Presentation: “Death at SeaWorld” author David Kirby on Saturday
This evening is an important event – Friday Harbor is on the booksigning tour that accompanies the release of the book Death at SeaWorld.” The event is at Friday Harbor House at 5pm – here is more information from the publisher about the book & author, as well as a review by Update book reviewer Rainah Sandstrom - see you there.
DEATH AT SEAWORLD, by David Kirby
Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity
From the New York Times bestselling author of Evidence of Harm and Animal Factory comes DEATH AT SEAWORLD (St. Martin’s Press; July 17, 2012; Hardcover) a groundbreaking scientific examination that exposes the dark side of SeaWorld, America’s most beloved marine mammal park.
From the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, to other, less-publicized violent incidents, journalist David Kirby puts these brutal animal-on-human attacks in context and explores the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity.
DEATH AT SEAWORLD introduces the real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. Kirby follows the story of Naomi Rose Ph.D., marine mammal scientist for The Humane Society of the United States and senior scientist for Humane Society International, whose warnings against keeping killer whales in captivity fell on deaf ears.
He also covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA vs. SeaWorld case. On May 30, 2012, the judge ruled on this case, stating that trainers performing with huge ocean predators need to be protected by physical barriers, or some other means providing the same level of safety. The strict standard could effectively prevent SeaWorld from ever allowing its trainers to get back into the water during shows with the whales.
Kirby also introduces the reader to various killer whales, also known as orcas, (who are actually the world’s largest dolphins) and how they rarely, if ever, harm humans in the wild and are among the smartest animals in the world.
He can discuss the following shocking points:
¨ There are no records at any time in history of wild orcas seriously attacking or killing a person, but in captivity, aggressive acts against trainers are not uncommon, sometimes ending in severe injury or death.
¨ Some 15% of all orcas ever held in SeaWorld’s collection have been involved in acts of serious aggression against trainers, a dismal safety record that would never be tolerated in other industries.
¨ Orcas at SeaWorld have lunged at trainers, pulled them in the water, held them at the bottom of the pool, head-butted them, slammed them with tail flukes and breached on top of them.
¨ The 12,000 pound Tilikum – the world’s largest captive predator – killed Canadian trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991, attacked Daniel Dukes, a man who snuck into the tank in 1999 but did not make it out, and brutally killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
¨ To date, SeaWorld has spent $65 million since Dawn Brancheau’s death on high-tech safety features such as quick-rising false bottoms for pools and emergency “spare air” oxygen systems for orca trainers at the Shamu Stadiums in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.
DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, an acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. His work has been featured on Anderson Cooper 360, O Magazine, NPR.org, and many other outlets. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and is available for interviews this summer.
You can learn more about DEATH AT SEAWORLD on