Kill Willy?


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On Friday, February 26, The San Diego Times announced:

“SeaWorld San Diego will resume its killer whale-based Believe show Saturday, just three days after a fatal incident at a sister park in Orlando Florida.”

The “fatal incident,” was the brutal killing of 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau by the largest killer whale in captivity, Tilikum, who already drowned one trainer in 1991. The incident on Sunday confirms that killer whales, particularly this one, are…killers.

Orlando Sea World is hinting:

“Killer whale shows at the theme park where a trainer was this week savaged to death are to resume from today. Bosses at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, have also vowed the whale involved in the tragedy will retain a key role its controversial Shamu Believe show.”

If Tilikum was a dog, he would be subject to Florida laws:

31602: “Vicious dog” means any of the following:
(b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being.
(c) Any dog previously determined to be and currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, continues the behavior described in Section 31602 or is maintained in violation of section 31641, 31642, or 31643.

The law normally requires that a “vicious” domestic animal involved in another incident resulting in “severe injury or death,” be sent to the happy hunting grounds.

Tilikum is vicious, but not a dog. Thanks to his status as the most valuable performer in captivity, the only hunting ground he is going to see any time soon is his tank at Sea World where PETA and the deep pockets at the park’s headquarters will give him a chance to hunt down and probably kill his third victim.

Another reason Sea World isn’t about to euthanize their main attraction, is because adrenalin-junkie visitors willing to climb the tank towers and lean over the water, are not the only ones Tilikum is kissing:

“Breeding is the best way to build a collection of killer whales to draw in visitors at up to $78.95 apiece to sit in the splash zone. ‘No one is better at breeding killer whales than SeaWorld. Of the 20 calves born at SeaWorld parks, Tilikum has fathered 13.’ SeaWorld has only one other breeding male at the moment.”

Tragically, responsibility for the trainer’s death was primarily her own. After all, jumping in the water with killer whales, even the cute little ones, comes with obvious risks. Spectators don’t line up for a show featuring, “Guaranteed Benign Whales.” Being “killers” is part of their marketable charm and the trainers are the first to insist, “Even though they live with us, they are still wild.”

Killing a Killer Whale for killing is simply not logical. The rarity of death-by-killer-whale at Sea World Parks indicates the necessity for distinction between animals posing a general, instinctive threat, and those having demonstrated a propensity to live up to their name at the expense of the staff. Beyond the politics evoked by any whale, the Sacred Cow of the anti-human, Environmentalist Faith, Tilikum’s future can be addressed by simple common sense.

Two human beings have been killed by this whale, in the absence of what appears to be provocation. Somewhere in the midst of churning options including “Kill Willy,” “That animal jailer deserved to die!” and “One human life isn’t worth giving up the 2 Billion a year we make from this whale,” is the kind and logical solution. It’s time for Tilikum to retire. If he is too old to be safely released into the wild like the real star of “Free Willy,” surely PETA will raise funds for a tank where he will be happy siring offspring, and no more precious human life will be sacrificed to the entertainment business.

Of course, there is always Dave Letterman’s option: