March 1, 2010

LKL Monday!

Posted: 07:00 PM ET

Funeral services were held today for the SeaWorld trainer killed by a killer whale. Animal expert Jack Hanna and the former head trainer at SeaWorld Orlando weigh in on the controversy over how she died.

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The attack also raises questions on animals in captivity. Animal rights activists Daryl Hannah and Tippi Hedren join the debate. Plus, the man who trained ALL of the dolphins on the TV show ‘Flipper’! Why he now fights for their freedom!

And, Chile has deployed 10,000 troops to battle looters and restore order in the earthquake-ravaged country. Larry has the latest!

Also, Olympians! Figure skater Johnny Weir and skiing silver medalist Julia Mancuso!

Do YOU think whales should be held in captivity?

Filed under: Larry King Live • Olympics

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A. Smith, Oregon   March 1st, 2010 7:05 pm ET

The US Senate should craft a bill that would make it illegal to keep any Orcha Whale in captivity over 1/2 of its expected lifespan before releasing that Orcha Whale back into the Ocean.

I can think of no greater memorial to the brave and dedicated Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau who tragically lost her life showing the world how beautiful and graceful these huge sentient creatures are.

Oregonians rescued Willie-Kiko a female Orcha Whale from a Mexican resort tank and after medical rehab successfully released Willie-Kiko back to the Ocean where she lived free for her last 10 years and died as a free Orcha Whale with her pod mates

Jim Carroll   March 1st, 2010 7:17 pm ET



Maria Copelli   March 1st, 2010 7:33 pm ET

Whales belong in there natural habitat ,FREE,they are trying to tell us where they belong,do we understand?The same as any wild animals,wolves ,elephants tigers leopards,jaguars,monkeys ,giraffes,sea lions,...........pleaee lets listen to these magnificent creatures! thank you,Maria C.

Judie   March 1st, 2010 7:49 pm ET

Let them go,Let them go, Let them go,Let them go, Let them go,Let them go, Let them go,Let them go, Let them go,Let them go, Let them go,Let them go.
How many times do you ask that stupid question?

j   March 1st, 2010 8:10 pm ET

please do not ask jack hanna this question...but someone more intelligent.....i know you like short questions so here it is.....why can't tilikum be with corky?...thats him from stupid stupid sea world...and edit last

Sea World has stated that they plan to keep Tilikum at their facility and continue to use him as a breeding animal, and perhaps down the road, in performances again. Instead, WDCS believes Tilikum should be offered the chance of a better life in his native waters, hopefully one day returned to the wild. Although returning home is an uncertain and lengthy process, we owe him a chance. Tilikum may be physically and psychologically damaged by all his years in captivity but if he cannot demonstrate the ability to fend for himself in the wild, he could be retired to his native waters where he doesn't have to perform for the public and where he can live out the remainder of his life in a more natural environment, perhaps even joined by other orcas that were captured from the wild, like Corky.

Corky is another orca that has been held at another Sea World park, confined for 40 years after being captured from her native waters in Canada. WDCS and Orcalab are calling for her to return home.

Cajazz76:24:8   March 1st, 2010 8:45 pm ET


Yes indeed Larry King, keep them whales in captivity, right next to the human animal petting zoo. It would be the Surf 'n' Turf Exposition.

IKHAN   March 1st, 2010 9:03 pm ET

Let go the whales guys? Why keep them in captivity.

Larry, couldn't make any sense of what @Prof Dave W Dawson was all about.

@Jim Carrol, Repubs are totally focused on making sure that Obama admn does not succeed , they are simply consumed almost to the point of lunacy, by this desire and are grabbing at drift wood like the Tea Party,Sarah Palin etc.
Who suffers- the American people. Who cares? No body

mary u from ohio   March 1st, 2010 9:30 pm ET

Join Animal Activist to help free the Whales

mary u from ohio   March 1st, 2010 9:34 pm ET

Animal Activist help to free animals...
They can teach that whale to survive the ocean......
Sea World needs to Close...
Sea World is only keeping these Mammals for their own pleasure...

A. Smith, Oregon   March 1st, 2010 9:34 pm ET

Dr. Gary, would you stop destroying the formatting within a blog by not entering several hundred single characters in a single line, please?

Your point is made, why trash the formatting which makes it nearly impossible to read your remarks as well as those previously made?

Taher Rasheed   March 1st, 2010 9:39 pm ET

It is human nature to enjoy thrills. The type of thrill presented with a
captive Ocra is not only an animal cuelty but animal become so afraid of their natural habitat because they never expewrience the real
world situations for survival.

This fear does not justify to continue keeping the animals in captivity.

They must be set free. No one can put a price on human life. It is very precious.

Look what happened just before the Winter Olympics. Winter Olympics put the competitors on the edge. It is not worth a gold
medal. Plus Vancour will require many years to recover 9 Bilion Dollars it lost to stage the Olypics in its city.

Linda   March 1st, 2010 9:46 pm ET

Regarding Health care and everything else our president is trying to do. He is a very hands on president. Only since president bill Clinton have we had a president so involved. We see him practically everyday. Isn't that a nice change from seeing a president only during press conferences. The American people have to listen and listen good. We need health care reform......

Todd   March 1st, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Folks...there is some very innaccurate information being circulated. While everyone has the right to their own opinion, at least base it on facts; and not anti-captivity disinformation.
There has NEVER been a successful release of a killer whale that has spent a significant time in the care of man. For those of you referencing Keiko; he died a horrible (and preventable) death due to this ill-conceived experiment. By standards accepted by any reputable wildlife expert; the release of Keiko would in no way be considered a success.
Tillicom, as all the whales at SeaWorld will continue to be cared for with the highest of animal care standards. Attempting to release him to the wild would be a death sentence, and nothing short of animal cruelty.

A. Smith, Oregon   March 1st, 2010 10:03 pm ET

When the store owners in Oakland, California attempted to arm themselves to stop looters from cleaning out their destroyed stores, ARMED POLICE forced the store owners to lay down their arms, guns, pistols so the looters could clean out their shops and stores!!

Only in America, the land that birthed Bush-Cheney would that happen!

Pat Sides   March 1st, 2010 10:15 pm ET

I don't understand how anyone could think an animal that big and intelligent and social would want to "live" in a tank, DUH! If he was turned loose and only lived a week it would be better than the THIRTY years spent in a cement tank. This is all about money – just like the race horses and elephants in circus's, forthunately for "corporate Jack" and his sponsors the public is sadly misinformed or they just have no empathy for animals so continue to attend these horrific displays of inhumanity to animals. The zoo's aren't much better – WHO would want to live in a 4 x 4 cement enclosure? How would Jack like to live in a cell for no reason other than to be "studied"?

Tara   March 1st, 2010 10:23 pm ET

I just wanted to reply to Mr. Hannah's use of me as one of his 100-something million people who go to zoos and aquariums to be educated. I enjoy seeing small animals in habitats that closely approximate their natural habitat, as well as wild animals that were injured and are unable to live in the wild. I do NOT enjoy seeing large, healthy animals trapped in small [for them] cages or tanks. Back before there were large-screen color TVs and DVDs and IMAX you could argue for the need to have all kinds of animals in zoos for educational purposes. But now...I would much rather see an IMAX movie about ocean life than go watch a couple of mammoth orcas do doggie tricks in a large swimming pool. Watch the youtube video of a pod of orcas training their young to charge a seal on an ice flow to cause a wave to flip their prey off the safety of the ice. The show at SeaWorld pales by comparison.

Patricia Carlson   March 1st, 2010 10:23 pm ET

I don't believe... By the way Mr Jack Hanna , very nice crocodile skin hat!!!

The Orcas need to be free!!! An I never saw a orca in my whole life, but i can tell you that I know much more about orca watch educational programs on tv, with the animals in their own enviroment!!!

sandra   March 1st, 2010 10:23 pm ET

I can't believe Larry is enterviewing these trainers who only care about fullfilling a "dream", they do not care about the welfare of the animals. No matter how good the care of these wild animals is, and no matter how much the trainers love the animals; they will never be able to duplicate the freedom and family life they lead in the wild. Animals like killer whales are smart, they share many of the feelings considered human and they form relationships within their family, humans can never duplicate this. All these parks care about is how much money they make from the shows and they will never stop their main attraction with the killer whales. It is also irresponsible of Sea World to expose people to training these animals, they should be held accountable for the death of this trainer, no matter how many rules they have to protect the trainers, these animals are WILD and will always be WILD, these "accidents" will happen again in the name of entertainment and greed.

matt   March 1st, 2010 10:24 pm ET

really bad show larry, really bad show. You can't get an intelligent conversation out of people if you only let them make talking points for 10-15 seconds at a time. Take away the two with glowing lights behind them and let the two people not swayed by money speak on the subject.

joanne ontario canada   March 1st, 2010 10:25 pm ET

Larry, just watched the documentary " THE COVE". I for one will never ever pay to watch a dolphin or whale show ever again. Jack Hannah should be ashamed of himself supporting the likes of SEA WORLD!!

larry   March 1st, 2010 10:26 pm ET

how many people must die before we learn that wild animals are just that... we can't fault the animail for doing what they instincts tell them to do.. I guess when the death toll rises we may learn otherwise the medical exaimner needs to always be prepared for these senseless acts...

Mark, KY   March 1st, 2010 10:27 pm ET

It is no wonder that Sea World makes as much money as Jane said. The cost to go to Sea World is $78 for one person. If you take a family of four it would cost $312. How many fish would that feed? I think it is about the money, and that is a shame.

Nancy Lewis   March 1st, 2010 10:27 pm ET

Has anyone considered that Tilicum may have been exhibiting prescient behavior which we know non-human animals are capable of? Telling us by shaking Dawn violently, an earthquake is imminent? By exhibiting her drowned body to onlookers, a tsunami will follow? Perhaps the killer tsunami was thwarted by all the whales in the seas banding together to form a barrier around the Hawaiian islands and then to protect Japan. Listen up world.

Bob Haynes   March 1st, 2010 10:28 pm ET

Mr. King,

I am not an animal rights activist, but do believe in animal rights. I have toured several zoos and animal parks around the US. I have learned details like where an animal is native, weight and other minor details. I do believe it was more entertaining than educational. I would have much preferred to go to an IMAX and know these animals were left alone to live in the wild where they were intended to live.
Bob Haynes

Diane   March 1st, 2010 10:28 pm ET


Whales and all wild animals should never be kept in captivity. You don't have to be an activist to see that it is abusive... What Mr. Hannah describes as education is entertainment. Just look at Animals in the Circus industry... They are suffering horribly, all of this is only going on because it generates profits.

It is sad to see that someone has to die in these circumstances to have the world realize this is abusive.


Jonie   March 1st, 2010 10:28 pm ET

Maybe Larry would get intelligent converstaion if Jane would be having a breakdown on TV. Can she not speak calmly without yelling her head off. Who in their right mind would watch her show?

When people scream you can never hear all points.

Katy   March 1st, 2010 10:29 pm ET

Hooray Jane Velez Mitchell! - Very intelligent commments about the whales. I don't like situations in which animals are not allowed to live in a natural environment. Treating them like they're in a circus stinks.
Go Jane. Go Rick. And I can't stand Jack Hannah, either. He is just about making money by exploiting animals.

B. Lyons, Ski Coach, Winter Park, CO   March 1st, 2010 10:29 pm ET

For Julia Mancuso: Have you ever been yellow flagged in a FIS or World Cup race? In your opinion, was Lindsey far enough outside the race line on the course where you feel that your run could have continued without incident had you not been yellow flagged?

Pat Sides   March 1st, 2010 10:29 pm ET

I forgot to add to my previous comment: I don't understand what Jack Hanna is doing pretending to careabout animals. I used to think he was great bringing all those animals on Letterman & King, etc. BUT than he started defending corporate animal abuse – he and "Bo" both defended the deaths of race horses – one of the most abusive "sports" in the world but it was ok w/ them to whip and race these animals til they drop, than the response to Letterman question RE: the killling of Wolves from helicoptors – that was Ok also, now the whales – ok also. Is there anything that isn't ok w/ corporate Jack. I change the channel now when I know he will be on so I don't become more stressed.

mike   March 1st, 2010 10:30 pm ET

i can't believe what jack hanna is saying. i thought he believes in protecting animals, but in fact he is protecting his wallet. i've been to sea world and i will never go back because it isn't about research it's about entertaintment. how does riding on the nose of a killer whale equal research. it's big profit and those who defend it are the ones who will lose out on that profit. jack and the other guy should sit together in a tub and do tricks so we can " do research" them for a few years. just can't believe my ears.

sandra   March 1st, 2010 10:31 pm ET

Shut that trainer up, what's his name?... "I've trained more dolphins than anyone else in the world"... How ignorant... Larry.... please stop asking that guy questions....

Jonie   March 1st, 2010 10:31 pm ET

Nancy Lewis,

Now that is an interesting theory.

Bill W.   March 1st, 2010 10:31 pm ET

I thank Sea World for allowing us to see these whales up close. In the wild you cannot get close to these them so it is great that we can be closer and learn how they live. Besides Sea World is always nursing injured sea animals brought to them back to health which is a great thing.

Joseph   March 1st, 2010 10:32 pm ET

I don't care how large the tank is; it will never resemble the freedom provided by the ocean. I don't care how nice the trainers are,;they will never replace the nurturing love and care provided by their families. I don't care about the useless facts taught at Seaquarium; people can learn much more by simply using the internet. Call it what it is: SHAMELESS ANIMAL ABUSE!

matt   March 1st, 2010 10:32 pm ET

Wasn't Bil Maher criticizing CNN for indulging in 'celebrity news' is a rerun just last night? And today you only give less than half your show to the animal experts so you can get to Daryl Hannah and MARNIE!?

Donald   March 1st, 2010 10:32 pm ET

What do these people mean by train the whales? Train then for what?Since when do they need training.

anne   March 1st, 2010 10:33 pm ET

Sea World and Jack Hanna and everyone involved with wild animals and educating the public are to be applauded. Unfortunately we do not have any empathy until we get to get to see these animals either in person or thru the eyes of people like Jack Hanna. How many animals are dissappearing from this earth every year because no one knows about them or cares about them. And for every tragedy like this trainer, how many animals live better, longer and happier lives than they would in the wild. How many breeds will survive in the wild? How many children and adults know about these wild animals? I saw Jack Hanna recently and learned sooo much. He is to be applauded and everyone at Sea World and every good zoo also applauded.

Jonie   March 1st, 2010 10:35 pm ET

Here we go again, killing the wolves from a helicopter. If certain animals are not taken down, then they will collide with the human population. Do you want a wolf in your backyard, a coyote, how about a hufe black bear. It's not verry funny when you are in a city and such animals arrive.

sandra   March 1st, 2010 10:35 pm ET

THAD.... doesn't make sence.... money money money

Jonie   March 1st, 2010 10:37 pm ET

Sorry, Larry time to turn the channel.

Jeanne Stinger   March 1st, 2010 10:39 pm ET

I am an animal lover and not particularly keen on animals being kept in restrictive habitats. I am however extremely appalled with the activist groups exploiting the situation of the death of Dawn at SeaWorld to advance their personal agendas. Knowing how SHE felt about the Killer Whales it is obvious that these groups have absolutely no respect for her or her family to create such controversy while they are grieving. The Animal Rights Activists are no better than the Organizations they accuse of Animal Exploitation. In this case, it is exploitation of the death of a human being. Shame on them!!

merrell   March 1st, 2010 10:39 pm ET

whoever the guy is who is defending keeping these animals in captivity, he is rude, condescending and understandably defensive. there is no justification for keeping whales in aquariums. none what so ever. He is showing himself to be a pompous selfish ass not an educated scientist.

dominic   March 1st, 2010 10:40 pm ET

I can't agree with Jack Hanna. There is no valid reason to keep whales in captivity. If we were protecting them from extinction maybe then we can justify it but not to train them to do tricks to entertain people.

robert young   March 1st, 2010 10:42 pm ET

These Sea World spokesmen want us to believe that killer whales are better off to be in captivity? I a tiny pool for a lifetime of doing tricks for the paying public? It's all about the money....million of people visit these parks, the profits are immense, it's about entertainment and the whales are abused and held in captivity for their lifetimes. It is so sick. Sea World needs to take responsibility for this trainer's death. Watch "The Cove" movie to learn what really goes on behind the scenes. Cheer for "the Cove" to win an Oscar for best documentary next week so that more people will learn about what's really going on.

A.L.   March 1st, 2010 10:43 pm ET

I believe the issue with the marine mammal entertainment shows comes down to this – it is not for science, learning or entertainment. It is for the amusement of people who want to be around these wild animals as a hobby or an obsession. They interact with the animals in the guise of trainers or teachers. But these animals are being kept captive for the amusement of people who want to work with them. There is no benefit to the animals or to the general public. Science now has the ability to study animals in the wild and we can see them in documentaries.

DDiane   March 1st, 2010 10:44 pm ET

People exploiting animals in every possible way makes me sick!
The dirt is coming out about previous deaths and hush hush monies to those injured. It is quite normal for an animal to retaliate when confined to a small space. Absolute creulty, by all means. Close down zoos, SeaWorld, circuses, puppy mills, etc.,etc. For educational purposes take a trip to Africa or watch the Discovery Channel.

jo gentry   March 1st, 2010 10:44 pm ET

If seaworld wants to educate children about whales, fund an imax movie showing whales in the wild.

They teach children that is it okay to capture animals and have them perform tricks that they would never do in the wold

molly   March 1st, 2010 10:45 pm ET

I do not know if Tilicum should be released at this point. However, if he could speak for himself this might be what he would say:

"If I have to live this life of captivity there are four things that could improve my life a little. 1. I want live fish to eat – not dead ones. 2. I do not want to be made to do silly tricks. 3. I would like a larger place to live. 4. I would like to have some companionship with other Orcas.

