Why was Tillikum the Whale Still "Working" Near Humans?

According to the first reports about the attack on Dawn Brancheau, trainer, by a killer whale, Brancheau fell into the water, the whale rose to the surface, grabbed her and took her under water, drowning her. A witness describing the event not long after it happened gave a different scenario: the whale (Tillikum), was obviously agitated before the attack, and it was definitely an attack; the whale thrashed her back and forth before taking her under. Then other details emerge: Brancheau was feeding the animals, threw a bucket of water (perhaps with fish in it) on a whale. Tillikum had been involved in the deaths of two other humans. In one of those cases, two killer whales had participated with him.

A most important question this horrible event raises is why was Tillikum still performing before the public, especially anywhere near a trainer or any human being? His actions are probably absolutely natural to his kind in that situation: Killer whales hunt and kill seals in the same manner as this attack; sometimes males join together in hunting packs. He’s a predator and has been acting like one. Brancheau’s death seems totally avoidable and therefore even more tragic.


About rmkinder

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2 Responses to Why was Tillikum the Whale Still "Working" Near Humans?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I had the same thought when I read the headline. I've often wondered how we can discuss the intelligence of dolphins and still cage them, pretending to train or save them. I think the whale hunts in Japan are more humane. –Kristine


  2. Anonymous says:

    This morning's New York Times had an article about Frank Cheafari, the officer who had to shoot Travis the chimp when the animal attacked a woman. The officer has been in therapy over the incident, traumatized by the horrific wounds to the woman the animal attacked and by killing the chimp. Here, too, was a case where the animal was probably acting normally given the situation or acting unstandably given his history of living like a human when he's not a human. Chimps have special needs and humans can't meet all of them. Animals in captivity often don't breed, become depressed, and sometimes go crazy. I hate to think of animals in medical or other scientific experiments. The astronaut chimps were, I believe, in small cages for years.


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