AirTalk for July 12, 2013

Part 1: Can killer whales be kept safely in captivity?

Killer Whales performing at SeaWorld

flickr/MomMaven

Killer Whales performing at SeaWorld

In February 2010, a performing killer whale named Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau, killed a trainer at SeaWorld. People blamed Brancheau’s death on “trainer error,” but Tilikum is notorious for being the only Orca in the world that has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. In Blackfish, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite explores the complexities of the relationships between trainers and killer whales in captivity and looks at the treatment the animals face.

Is it possible for these powerful animals to be tamed? Are all whales in captivity traumatized by that experience? Or is it possible for them to be kept safely?

Guests:

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the documentary “Blackfish”

John Hargrove, former killer whale trainer with nearly two decades training orcas at SeaWorld of California, SeaWorld of Texas, and Marineland in the south of France

Part 2: California lawmaker wants to ban SeaWorld’s killer whale shows (original airdate: 7/12/13)

Last year's documentary "Blackfish" sparked a huge outcry over the use of orcas, known as "killer whales", which have been performing at SeaWorld's theme parks for decades. The film details the tragic death of orca whale trainer Dawn Brancheau who was killed at the SeaWorld theme park in Orlando, Fla. after being pulled into the tank by a killer whale.

In response, Assemblyman Richard Bloom sponsored legislation today to end the practice of using orcas for performances at theme parks. The bill does not call out SeaWorld by name but the San Diego park is the only venue in the state that uses orcas for entertainment.

The bill seeks to permanently end the use of performing orcas in theme shows, ban captive breeding and prohibit the import and export of killer whales. It would also require that all current captive orcas be retired to sea pens, if available, and not used for performances.

Animal rights activists have been calling on SeaWorld to stop using orcas for performance because of concerns over the whale's well being and the safety of trainers.

In a statement, SeaWorld dismissed the legislation and said that it  already operates under multiple federal, state and local animal welfare laws. Is banning the ‘killer whale’ shows

Guests:

Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute. She worked with Assemblyman Richard Bloom on the California Captive Orca Safety and Welfare Act (AB 2140)

Mark A. Simmons, former senior trainer at SeaWorld Orlando who appeared in the film “Blackfish”, Vice President of Ocean Embassy


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