Emily   March 1st, 2010 10:45 pm ET

Thad Lackinak made a comment that the animals are content because they are receiving an adequate habitat. I live in Tehachapi and hate it, I have a roof over my head and food on my table, a job at the local police dept. I'm not enjoying live here in this rural county.

Janet   March 1st, 2010 10:46 pm ET

These people that want these animals returned to the wild are crazy . They would only suffer and die in the wild. Animals raised with people and by people want to be with people. They do not know how to hunt. I am a animal lover. I used to be a member of the Humane Society but I am no longer because they have gone way to far.

john b.   March 1st, 2010 10:47 pm ET

goodness, that was a massacre. that old whale trainer is the only one who made any sense!

RickFromDetroit   March 1st, 2010 10:47 pm ET

Animals kept in captivity are better cared for than the ones in the wild. They receive food and grooming and become friendly and loose much of their aggressiveness. This can be found to be true with dogs, cats, birds, and any other animal. When animals are in the wild they must fight to survive. When in captivity they become passive. The same holds true for humans.

sandra   March 1st, 2010 10:47 pm ET

Larry seems to be on Sea World's side... very sad and dissapointing, there is 0 education going on the Shamu show....

Diana Croyle   March 1st, 2010 10:47 pm ET


The Sea World representative on tonight's show was incorrect. Keiko lived for 5 years (not 1 year) after being released in Iceland.

gerry   March 1st, 2010 10:48 pm ET

I am currently watching larry king and the panel on the killer whales. The one gentleman seems very arrogant to me and I wonder how he would feel being born free and if we were to put him in a jail cell just so we could say we are learning things. This is absolute nonsense we would learn that he would not like being in a confined space, being told what to do and how to act. The same goes for the killer whales we do not learn anything from them. They put on a great show and that is it. It is about the money that sea world makes and nothing else. Let these animals live where they are supposed to FREE!!

Jonathan Larson   March 1st, 2010 10:48 pm ET

Everyone likes to see wild life everyone does. If you say you dont your a lier or you just hate animals, we want to see these animals for people who cant see them at all because we dont live near the Oceans so we go to the zoo or sea world to see these creatures that God has created some wild sea creatures Have come to us for help and these activists have tryed to keep them away from us look at Luna i think her name was she wanted to interact with mankind if we would have helped her out and put her in sea world so she can see people and people can see her. I think all activists should be arrested and put in jail for there stupidity trying to say they know what the animals are thinking, thinking that they are beatin to do tricks we do the same thing with Dogs and cats we give them treats to do tricks and also feed them regularly. I wish activists would just get a life and a real job and stay out of the way unless there are people killing them off with guns or what ever for sport that is not right if activist want to do anything find people killing for sport.

robert young   March 1st, 2010 10:48 pm ET

maybe that was to much emotion and information....just watch the movie "The Cove" free on YouTube.

Dorothy Hingley   March 1st, 2010 10:49 pm ET

Hi Larry, from Vancouver, British Columbia Canada – leave these animals/mammals to live in their own environment – much can be taught/observed through television programs like National Geographic – and a Tippi Hendren indicated that children love the Dinosaurs and read and learn from them – that is all I have to say.

Todd   March 1st, 2010 10:49 pm ET

Animals that live in quality (and I stress quality) zoological environments live very happy and healthy lives. SeaWorld has pioneered the care and training of marine mammals to offer all the mental and physical stimulation required. They have the most sucessful breeding and research programs in the world. Those trainers care more about animals than anyone. They have dedicated thier lives to it. Quality zoologica institutions play a vital role in protecting and caring for both wild and captive animals. Zoos have been responsible for saving 19 species from extinction. If not for the expertise to care for animals in zoos and aquariums, those species would be gone from the face of the earth.

Louise Pecevich   March 1st, 2010 10:50 pm ET

Killer whales should not be removed from the wild, and made to perform for humans, living out their lives in confinement, in concrete pools. Unfortunately though, those who are currently in captivity now lack the skills to survive if released into the wild, like the unfortunate Keiko. Venues like SeaWorld have one, and only one reason, to retain these animals – money – never mind research and learning about the whales. SeaWorld sells tickets, and animal welfare is not the priority. Let whales who are currently held by these types of marine attractions live out their lives under the care of their trainers, as there is no alternative. However, let us stop capturing whales to serve as entertainment – let them live in their natural habitat.

Howard   March 1st, 2010 10:50 pm ET

The spokespersons for Sea World are their own worst enemies. When you're on the defensive, attack! Tell Tippi Hedren she has no credentials because she happens to be an actor. Really lame.

gonzalo pedroso   March 1st, 2010 10:51 pm ET

stoppeople fromflying planes crash so no more pilots tks

Ram   March 1st, 2010 10:51 pm ET

Obviously Jack Hanna and the former head trainer are representing their corporation. How about locking up these 2 so called experts in a cell for 10 years and monitor their behavior modification. Sound interesting??

sandra wilz   March 1st, 2010 10:51 pm ET

There was another death of a veteran employee named John slack in Dec 2009. It must have been covered up because the info on this google search has been deleted. Sea World is not telling the truth to the public, by covering up this accident.

Michelle   March 1st, 2010 10:52 pm ET

The allegations made by Rick on LKL need to be investigated as i recall that Seaworld's first statement was that Dawn died due to her slipping and falling into the tank with the killer whale, tilikum. I dont know what would have happenned if there were not eye witnesses who saw the killer whale when it snapped and pulled Dawn into the tank by her ponytail.

Jeff Findley   March 1st, 2010 10:52 pm ET

Larry, This problem with the Killer Whales is simple to explain. It is a matter of man's ignorance in thinking that he has dominion over the earth and all of it's land and creatures. Within that ignorance is people like these so-called experts that claim they "know" that these orcas are content in captivity. That is complete arrogance for such a school of thought to even exsist. Look around at what is going on with this planet and the creatures that live here and then tell me we are doing the "right" thing. If you have any honesty in you at all then the answer is "no".

JT Findley

Joseph Pockets   March 1st, 2010 10:54 pm ET

It's a business for Sea World. Do you really believe they care for these animals and trainers? Sea World feels they both can be replaced!
Oh, don't think Jack Hanna is any better. He loves his 8-10 million dollar home in Jupiter, FL. Do you think he is going to be against "fencing" in these poor animals?
Hanna should go into politics.

Ann   March 1st, 2010 10:56 pm ET

I liked the comment about you can't apply human emotions to animals.
This is a theme that is repeated over and over again in The Dog Whisperer tv show. I guess we should stop keeping fish in fish tanks, they must be miserable in there because they might become manic depressive.
Tippi's comment aout dolphins swimming hundreds of miles a day getting all the fish they want to eat by the school full is a poor argument. If I were swimming hundreds of miles per day, sure I'd eat a lot more! Look at the diets of our athletes compared to that of the average American/

sandra   March 1st, 2010 10:57 pm ET

Todd, what about the silly tricks?. What about the fact that these animals are much much larger than any other Sea World or any zoo has?... some zoo's have done some good, there are always exceptions to every rule... but the tricks and food for tricks method... that is what is not right. these animals are too large to be kept in any zoo.

Donald   March 1st, 2010 10:57 pm ET

Jack Hanna is nothing more than a corporate shill for Sea World and has lost my respect. Hanna is a profiteer just like the executives that own and operate Sea World. If these people love the whales so much then why are they profiting off of them? If they really cared they would set it up as a non-profit instead.

Valerie   March 1st, 2010 10:58 pm ET

Keeping animals in captivity from zoos to the parks like Sea World have changed drastically since the 1960s. They have become more aware of the animals' needs including keeping them mentally stimulated. Of course animals should be left to the wild and it is just criminal keeping wild animals as pets. However, the zoos and marine parks do provide a valuable and needed resource for research and breeding of many endangered animals who are very tragically losing their habitat all over the world. The animal rights activists who were on the show did not represent themselves well at all. Their assertions were based strictly on emotion and very little fact.

Todd   March 1st, 2010 10:59 pm ET

By the way...did anyone realize that Ric O'Barry was convicted of violating the US Marine Mammal Protection act and responsible for the death of two dolphins? How can he even be considered qualified to speak on this?

Jean   March 1st, 2010 10:59 pm ET


I am not please that this man of Sea World insulted the lady on your panel. He should be respectful to your panel. He should also apologize to her. Does he not know better that this is not the first time a killer whale attacked and killed? Obviously, it is a money-making scheme and revenue for Sea World.
As wonderful as it is to observe the tactics of this killer whale, it should not be kept in captivity. It is called "killer whale" therefore be prepared that sooner or later, it will attack whether it is its trainer or observers.
It is similar to dangerous animals. They should never be kept in capitivity. These dangerous ones should be outlawed in being used to give spectators a thrill, as they are charged to view them including those who are kept as domestic animals.
It is beyond my comprehension that the governments allow such a fish and animals to be held in captivity. I urge the government to wake up and outlaw all of them, whales, lions, etc. They are quite capable of killing their owners as well which have occurred. This could occur unexpectedly.
Whales are dangerous and they should be kept in the sea where they were meant to be in the first place and not in a pond. Dangerous animals or mammals should be left in the wilds where they belong. The government should outlaw them once and for all.
Sadly this lady lost her life. I offer my condolence to her family.

tobaccobrown   March 1st, 2010 11:00 pm ET

please tell johnny weir he is the BEST !

