Trainers working with captive orcas at SeaWorld’s marine parks have begun wearing inflatable safety vests. The move is another safety measure implemented after the 2010 death of a trainer, Dawn Brancheau who was dragged into a pool by orca Tillikum. Her death prompted action by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and, in 2011 SeaWorld was ordered by a US court to provide physical barriers (or equivalent) or greater protection for trainers working with orcas or stop the trainers from working in close proximity to them altogether. Since that time, SeaWorld has been fined repeatedly for failing to meet these strict safety standards.
“In April 2014, the US courts once again ruled against SeaWorld and upheld OSHA’s position,” says WDC captivity campaigner, Rob Lott. “This was the fifth time that SeaWorld has lost against OSHA and the only legal remedy now available to them is through the US Supreme Court. Orcas are one of the most socially and ecologically complex species on the planet. They live in tight family groups which are capable of travelling 100km a day. Sadly, the one-dimensional caricature on display in SeaWorld’s parks pays a great disservice to these powerful, sentient, apex predators. Life in a concrete tank can never replicate the habitat these magnificent creatures need to thrive.”