them the hairy eyeball from time to time and concentrate on salmon.

  19. Tam says:

    Am I the only one who finds it mildly ironic that the initial post (and its associated Tweets) were written by a man whose children are in the constant presence of multiple pack-hunting carnivores?

  20. anonymous says:

    One of those “associated tweets” being:

    “Predictable reactions on killer whale incident: Conservatives want death penalty, Liberals say orca had “bad childhood”, is “misunderstood”.”

    And the Libertarians say “leave that bigass ill-tempered bastard alone and he’ll leave us alone…unless we get hungry and then he must be harvested, or unless he threatens us and then he must die and we’ll make a cage with his bones. Umm, you be the hunter. Not me, you be the hunter. Huh, then we’re going to have to form some kind of society. Oh, wait.”

    • Kristopher says:

      That’s why I’m registered as a Republican. Not that they are on the side of the angels … I just can’t wear the Wookie suit 24/7.

  21. MarkHB says:

    I notice the show’s re-opening.

    If I was really, really cynical, I’d love to see the attndance figures for “the KILLER killer whale!” before and after this incident.

  22. Skip says:

    Three strikes, yer out!
    Lotta boots, an’ stuff for the food line.

  23. misbeHaven says:

    I have a friend who used to train whales until she got smart enough to get out of it. She says that they’re very intelligent (as in the “do your taxes for you” level of intelligence), but that they have no tolerance for mistakes on the part of the trainers. She told me about one instance where they were doing the “stand on the whale’s nose and have it shoot you out of the water” trick… a trainer missed the foot plant and jabbed the whale’s nose, and the whale grabbed her, took her down to the bottom of the pool and laid on her for a while as punishment. The other trainers took a scuba tank down so the lady could breathe until the whale decided to let her up. As it turned out, the lady wasn’t injured, but she certainly would have drowned without the scuba tank. My friend says that incident was what started her on the path to a new career.

    Of note, the way my friend tells it, that whale did not bite the lady any harder than needed to hold her, and did not attempt to stop the other trainers from bringing her the scuba tank… that (to my friend’s observation) it was very clearly “punishment” and not “an attack”. She says that wasn’t the only incident of whales punishing the trainers for mistakes.

    • Schmidt says:

      They display some pretty cunning behaviour… four of them cooperate together to make big waves to get a seal off from an ice floe.

      Then they put the hapless creature back on the floe, perhaps because it was just a lesson for the kids.

  24. Louise says:

    That poor orca has been trying to send a message over the years.
    Having killed 3 trainers (that we know about), wouldn’t one think that it’s time to let the poor bugger back to it’s natural habitat along with all the other ones?
    I think that it’s time to stop exploiting these magnificent creatures for the almighty dollar.
    The amount of money that place and others like it make every day is obscene.
    I hope they keep striking back, good for them!

    • Heath J says:

      I sincerely hope you don’t ever breed…

    • medic says:

      You are a total retard. Being raised in captivity, this whale could no more survive in the wild than Marko’s Dachshunds.

      Sea World is not about to let that whale go. My source also tells me that EVERY Orca born in captivity in the entire world over the last 15 years was fathered by this particular whale.

      Think about that and what it means to Sea World to own the ONLY breeding male Orca in the world.

  25. anonymous says:

    I understand the sentiment, Louise, but here’s the thing. The claim is that a good portion of the proceeds from the tourist thing (and btw, we took the kids probably fifteen years ago, and I gotta say it is awesome to see those things blast out of the water like a sea missile) goes to research to better the odds for the orca and others’ survival. And they do produce a lot of captive births, so in many cases, the tanks may not be “natural” habitat but it’s the only one they know, and they would be unlikely to have the skills they would need to prosper in the ocean.

    Let me preface this by saying that if one of them attacked me or mine, then as with any other “predator” no claim of “just playing” or “deprived upbringing” will save him from me killing him and cutting him to tiny pieces if I possibly can, because that’s my job.

    But the thought that these majestic animals -and others similarly kept- have the capacity to feel trapped, and despondent, and finally psychotic, then stop it. Stop breeding them in captivity for a lifetime of confinement and forced behavior, stop endangering naive, idealistic young trainers, just stop.

    Let creatures live where they live, do what they do, and let Nature take her course. A little harvesting, a little thinning, a little reasonable protection of habitat…but otherwise leave them the fuck alone.

    Al Terego

    • Kristopher says:

      Screw that … we’re at the top of the food chain, so we should act like it.

      Send in condemned prisoners and gladiators with nets and tridents. Freedom/cash for the winner ( including the Orca ).

      Televise it. Make lots of money. Once Orcas become a big money entertainment item, the resource will be protected from poaching.

      • anonymous says:

        “Once Orcas become a big money entertainment item, the resource will be protected from poaching.”

        Like keep ’em in some bigass fish tanks and charge to watch ’em frolic and drown the occasional trainer/toy…oh, wait.

        “we’re at the top of the food chain, so we should act like it.”

        Damn straight. Rig up a schooner with harpoons and manly men and chow down till you have your fill. Then head on back into port and let ’em regroup and repopulate for the next big hunt. No, wait dammit, that’s been done too…


        • Kristopher says:

          Nah … that sounds too much like work.

          I’m thinking entertainment/sport.

          Here’s yer trident, Mr Nugent! Remember, cameras are on the glass side of the tank.

        • anonymous says:

          Dude, I have launched harpoons from the mighty whalers, and it is the ultimate “entertainment/sport”.

          Well, we were gigging frogs from airboats, but same thing. Blackest Everglades, moving at speed with an airplane engine a few feet behind your head, nothing visible but the shafts of light from the spotlights that scan for those neon pairs of eyes, and an operator so skilled that you barely have to move the shaft of your gig to stab your prey as you glide past in shallow grassy water…Sometimes the eyes are wider apart and yellow; Don’t gig that, it’s a ‘gator. It is a surreal experience, and bonus, those froglegs are delectable, and there’ll be more out there for next trip.

          Your visions of coliseums, royals chortling at the commoners battling the lions and each other to the death, is a little too current-events for me.


  26. dr mac says:

    Maybe if you realized we could drain all the water out of your tank you would feel differently about it.

  27. B Smith says:

    “I know that if you locked me in a transparent room for the rest of my life, fed me the same three things every week, and made me perform five shows a day for chunky tourists from Wisconsin, it wouldn’t take me very long to snap like a stale pretzel”

    It depends…are the whales Democrat, or libertarian-leaning?

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