M   March 1st, 2010 11:00 pm ET

Its unfortunate that Thad Lacinek and Jack Hanna cannot debate a subject without resorting to personal attacks on other guests. To dismiss Jane Velez as only a newscaster and Tippi Hedren as an actress when they have spent years involved in animal rights etc is insulting and it is also an insult to patronize them by saying they are led only by emotion about the injustice these creatures face..thank God THEY do have emotions unlike Jack Hanna and Thad Lacinek. Jack Hanna made a fool of himself by mocking the way another guest tried to speak..really classy your age I would assume you would know better. It was interesting how mute Lacinek became when confronted by the fact that a trainer at SeaWorld was killed in December and it was covered up. Hanna sputtered about it and admitted he was aware of it. Why is a death and other injuries being covered up? Because of money. These people could care less about the whales as long as they profit from them. These people make me sick and I applaud people like Jane and Tippi who are speaking out and showing the reality of this nasty business. Thad Lacinek might want to learn the meaning of respecting other people's opinions without trying to demean them..the other guest on the show has alot more experience than Lacinek does and Lacinek's arrogance is as ugly as the captivity these amazing creatures face on a daily basis

Ram   March 1st, 2010 11:01 pm ET

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion is true but how stupid is that opinion that condones Sea World for putting on a stupid show with stupid tricks for stupid humans, all with the premise that they are educating humans about the killer whales. If you really are interested in learning about killer whales, watch the many documentaries released on Discovery, Animal Planet or NG but spare us the corporate speak.

Wakeup People   March 1st, 2010 11:02 pm ET

Animal Rights activitists are all losers.
People across this land need to wake up QUICKLY. The likes of Tippie hendron want ALL animal-human relationships to end. How many of you stating that that Orcas should be returned to the wild have a dog or cat laying at your feet? ANimal Rights activists want your right to own a dog or cat to end as well. Today it is Orca, tomorrow it is Fido.

Larry, do you know that HSUS is currently being sued by Ringling Brothers on RICO charges? That's right, look it up. Tippie's remarks about circus's beating animals....HA! Look up the RICO charges, dare you to put that on your show

Roland Bahadoor   March 1st, 2010 11:03 pm ET

Hi larry,
With respect to the killer whales being in captivity:
They are there for commercial reasons as is the primary reason fomost capitalistic activities.
True that some learning about theese animals take place but I can assure you that this is not the reason for the whales being at the amusement parks .

The proponents on your show that ay the whales are not missing anything by being in captivity instead of their natural habitat are maikng the arguments that people in prison maximum security prisons are not missing any part of their freedom. If that is the argument these people should elect to be put in prison.

Linda Gross   March 1st, 2010 11:03 pm ET

Animals can predict earthquakes, our dogs are proof of that.
Could the earthquakes we are having lately been upsetting the
whales? I have been to Canada and watched the Orcas and their
families. I really think I would rather watch a tv documentary if I can"t
be out on the ocean seeing the Orcas with their own pod of whales. Put a
documentary on your show and education the public of these beautiful,
smart Orcas..
My father taught us to respect the wildlife. You can never trust wild a

Jared   March 1st, 2010 11:03 pm ET

By the way Todd, Seaworld has covered up the death of a trainer recently and I do not think that compares to your assertions about Ric O'Barry..the whales are violated by being kept in captivity which is a MUCH larger and more serious issue

Not right!   March 1st, 2010 11:07 pm ET

Why nobody asks Sea World if they love animals so much why don't they change to non-profit??

Successful reproduction: Lie! They do artificial insemination (that is why they'll hold Tilly as long as he is alive). Then the whales that are born live on average 7 years. The question to ask is what will happen once Tilly is gone? They cannot interbreed existing whales, so they MUST get the fresh blood from the wild.

Conservation: Lie! They just do as much (little) to create a facade which will allow them to get away with what they are doing! Conservation is NOT a major focus of this for profit corporation because THERE IS NO MONEY TO BE MADE ON CONSERVATION!!

Rescue: Yes, they do rescues and releases, but again same as with conservation just as much as to create a facade. In 2005 100+ rough-toothed dolphins stranded alive on Florida east coast, all but 7 had to be put to sleep right on the spot BECAUSE there was no place for them to go!!! THERE IS NO MONEY TO BE MADE ON RESCUES!!

Education: Lie! They'll give you few peep-facts and some pop info, but this is pretty much it. Public does not want to be educated much while on vacation, hence jumps and silly tricks with fish!

Research: Lie! They will let researchers in only if they study reproduction, nothing else is of interest to Sea World.

Finally, captivity can only be justified for the rescued animals who are crippled, injured and cannot survive anymore on their own in the wild. No more breeding in captivity for profit, entertainment purposes. Just think how much good Sea World monies could have done if they were channeled into improving wild habitats, fighting bycatch, etc.But again, there is no profit there! Also please do not forget that animals’ sonar and hearing is completely messed up in captivity. Young whales do not know how to communicate and echolocate properly. Concrete tanks are not acoustically friendly and frequent construction works agitate animals a lot. Do not also forget all these rides which are noisy and sound travel through the ground pretty good!

John   March 1st, 2010 11:12 pm ET

If an aminal kills someone we put them to sleep. This killer Whale has killed three people. It really shows me you can touch money and big corporations. What is the cost of a human life. One of your guest made a comment that if you had an aminal that had killed before and you let it do it again you could be in trouble for letting that behavior happen again. I am not an expert but common sense tells me if an aminal kills three times you can sure it will happen again. I dont think they should put Tilicum to sleep or put him back in the ocean but I am saying he should never be around humans in any show other wise it will happen again. Its just disgraceful. Like I said you cant touch money.

kelly   March 1st, 2010 11:15 pm ET

The sad truth is that animals in the wild are going extinct every where.

If you asked me 10 years ago whether I thought orcas or dolphins should be kept in captivity-I would have said emphatically "NO".

But looking at global development and increased over population, greed and development-(that we have no or little control over)-then I say education is important.

I believe local accredited aquariums have a place for education globally-and while tricks are fun for children to see-school programs need to work with aquariums around the world to teach our children that these are living and intelligent creatures-and their survival is in our hands. Its not north Americans that need to see the whales and appreciate them-its third world countries-who should have the opportunity for food, decent education and safety as well as an opportunity to study whales, tigers, Gorillas and every creature.

Having said that, the Aquariums and marine biologists and the corporate investors behind them, need to focus on education and business globally, to insure the waters where Dolphins and whales swim are clean-just as the water that children drink should be clean.

Moreover-Please work to educate "the educated" of China and Japan and Korea-who do not need to eat whale and dolphin but need to embrace and develop greener industry-invest in green industry Blackwell.

Further-entice those same countries and others interested in Robotics to develop the technology to produce a robotic version of Tillicum so that in the future, these creatures can be shown (and do tricks) without having to use real ones...Finally we could have a good and shared use , and a moral use for advanced technology of the 21st century.

Amber Westra   March 1st, 2010 11:19 pm ET

There have been many different animal that have killed a human being, that have been put down. What's the difference with this beast of a killer whale? If a dog bites a person they get put down. If a elephant harms a person they get put down,ect.. What happened to the trainer was not by chance. Remind you if I known to have commit one murder by accident or not, and was indacated in two previous murders, there no doubt that I would be put down. When does a animal take the of a human beings life? I thought we ruled over them not them over us.

lyndsey   March 1st, 2010 11:20 pm ET

the facts are this every whale or dolphin found in any park or sea aquarium are drugged. look in any fish house found in these torture hell holes and you will see the "vitamins" they place in the dolphins food. it is meant to subdue the animal so it does not get stressed out from its enviroment. anyone of these parks should be ashamed for displaying these beautiful creates in a light that is very very far from the truth. they are meant to hunt and kill so the trainer that died was a smart, and amazing person that had the best intentions but was showing her love of these animals in the worst way. they are not meant to be corned in cement walls that do nothing but show a false light on what these animals are. to see these animals do tricks is a nice little show but at what cost is it to their sanity. more deaths are going to come until people wake up and stop supporting Seaworld and their pro slaughter ideas. Its all just a big scam.

Todd   March 1st, 2010 11:24 pm ET

So much incorrect information, hard to know where to begin. The money argument is getting old. Changing to a non-profit wouldn't change a thing...other than the way you're taxed. Do you honestly think those who work for non-profits don't get paid? Have you ever seen Ric O'Barry's house in the keys. He is getting paid magnificently for his disinformation campaigns. That all he extremist for hire. Sometimes with WSPA, sometimes with HSUS, sometimes with OneVoice...whoever giving him a paycheck at the time. Please research it yourself...I'm only stating facts.

I understand this is an emotional topic, and everyone has the right to their opinion...but again, please base it on the truth.

