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The Sea World Tragedy, are Trainers Expendable While Shamu is Allowed to Live?

Updated on May 19, 2012
Dawn truly loved her profession and paid the highest price any trainer could pay.
Dawn truly loved her profession and paid the highest price any trainer could pay.

Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at Sea World was killed on Wednesday, February 25th by Shamu during a performance. Shamu took hold of Dawn’s pony tail and thrashed the trainer and then drowned her, by keeping an already badly injured Dawn under the water for forty minutes. Yes, Dawn is a trainer and in her line of work, things like this can happen. What I don’t understand, is how they could have allowed Tillikum, the whale to keep performing, after being involved in two other deaths. Tillikum was one of the three Orcas involved in the 1991 killing of a woman, who had lost her balance, and fell in the pool at the Sea Land Park of the Pacific near Victoria, British Columbia. If this wasn’t enough, this whale was also responsible for the death of another man in 1999, the man’s body was found draped over the whale, apparently the man had fallen in or was pulled in by Tillikum.

Here we are in 2010, and Tillikum has struck again. This time he has killed a trainer in front of many witnesses, who I’m sure will be traumatized for many years to come. This could have been prevented, if a little common sense would have been applied to the previous situations. Whether or not, Tillikum is a valuable part of the show and the star of Sea World, he should have been euthanized back in 1991, or at the very least after the 1999 incident. A young woman would still be alive today, if they had taken these preventive measures.

Shamu may be worth millions to Sea World, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a danger to humans.
Shamu may be worth millions to Sea World, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a danger to humans.

I am very much an advocate of animal rights and a believer in the humane treatment of animals. I am very appalled and sickened when I witness photos of animals being tortured in labs. It depresses me to see cows being placed in confining pens, where they cannot move and are treated like objects instead of living creatures. I personally think that Shamu’s home is out in the wild, swimming in the seven seas. Even though I have also experienced the magic of seeing Shamu perform, I still think that submitting an animal to an unnatural existence is cruel.

Given the present situation, and the fact that this animal has killed and he probably will kill again, if not euthanized. Something has to be done. I am appalled at some of the reports on this incident. It has been commented on the news, by others, who knew about this whale that this whale was dangerous. One trainer stated that Sea World wants to keep Tillikum alive for breading purposes. They don’t want to kill him, because he is worth millions of dollars. So I guess. trainers are expendable, but killer whales are not.

It is a common practice, that when a dog hurts a child, the shot gun is immediately used, and the dog is killed. This is even a scriptural principle, for it says in Genesis 5-6 “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.”

6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man,

by man shall his blood be shed;

for in the image of God

has God made man.”

This was the one of the first commandments given to Noah, when he left the ark and became a member of the new earth. We are not to allow an animal that has killed a human being to live. To allow that animal to live is disobedience to God. It doesn’t make a difference whether that animal is a mongrel dog or Shamu. That whale killed three human beings and he is still being allowed to live. Have we come to a place in history, where animals are more valuable than human beings?

If another human being had brutally murdered Dawn Brancheau and had drown her and there were others witnessing the crime, there would have been no question, as to the fate of the offender. The offender would automatically be put on death row and almost everyone would agree that this would be the fair and equitable way of handling the matter.

How is it that we pity an animal that kills a human and yet, we will execute a murderer? By the way, killing a murderer would be the right course of action. Biblically, if a human being or an animal kills a human being, their lives will be required of them. Dawn was killed by animal that had already killed before. Yet, because this particular animal is part of a money making attraction and is worth millions, he wasn’t euthanized.

I personally do not have anything against Sea World. This park is an amazing place. The work they do with animals, truly takes your breath away. I have seen all their attractions and Sea World owes a great debt to this talented body of trainers. I’m sure that if one of the dogs in the Pets Ahoy attraction became vicious and attacked one of the trainers, there would be no objection to killing that dog, because dogs from animal shelters are very easy to replace. Shamu is another story, and because of this whale’s rarity and cost, killing it will take some thought. All I know, is that a young woman was killed. How many more incidents like this will have to take place before something rational is done?


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    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you Mindy, I appreciate your kind words and support for my hub, I think becoming a Shamu trainer is a fantastic career, I had the time of my life when I went to Sea World a couple of years ago and I owe it to dedicated people like yourself. I just hope the the park puts your safety as a top priority, because even though Shamu is the star, the trainers and performers like Dawn are Sea World's most important asset and they must never forget that. I wish you all the success in the world and that you have tons of fun with your career.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      yes, i truly enjoyed this. your points were very valid and it's pitiful to think about our society and how prospering economically is raised above our own existance. I on the other hand, plan to become a shamu trainer myself, i've read the articles about the risks and seen every objective video about the threats of this career, and i've never felt so sure about my choice to pursue this. it sounds crazy and unsure but i know that i want to be like dawn and follow in her footsteps, and i've got it all planned out.

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you animalsrightfirs, I agree Shamu should be left in his natural home and that is in the seas. I do not think it is correct for animals to be treated like commodities and setting him loose in the seas would be a fair solution, at least it is better than having him perform again which is what they are doing.

      However, the damage has been done and regardless of the fault a human was killed by this animal and Biblically he should be put down. I do agree that this whale lived under unnatural circumstance which probably contributed to his erratic behavior, and therefore setting him free may be another way to solve this mess.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i think that that whale needs to be set free its thm people own faulkt for keeping a whale in captivity for th use of entertainment i do not feel sorry for them at all why should th whale die when it was not his fault he was hauled here i would kill people tryin to keep me from my home and family human are not a better substute and th poor whale is prob stressed out of his mind scream yelling people stamping cameras and dead food is not any where near to what it would be like in his home as a nation of people we r selfish and horrible and think only of our own rights what about this whales set him free set them all free!! animals r not performers!!

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you prasetio30, Yes this is sad, and it could have been avoided if they had made the trainer's safety their number one priority.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This is sad story. I had read in my local newspaper. It should not happen to Dawn Brancheau. Because I rad that there are several case the same with this case, when the trainer was died by the animal like whale. And the company have to learn with the purpose this incident does not happen again. So they not only get the profit from the visitor, but the safety of the employee is still number one. thank you for writing about this topic.

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thanks for the comment. I'm believe in being as humane as possible in how I relate to animals. I personally think Shamu's home should have been out in the oceans, to begin with. Now that he lives in captivity and has become a potential threat, there are not any other alternatives, but to euthanize him. It's not vengence but justice and safety that I seek.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      8 years ago from UK

      Though I am against killing in vengence, the fact that this animal has been involved in three previous atttacks on humans makes it a potential danger, even if it is released in teh wild. The possibility of a child being killed by this animal is just not worth the risk...

    • Internetwriter62 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you GodPreacher. I think it's sad and as a society, we have really gotten far from doing what is the right thing. God Bless you.

    • godpreacher profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta,Ga.


      I feel your heart on this one. But we must remember, we live in a society where many household pets are valued high above a human life. How much more valuable is Shamu to the park and it's desire to proser, than an average household pet, or even a human life?

      I pray for the comfort, strength, and healing of the family.

      God Bless


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