Thursday, February 25, 2010

That Day Has Arrived...

So, I went over to MSNBC to see if I could catch up on the HCR summit being televised today, but I was diverted by the group of stories I saw over next to the picture of Obama...

"Woman's Mauling By Chimp Haunts Police Officer" Hell, it haunted me for a bit...
"Video: Orca shook trainer violently witnesses say" $50 someone uses the words "rag doll."
"Orcas have history of killing humans" I know. I saw the movie. He sure killed the hell out of Richard Harris...
"Shark-filled aquarium springs leak" All part of the plan...

The best part of the whole thing is at the end of the video in the third link, the reporter informs Matt Lauer that video footage from Sea World cameras or a tourist "could be critical for investigators to determine what went wrong here and insure it never happens again."

Let me guess what that video will show: Tilikum, the killer whale, grabbing his trainer dragging her underwater and swimming around with her until she drowned. The only determination of "why it happened" will come from a Spock mind-meld with the whale. And as far as making sure "it never happens again?" Exactly how? Aside from not creating entertainment based on intimate interaction with 15,000 pound apex predators in an environment that starts out potentially fatal to humans, what exactly will this investigation propose?

Maybe the investigators can get together and enjoy a showing of "Grizzly Man" while they await footage from Sea World.

Mrs F thought I was perhaps a bit too cynical with this post...Yeah. I guess so. I do feel that it sucks that the trainer was killed. In all likelihood she was a marine biologist-type who had dedicated her life to the study of the animal that took her life. That's awful.

My issue is with the situation that created the event and the absolutely preposterous coverage of this event as if it was some cross between a premeditated homicide and a preventable job hazard.

That whale was doing what it was evolved and born to do—grab prey and drag it to it's death.

There is no question that marine mammals are anthropomorphised more than any other wild animal due to their intelligence. Would anyone do this show with a great white shark? Or a crocodile? Or even a lion with a history of killing trainers? Of course not. "But these animals are so intelligent!" Yes. But the fact remains that they are wild animals—and in this case, not just a carnivore, but one at the absolute top of the food chain. In fact, is there a predator on earth with a higher spot than an orca?

This is a whale that already killed a trainer, and was sold by it's original owner (captor) in British Columbia to Sea World with the understanding that it would NOT be a performing animal. That's a fucking problem. I'm sure these new trainers honestly believed they could train and control him, so eventually he found his way into the arena.

This event isn't a tragedy. It's a matter of time. It's a matter of luck running out.

These are wild animals used to patrolling a range that probably covers hundreds of square mile stuck in a pool. It's an intensely social animal that lives it's whole life in a pod. Instead he is forced to interact with another species that has him do unnatural things. He wasn't a rescued animal or bred, he was captured in the ocean and placed in captivity. Tilikum survived in captivity for at least eight years (that's time between the killings), and that's DOUBLE the average captive lifespan of four years. In the wild, they live over 35 years.

He was in that show because humans, in their infinite arrogance, thought they could master him. And in a display of man's infinite greed, Sea World knew they could make a bundle off him.

So, yeah, it really sucks about that trainer. But if he's as intelligent as given credit for, it sucks more for the whale.


Deb said...

Perhaps it's a Republican conspiracy. That tank leak is mighty suspicious.

Bob said...

What went wrong? What part of "killer" and "whale" confuses people?

If I were stuck in such a closed environment that one of my appendages starts to curl (dorsal fin), I would start killing my captors too. This particular whale was smart enough to start killing his “trainers” years ago, yet people are shocked it happened a third time?

I can’t help but root for the animals in many of these situations. It seems to me often people bring it on themselves. A little common sense tells me that a huge WILD animal will be pissed to live in an unnatural environment and made to do unnatural things.

Bob said...

Your update solidifies my points.

steves said...

I was surprised to find this whale had done this before and people thought it would be ok to keep trying. Shouldn't the experts know better? I expect this kind of stuff to happen to morons like the "Grizzly man" and tourists I have seen trying to feed black bears.

The reality is that even domesticated animals can be dangerous and unpredictable, so wild animals should be treated with even more respect and caution.