As far as the whales performing for food...that's really a ridiculous statement, and anyone who has ever spent any hands on time at SeaWorld, or any other reputable marine park knows that is garbage. And if your opinion of SeaWorld only caring about money is true...why in the world would they withhold food from a multi-million dollar animal that's earning them so much money??? The animal would eventually starve to death if left in a caloric deficit all the time. You can't have it both ways. The fact is it is simply not true.

donna a   March 1st, 2010 11:24 pm ET

Loved Jane Valez Mitchell on your show tonight and she certainly hit a homerun for animals and exposing the money men and their game about the educational value of holding those whales hostage for their entire life...and it is the same situation as the circus as Ms Hedron said....they're all hostages..and maybe the trainers are in their job by choice but the animals don't have a choice...

kelly   March 1st, 2010 11:25 pm ET

If you asked me a decade ago whether I thought orcas or dolphins should be kept in captivity-I would have said "NO".

Looking at global development and increased over population, greed and development-that we have no or little control over-then I say education is important.

In my opinion, local accredited aquariums have a place for education around the world-and while tricks are fun for children to see-school and higher education programs need to work with aquariums around our world to teach our children that these are living and sentient beings-and their survival is in our hands. Its not north Americans who ought to see the whales and appreciate them-its third world countries, who should have the opportunity for food, decent education and safety as well as an opportunity to study whales, tigers, Gorillas and all animals.

Aquariums and marine biologists and corporate investors behind them, need to focus on education and business globally, to insure that the waters where Dolphins and whales swim are clean-just as water that children drink should be clean.

Please work to educate the wealthy people of China and Japan and Korea-who do not need to eat whale and dolphin but need to embrace and develop greener industry-invest in green industry Blackwell.

Yes, we can entice those same countries and others interested in robotics to develop the technology to produce a robotic version of whales and dolphins like Tillicum ,so that in the future, these creatures can be shown (and do tricks) without having to use real ones...Perhaps in the end, we could have a good and shared use , and a moral use for advanced technology of the future.

Oysterpot   March 1st, 2010 11:31 pm ET

I don't think they should be made "show " acts. I don't have a problem with captivity for science, as long as the science doesn't entail mutilation. I think captivity in many cases has helped species and preserved some from extinction. It is just sad that it took man and captivity toreserve any species. In all cases it is because of man the the wolf is in the state it is in now.

Of course!   March 1st, 2010 11:38 pm ET

Sea World does not use food deprivation. They use what is called operant conditioning: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, systematic desensitization, etc. ole' good B.F. Skinner stuff. You know rats and pigeons stuff. But animals are much more complex systems than R+ and R-, hence misbehaving, refusing to work and attacking trainers AND other whales. This is a major problem with operant conditioning training because it can only be used to the certain extent with humans as well as with killer whales, because it is more complicated than you do trick and I'll give you fish, you don't -I ignore you. This is too simplistic approach, these whales in the wild can do a coordinated attack on a school of fish, communicate who does what, etc.
Have you seen how these whales lure pelicans and then attack and kill them? Boredom is a major problem and no environmental enrichment on earth can be enough for captive killer whale.

Pam   March 1st, 2010 11:49 pm ET

We need to find out just how many cover ups have gone on at the different sea world parks.
By the way did you see the "gulps" on the faces of the 2 sea world guys when Rick brought up those other deaths?
Very telling.

Eugen Burri   March 1st, 2010 11:59 pm ET

Hallo Larry,
I was watching the Show tonight about the Killer Wales.I was in Orlando and also here in Niagara falls at the Marineland.It seems to me that the Wales and also the Dolphines enjoi there lives and plays at the Parks very much!! I was in the Winter time at the Aquarium at Marieneland as i cooked for the Staff party a long time ago and was able to get to the Dolphines by my self.Ther were Balls around and i was able to play with them for almost a Houre and they seem to have a lot of fun!! Come back to the Killer Wales,of cours there is a risk with this big Monsters!! Is there not always a risk in Life??? Olympics in Vancouver,1 death.That can happen at any given Day in Life.Drive a car,clime Mountens,go in to a Aireplain,there is always a chance to die.But,if there goes something wrong,they look for somebody to be responsible for!!

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 12:03 am ET

Only one thing to say.

Jack Hanna the SO-CALLED animal activist come on the Larry King show in front of millions of viewers wearing a CAMON SKIN HAT???

A. Smith, Oregon   March 2nd, 2010 12:03 am ET

Orcha's constantly depend on the use of Sonar (high frequency waves) to maneuver and locate in their surroundings. They must be harmed and their senses damaged by placing them into small enclosures 24/7 where their Sonar senses constantly ping them back the same unchanging patterns over and over again.

jila homayounfar   March 2nd, 2010 12:04 am ET

I am surprised and disappointed that you did not have a Phd mammologist on your show to inform a truly representative discussion. I am a molecular biologist, but what I do know from the countless hours of animal documentaries that I have watched, is that killer whales are extremely intelligent animals that live complex lives in the wild. Holding them in captivity and teaching them to do clownish human tricks is not only vulgar, but serves no educational purpose. Also, it appears that these animals (like dolphins) suffer from stress disorders and shortened life expectancies in captivity. Finally, to address the fallacious arguement that children benefit from seeing these animals in captivity – children can visit naturalistic aquariums where they are able to learn genuine biology.
Finally, I wish to add that your guest from Sea World was a graceless, ignorant indvidual .
Jila Homayounfar.

Ted Turner   March 2nd, 2010 12:10 am ET

Folks – a couple of important points you really need to be aware of:
1. Prior to the exposure that people received at SeaWorld, the U.S. tuna fleets were killing over 500,000 dolphins per year and now that number has been drastically reduced in the U.S. although over 300,000 per year are still dying from international vessel operations, driftnetting and other man-made causes. On the record is the U.S. Congressional Report on the Passage of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which said – “...without observing marine mammals in oceanaria the 'magnificent interest' in marine mammals will be lost and 'none will ever see them and none will care about them and they will be extinct.” “If it were not for these organizations and the public exposure you have on these animals in the first place, these matters wouldn't be brought to the attention of the public."
2. These captive breeding programs simply must be established for two reasons. a.) To learn about saving these animals pro-actively. If we wait to try to learn about these animals when there numbers are dangerously low, we are inviting extinction. SeaWorld has the only viable long-term breeding program for these animals that also acts as a model for caring for other whales such as the rescue and eventual release of J.J. the california grey whale in San Diego SeaWorld, a beached baby whale that would most certainly have died without expert care. b.) To act as a repository for genetic preservation of species. Our science is in the relatively early stages but we are now on the cusp of success in breeding Pandas, Killer Whales, Okapi, Sea Otters, Belugas, California Condors, and many other species who need help in this deteriorating world. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says “…Establishment of self-sustaining captive populations and other supportive intervention will be needed to avoid the loss of many species, especially those at high risk. In greatly reduced, highly fragmented, and disturbed habitats Captive breeding programmes need to be established before species are reduced to critically low numbers, and thereafter need to be co-ordinated internationally according to sound biological principles, with a view to the maintaining or re-establishment of viable populations in the wild.”
3. The behaviors you sea at SeaWorld, are characterized by skeptics as stupid "tricks", and I suppose their are some who think that studying bacteria, atoms or diatoms is silly. However,these seemingly simple behaviors provide us with invaluable insight into the cognitive abilities of animals, their learning rates, short-term and long-term memories and foundational "intelligence" which enables to determine the best policies for handling wildlife given an enlightened understanding. When combined with biological research, this psychological research provides a more complete picture of what these animals are capable of and their ability to adapt to an ever changing environment. We now know that young killer whales acquire information at 5x the rate of adults. Fascinating and critical in understanding their ability to survive in the wild. University of Southern Mississippi, University of Florida, National Marine Fisheries, Harvard and many other highly respected agencies & institutes use the information derived from these animals to enhance wildlife conservation.
4. Finally folks, there are groups that deliberately spread disinformation about zoological parks and aquariums and have been doing so my entire career. That is how they raise money, by creating tabloid media controversies. Ingrid Newkirk of PeTA and Wayne Pacelle (Pacelli) of HSUS and Ric Obarry readily admit it and insist their employees follow-suit. The reality is that these animals are extremely well cared for by people who dedicate their lives to their well-being. They are happy and healthy, establishing social groups, breeding and raising young and living lives as long or longer than in the wild where disease, predations, pollution, and many other hazards are part of their daily lives. These programs should not replace the lives wild animals must lead, they should however supplement our ability to do better for wildlife and habitats.

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 12:11 am ET

When Jack-the Hat Hanna was asked why do we need to use these magnificent mamal to entertain man, he answered
Quote: "We dont do this to entertain folks we do this to educate folks."

Please explain, if thats the case, how does the last film of the dead trainer show her weaving back and forth thereby causing the Orca to move his head side to side.

WOW! That is certainly an educational thing to demonstrate her superiority over the Orca.

When my 5 year old grandaughter visited me over the weekend, and saw that film footage she looked at me and said "I THINK THAT'S STUPID GRANDPA, DONT YOU THINK"????

doncolecartoons   March 2nd, 2010 12:13 am ET

I think the whale got the trainer's hair (pony tail) caught in it's teeth, and that is what led to the resulting tragedy

Don Cole, Dover NJ

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 12:15 am ET


Now that's one hell of a monicker for a world class???? Consevationist dont you thinkt??

j   March 2nd, 2010 12:22 am ET

johnny is the BEST

hideaki nagano   March 2nd, 2010 12:24 am ET

I get into a car,i thnk free way free style free love,i think Beat Generation,free Erkennen.doors is free.

Lyla - from Canada's west coast   March 2nd, 2010 12:32 am ET

'Killer' whales' dorsal fin sags when they are ill. Ask some unbiased experts. Thanks for the interest in this issue. There must be some scientists available who are not boosting aquatic entertainment that you can bring on your show to tell us what effect poor health could possibly have on the temperament of a whale. Or, perhaps no one really knows.
Your panel members who considered themselves experts did not mention the sagging dorsal fin we can all see on Tilikum in most recent images. Compare to images of wild orcas, or even of others in the same videos. If Mr. Hanna and your other expert knew of recent deaths by whales in captivity but did not bring it up themselves and appeared to dodge the issue, they are disingenuous. They then appear to be shills for the marina entertainment industry. Which is sad.

Susan Strauss   March 2nd, 2010 12:58 am ET

It's cool what Ric O' Barry stands for, but he really sucks at debating and doesn't really speak up for his cause well.

Lyla - from Canada's west coast   March 2nd, 2010 1:23 am ET

The best "viable long-term breeding program" for any wild species is to protect and maintain their natural habitat. Not to hunt them or to capture them. Valid, effective and relevant study of whales in the wild is what will preserve them for eternity. Not behavioural games in watery cages and spreading misinformation to children, and their parents.

Brinckley   March 2nd, 2010 1:31 am ET

Let the killer whale go even if he risks losing his life in the wild. I'm curious why the tiger was put to sleep in the Las Vegas show but somehow its okay to keep the show running in sea world? How much money does it cost to replace a killer whale and train it? Very sad.

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 1:32 am ET

If sea world never existed and I never saw sea life like the ones at sea world and be able to touch sea life I wouldn't have an interest in learning more about it and respecting sea life. Its not like there keeping thousands of whales in captivity. Also the entertainment value sea world provides helps learning. In school learning about topics with boring books or lecture I couldn't grasp it. The funny thing is everyone is an activist now when sea world has been around since 1964. We all know that animals are wild and accidents can happen. This could happen in the ocean also. So why isn't anyone talking about zoo's right now along with sea world. Because no one has been killed in a while. How biased can these activists be. The trainer made the mistake of getting to close to Tilikum when she knew of the precautions taken. People are blowing this out of proportion. Also If these animals are so unhealthy and unhappy more deaths and injuries would of been happening also more animals would become ill at a higher rate. I bet if anyone saw the show they would have more respects for sea life. Its what you learn about it.

Anirudh   March 2nd, 2010 1:32 am ET

Larry: I have been to Sea World and my nephew did not find it entertaining, he asked me, "uncle what if this creature eats us up!!!"

Also, if this is so educational why not make it a "not for profit" organization...

Please let your guest see the movie "The Insider" (1999)


Rick you rock!

kelly   March 2nd, 2010 1:33 am ET

@ ted turner-while studying Orca or dolphins in captivity
and their "relative" behavior is essential for
understanding the captive Orca-none have been released
successfully into the wild after being bred (as far as I know)

Studying natural behavior comes from studying captivity
in a larger theatre. Using the intelligence of the
animal in the same way as one would a dog
(a domesticated animal)teaches us what?

its not the captivity that bothers me-or "the tricks"
its the "scientific method" ie. humans controlling food
as an excuse to conduct"research".

How is this relevant to helping us
understand natural conservation in the wild?
Show me a study confirming reliability and validity of
these methods in meaningful research, and I will agree.

Its common sense-these are wild animals-however
responsible conservation (and entertainment)can
go along way to teach us about dolphins and whales.

Use larger , more natural theatres for whales
and involve school programs, local communities
as well as business to educate, learn and evolve industry
and technology-to save our oceans.

jason   March 2nd, 2010 1:34 am ET

on the right of your screen: Evil, Jack "the RIpper" Hannah and zoo PR hack guy, on the left of the screen: Truth! zoos and sea world and animal abusement prisions should be abolished and outlawed. What a low at least, what, camel markets? at least first century behavior. BOycott Sea world and animal captivity corporate prisions. positive reinforcement? Ha! you know where you can stick that sir, give me my freedom!

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 1:35 am ET

@Ted Turner

Are you with CNN? If you are, could you please change the style of this web site as it is very difficult for me to read what others have said.

Orcas and their cousins dolphins, have the intelligence as much as a human or almost the intelligence. Therefore, they will respond similar to humans. Captivity is unnatural and they will start behaving erratic. Especially for adult males. They are to be free. Captivity is crippling these majestic animals. Their language is as complicated as ours.

You can not learn from these animals in Captivity. They are very stressed and responding to their stress. This is not learning about the animal, this is torture!!! Free these intelligent beings!!!

don knauer   March 2nd, 2010 1:38 am ET

Wow... Todd, you seem to be another spin doctor lacky for the captive industry. Most, if not all your personal attacks against Mr. O'Barry are complete lies and misinformation.
Sea World is strictly a cheap circus that has no educational value. The Blue Whale has been removed the the Extinction list without having to see it in captivity. The elephant has been in captivity longer than almost any other animal and is on the verge of extinction. If you want to see the Grand Canyon, you need to goto the Grand Canyon. The same for wild animals. Not everyone can have that experience of seeing whales in the wild and that's ok...

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 1:40 am ET

@Ted Turner

I was involved in research with the bottle nose dolphins in Hawaii under John C. Lilly during the late 1960s! He was a very famous researcher. What was found, these animals have language and intelligence equal to humans. Orcas have the same intelligence as their cousins, the dolphins. You can check the studies of "J" and "k" Orca pods off Vancouver Island! These animals have social networks. Captivity is the same for them as it is for us!!!

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 1:42 am ET

tippi has no right to speak because she has animals in captivity. She learns from them. She was interviewd about her animal perserve and she stated she could learn from them.
Also if we didn't have animals in captvity we wouldn't know alot about them and be able to save them from extinction. Most of the whales at sea world were born in captivity. They were never in the ocean in the first place. Most of the animals in captivity are bred into captivity. There is alot of facts and statitics out there to back these statitics up.

Julia   March 2nd, 2010 1:43 am ET

The name already says: KILLER WHALES!!!
How many more incidents have to happen before we realize that wild animals should not be kept in captivity?

Release all Killer Whales to the ocean!!!
Enough already with the entertainment business in the name of research!

If research is really the main reason to keep them captive, insert a camera in those whales and release them!

Human beings should have more compassion with these poor animals!!

jack   March 2nd, 2010 1:44 am ET

Something is wrong with your page tonight. Broken Margins. Usually fine. Larry , you are in top form, probing and fair, and humor. My opinion , for what it is worth is this: Commercial whaling should br banned and also killing dolphins. The whales that are in captivity now are probably much better off to stay there, because they are not accustomed to the wild, and would likely die if released into the wild. Why have trainers? Just study them and allow the public to see the captive whales, without trainers geytting into tank with them. All the guests seem sincere, and sorry for the loss of the trainers. The whales should continue to be treated humanely , just ban in tank trainers.

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 1:45 am ET

Jack Hana...

You have absolutely no idea! You talk nonsense. Killer whales were named because they kill people? Are you crazy. Killer whales are named that because they kill whales. You are a joke. Shut up! You are an embarrassment! Good Grief!

A. Smith, Oregon   March 2nd, 2010 1:48 am ET

@ Dodie, if you are able to read my previous blog comment, Dr. Gary purposefully loaded several hundred single character's into one line which screws up the format of the blog postings by pushing them out to some 300 characters per line. I'm surprised CNN hasn't deleted that comment and banned that person completely as this same blogger has done this before in a previous blog they apparently didn't like.

Scroll up to Dr. Gary's blog post and see how many characters of $ he used to destroy the standard blog formatting context.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 1:49 am ET

Do not blame the whales for tragedies. Just like people who keep venomous snakes etc., there is a risk involved with such interaction. Because of the danger , I think the whales can best be viewed in large tanks if they are to be kept captive for study. Imagine the trauma of children who may witness a human dismemberment or death involving a trainer in the tank. In the wild whales are not swimming around with humans. Keep it more natural and play it safe.

Parry   March 2nd, 2010 1:51 am ET

I think you guys have gone too much overboard on this issue. Seriously, People are har pressed making both ends meet, and your needle is stuck on killer whales. As newscasters, you have to be balanced and have a serious responsibilty to engage the public in more productive conversation. After all, it comes to the "survival of the fittest".

don knauer   March 2nd, 2010 1:57 am ET

"Killer Whales" or Orca's have never killed a human in the wild. They have killed and injured numerous trainers in captivity. Maybe we should only call them Killer Whales when they are at captive facilites and Orca's when they are in the wild. It's sad they resumed the whale show at Sea World before the trainer was even buried. No respect. Sea World tried to first claim she slipped and fell in the pool. Lucky for eye wittness testimony that the truth came out. This whale attacked for the 3rd time. Leave wildlife in the wild.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 1:58 am ET

@Parry..We could talk about something that never arouses any how to achieve a comprehensive health care reform bill. :-/

antoinette neron   March 2nd, 2010 1:59 am ET

how many whales doplhins etc. have died in captivity that belonged to sea world or other auquariums? it is barbaric to keep any animal in such small unnatural micro-enviroments,akin to raising a child in a bathroom-we hear something everyday in the news how enviromental stress effects humans do we not give the same consideration to our marine friends??----please stop the madness– there are plenty of ways to educate the public about animals without these aquarium sideshows,what could a person possibly learn about a whale by watching it perform "tricks" its slavery in the worst form and has no correlation to its real plight in the wild-???

Joel Cordova   March 2nd, 2010 1:59 am ET

How much proof do we need to realize that anything that comes in contact with human kind goes to hell???

I have been watching as always my favorite channel CNN, and to hear questions such as. Should a wild animal that has killed a human being be put down?? talking about the whale went crazy, in my opinion the whale went WHALE!

I will never ever! spend my money to support such an outrageous act as the one of the killer whale.

and Larry there are nicer ways to cut people off. I mean what do I know, you are the man. I still love and enjoy your show, just don't be rude to people that want to right our wrongs such as that animal activist you had in your show

jack   March 2nd, 2010 2:00 am ET

My precious margins have been restored. Miracles do happen.

viviane   March 2nd, 2010 2:04 am ET

Thad makes a serious oversight in his belittlement of Tippi's "knowledge." A person does not have to be an "expert" on how to train and breed wild animals in a tank to know that keeping wild animals in captive is horrific. These animals are highly sophisticated, living in pods with relationships. It means nothing that Thad has been doing it since he was 20 years old – confining all wild animals in this fashion is wrong and cruel punishment.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 2:06 am ET

@Dodie.. You have done a lot of interesting stuff. John Lilly was quite a renowned researcher, with animal communication as well as exploration of the potentials of the mind. That must have been very strange and rewarding.

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 2:07 am ET

I keep hearing that the tricks they do are silly. The tricks they do are the same tricks they do in the wild. The trainers are they so they do it on demand and with props, etc. If you watch documentaries of them in the wild you will see they do the same tricks. Also so many people humanize these animals. Well if they are human don't you think if that they didn't want to do tricks they just wouldn't and be more agressive. Thats what humans would do. We need to stop humanizing these animals. Yes they are intellegent creatures with there brain functioning to do things that meet there needs. They don't understand human language and yes they have emotion but you have to put in perspective they are a different species than humans and there brain patterns and functioning are completely different. If they were the same we could should be able to teach them to speak and understand human language which they don't. Also its very disrespectful to the trainer that died because she was doing what she loved. And if you think that sea world doesn't educate why don't you work for them and get the information yourself and educate yourself by actually seeing what they do instead of listening to the activists that will tell lies for there own agenda.

Julie   March 2nd, 2010 2:08 am ET

Its a sad day for the trainers family. She did what she loved yes, and I'm sure, always aware of the danger. This happens every day with people having wild pets, but its big business $$$$$$. Will it change, no.... Seaworld staff is sad, yes. They lost part of their family. They'll just wait for time to pass, people will forget, they hope. If more people would boycott these large businesses. Would you like to go to prison, a home your not use too. No Way. Think of these poor animals at these facilities. We are all to blame because we support them by visiting their establishments. There are many places to go for entertainment for families.....

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 2:11 am ET

And unfortunately the places that abuse animals give the rest of the organizations a bad name. Its not fair. If it makes me an animal abuser for supporting sea world and zoos and sanctuaries than thats everyone's elses opinion but I have to say I support many organizations that help these animals in the wild because of my experiences in life with these places and if these places didn't exist I most likely wouldn't be interested because seeing them puts a emitional side to it. and yes I like the entertainment factor of it because they are not hurting or abusing the animals in any way and its amazing the interaction we can have with these wild animals and the love and trust they have with us.

Desmond, Canada   March 2nd, 2010 2:12 am ET

Education . my foot! I went to Marineland, Niagara Falls. It was entertainment. I learned very little. Instead, I have learned a lot lot more about marine animals by watching them in their natural habitats through TV.
In your interview, the guy at the bottom right was OBNOXIOUSLY CONDESCENDING to put it mildly. The guy at the Top right was very passionate but OK until he started to mock the guy at the Top Left when he stuttered because of his passion, even though he himself was continually stuttering without being mocked. The guy at the Top Left and Tipi were not only talking sense (despite Tipi mixing up the gladiators with the crusaders) but were also the most decent of your panel. The Seaworld guys were clearly protecting their turf. Like animals that are now cornered or tanked.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 2:12 am ET

The whales may very well be much more intelligent than humans.

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 2:15 am ET

And for everyone that objects to these places did you know that field trips to zoos, sanctuaries, sea world are very common places to take children for education. So when your child has a field trip to the zoo do you complain to the school board these are innapropiate places for children to learn. Obviously the education system believes these are learning tools for our children.
Also tippi commented on the love of dinosaurs and how we can't see them. But that is untrue. We can see them and visualize them in museaums with there bones, and life size statues of them, and videos of them. Thats why children love them because there is a face to them and cihldren see how they possibly interacted.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 2:22 am ET

@JENNIFER R...True but when I took my kids to the zoo, they enjoyed it without seeing trainers romping with the polar bears are cavorting with the apes inside the cages. Like someone said earlier, lets allow them to be as natural as possible. We do not need to humanize animals. It is preferable to view them, as much as possible in their natural environment. I remember the zoo in Minneapolis allowed the lions to roam in a huge , more natural type environment. This will lend a more eduactional dimension to the zoos , but would avoid extra tragedies like the ones , involving the trainers who sadly died in close proximity to the animals.

JoAnne Drew   March 2nd, 2010 2:36 am ET

Watched the first segment of your March 1 st show and I have to say that Jack Hanna with his hasty nervous speach and the condescending ex Sea World guy came off as people who truly believe that animals were put here for human enjoyment.
'We need another and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by men. In a world more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.' – Henry Beston, The Outermost House.
I live in Victoria BC and work for a lab who used to test Tillikum's blood. In order to do this, he was forced into a pen which had a platform that raised him out of the water. People put zinc cream on him and the vet stuck a needle in his tail fluke until he finally hit the vein. Tillikum's eye moved around following the movements of the people around him. He couldn't do a thing, could not move. I thought his expression said, " I'll get you, you --–s" This was in 1990. Not long after, trainer Keltie Byrnes fell into the pool and was tossed around like a toy which earned Tillikum his promotion to Sea World.
I thank Richard and Tippy for speaking up. Richard was earnest, credible and direct.
JoAnne Drew
Victoria BC

don knauer   March 2nd, 2010 2:38 am ET

@Ted Turner is one of the biggest dolphin dealers in the world. He recently exported 27 dolphins from the Solomon Islands to a swim with program in Dubai. He bought the dolphins from fisherman who kill dolphin for their meat and teeth.

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 2:41 am ET

@ Jack. .... The zoo in Denver, Co they have trainers for the elephants and have an elephant show where the trainers lay under the elephant. Elephants stepping on step stools, etc. Also elephants rides for children. Other zoos in other states also have that. The seals, monkeys, penquins, polar bears, birds, and small animals also have trainers also. There are trainers for allmost every animal. It may not be as dynamic as sea world with the lights and music but there are trainers for almost every type of animal. Children can interact with elephants and even ride them at the zoos I have been to in colorado and they are wild animals. Aquariams also have a tank where you can touch and interact with sea life and those are wild animals. Theres always going to be contraversey in any type of situation involving animals. I think the biggest contraversy is the animals being brought in illegially like lions, exotic birds, bears, etc in our neighbors home. That should really be the issue. Sea world no longer captures animals in the wild because of a law passed and now the breed the animals in captivity and have a great sucess rate.

Donald Allen   March 2nd, 2010 2:43 am ET

what can I say if you give your life you sued get conformation for doing so it a thing about greed if you give you life what more can you do and the one,s getting rich sued pay I believe in an testy I,M saying you or just as guilty as she was and you sued be able to fut the bill so what can say or do to make it a better life four the one involved I believe the people at the shoe sued pay four the damages well hop you do what is right and you no the wile life sued be set free one,t again sorry four the lost see you Donald L Allen

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 3:02 am ET

@ A. Smith

I agree... I read your earlier blog. I wish they could do something about that person ... as it was extremely difficult to read.

Thanks for your insight and comments. Keep em coming!

hideaki nagano   March 2nd, 2010 3:33 am ET

The past i think obstinacy,pactical wisdom individualty honesty,cross,Saturn tast,I think Tate.

A. Smith, Oregon   March 2nd, 2010 4:37 am ET

The spokesman for Seaworld as a guest of LKL lied when he told the audience Willie-Keiko lived one year free and died a miserable death after starving in the Ocean when freed.

Though the hope of those behind the "Free Willy" project was to release Keiko into the wild, it's not fair to brand the effort a failure, said Naomi Rose, senior scientist at Humane Society International.
"In terms of giving Keiko a better life, it was 100 percent successful," Rose said.

After two years of "rehab" at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport to restore his health, Keiko spent four years living in net pens and venturing into the open ocean off the coast of Iceland. He then swam on his own to Norway, where he lived another year, free to come and go. When he died of an apparent lung infection in December 2003, Keiko was estimated to be 27 years old — a longer life span than any other captive male orca, said Dave Phillips, director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation.

He spent FIVE years off the coast of Iceland and Norway before dieing older than his normal lifespan and older than any previous captive male Orcha.

Was it worth all the efforts by Oregonians for car washes and donations for 20 million dollars to rehab Keiko, place him onto a huge converted 747 Jumbo jet and fly him to Iceland?


And Willie-Keiko as the FIRST Orcha Whale that was held in captivity for many years and then released shouldn't be the last.

matthew   March 2nd, 2010 4:42 am ET

the animals had their own way and would have been fine if left alone this science is dangerous and domesticating has its consequences they protect wildlife leave it alone then there is nothing wrong with feeding but thats as far as you go and you dont want to do that too much captivity is a big mistake for the animal will not learn its instincs which it needs kind of like us we have limited instincs of survival because it has been taken away a bit remember when the neighbors and you had a garden with vegtables and fruit and much more

John Tavares   March 2nd, 2010 4:46 am ET

It's unfortunate the spokesperson for Seaworld chose to continually attack the credentials of your guests. Although they may not be marine biologists, their opinions were informed and sounded valid. His ad hominen position seemed to underline that he was on tenuous ground in regards to keeping the orcas in captivity and that the trainers' work is potentially too dangerous to justify.

Adam   March 2nd, 2010 4:57 am ET

Do you guys all see that the commentary on this blog that is for the keeping of whales in captivity is all written in the exact same, well informed, mistake free voice?
Just saying disney might have alot to lose from a public outcry and it would make sense for them to put people into the convo in order to steer it

Jason Beck   March 2nd, 2010 4:59 am ET


I am an avid surfer and lover of our oceans. I believe and think that you will find that we all sit on the same side of this debate. Creatures of the seas and oceans belong to the ocean not to an aquarium. They would never choose this life on their own volution. It is absurd to me to hear from Jack Hannah to support this and know that this only driven by corporate interests. It is really sad that a man of such stature would get support for this venture. There is much bigger problems in the world to focus on.

Kind Regards,
Jason Beck

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 5:22 am ET

Actually the spokesman didn't lie. I looked up the information. He did die a year after he was relased. The trainers lost track of him on july 11, 2002 on one of his walks with the trainers in the open ocean off of Icelend. He had a satellite tracking device on his dorsal fin. They later found 870 miles away off the coast of Norway. He would follow fishing boats to Halsa Norway where he would let people play and crawl on his back. Local marine biologists found him to be very hungry and lost a bunch of weight while he was in the north atlantic. Later on his trainers arrived to discourage his interactions with humans and hopefully be adopted into a pod but the pod never showed. So the trainers had to feed and care for him after that. He died of pneumonia on december 12, 2003. He lost a bunch of weight and became lethargic and then eventually beach himself. It wasn't sucessfull.

Look up the facts. I did. I hate it when lies are posted. I found this on several websites including Wikpedia which can substanstitate it.

Hermgirl   March 2nd, 2010 5:37 am ET

I say "Right on!" and "Well said!" to Tippi Hedren!!! I know that she has done work where she has taken in animals that were neglected and abused, and she deserves a lot of credit for raising consciousness about our animal friends.

I have often thought to myself that we have no business forcing animals to become consumer-based entertainment for us. Animals belong in the wild.

JKF   March 2nd, 2010 5:50 am ET

Sea World tries to justify keeping orcas in captivity by saying it is educational for people who are not able to see them in the wild. Hogwash! It's simply a cash cow for them and job security for their employees.

Both circuses and establishments like Seaworld only harm animals because the environment they provide is not natural nor are the ridiculous tricks and acts they force the animals to perform.

These places merely serve as entertainment venues for people/families who are willing to pay to satisfy their thrill for adventure during their vacation.

If Seaworld wanted to educate people about orcas they could provide a service that could take people out on submarines to observe marine life in their natural habitat, which would limit the contact and imprint people have in disrupting these beautiful creatures lives.

"Training" an animal to perform an unnatural act is simply not educational.

Arnie Falvo   March 2nd, 2010 6:23 am ET

Jack Hanna is not a very well reasoned spokesperson for "Killer Whales" By the way we should call them Orcas

samuel   March 2nd, 2010 6:45 am ET

Larry, could you ask that guy with a hat what material that hat is made of, maybe whale skin.?

gt balan   March 2nd, 2010 6:54 am ET

this scumbag thad lacinak is a arrogant condesanting low life who thinks he is the one who knows everything about whales n that everyone else knows nothing..this low life needs to be put in a bathtub and asked 5 years how he feels..this scum seems to know how the whales feel about their captivity in seaworld..also another scumbag is jack hannah who i had admired once but know now as only interested in the profits that the zoos and seaworld bring to them..these 2 scum of the earth need to be outed for what they truly are..greedy money grabbing poachers who support and sponsor the kidnap of wild animals and then sell them for profit to zoos around the world

Molly van der Burgh   March 2nd, 2010 6:56 am ET

Seaworld seems to be a huge money making machine but they state that they are there for education and conservation purposes. If so why aren't they taking ALL of the profits and ploughing it back into education and conservation. I bet there are thousands in America who haven't been to Seaworld as they can't afford the price of a ticket so who exactly is being educated. It's normally the lower income group that needs education on the importance of conservation but the only ones being "educated" are the ones who can afford to go.

Sally   March 2nd, 2010 7:11 am ET

In a perfect world, no animals would be in capitivity, but the notion that an animal born in captivity "misses" the wild, just doesn't make sense. Here in South Africa, we are able to have domestic cats that are allowed outside, in other words free roaming. Now cats do roam, however they DO NOT roam far (unless they haven't been neutered / spayed), maybe a house or two away. The reason for this, is that they have no need to go further away to look for food and this is the same for an animal in captivity – AS LONG AS it was born in capitivity. Even the whole idea of domestic cats as hunters, for example, falls away. I have 4 cats and I can count on my 1 hand the number of times they have hunted/killed something, because their needs are met. When they have killed something, I know that something is wrong, like when we had the melamine in pet food scare , my cats didn't want the food and "found their own food". So the idea that it is cruel to keep the killer whales in captivity is not logical due to them having been born in captivity. Even in humans, a human born into poverty and thus living in a confined space suffers not from a confined living space, but someone born into a large dwelling and is forced into a small living space due to human expansion / poverty, suffers immense stress from the reduction in space.

Cameron W   March 2nd, 2010 7:53 am ET

I truly dislike how a lot of our American society of entertainment is based on the suffering of other creatures. Animals at the zoo should not be kept in a "jail-cell." These are creatures like us who have social instincts and need socialization with creatures of their own kind to help in the positive production of their mind. When creatures are kept "locked" away from their society it makes them mentally insane and unstable and they can sometimes act out and cause harm like what happen with the Orca whale incident.

I can't understand how we as a people can capture a creature from its homeland or environment and then "in-prison" it for our own commands and pleasures and have it do tricks with no contact from its family. Orca whales are one example of animal that lives with a social environment and stay in a pod (large grouping of whales) which is the same as a family to them. So why are we separating animals from their natural habit and families just for our amusement? Explain that one to me

Stew Lustgarten   March 2nd, 2010 8:00 am ET

Dear Larry

I'm an old fan from Miami days and also a very clinically minded dental bio-materials expert. A few years back, I got involved with the Marine Mammal Science world in FL when a young Dolphin was rescued who lost its tail. When I first heard about it I put together a plan and team to provide gratis a prosthetic tail with the assistance of Harbor Branch Marine Institute in Ft. Piece for "Winter" who was at Clearwater Aquarium. In my generosity and involving "Sea World", amongst others, it became one big political joke and I have the e-mails to prove it. All Clearwater seemed to want to do is use the Dolphin to exploit for fundraising and no one in the state wished to cooperate.

Unlike Orca's, which are not Whales, but in the same family as Dolphins, they are not like Dolphin's who do not derive their food from land. Dolphin's, like dogs, have a throughout the years inherited instinct to rely and depend on humankind while Orca's, do not.

By coincidence PBS last week had a doc. on Orca's feeding at water's edge on young Sea Lions, or such, at water's edge on the beach. They said to get their tummies filled they need eat, 3-250 pounders a day. They ram themselves up on the beach at water's edge, grab their tails and pull them back into the water and drown them. Very much the same fate met by the Sea World, trainer. Jack Hanna and that other trainer/promoter on your show last night didn't know what they were talking about and the fact of reproduction is no test. As to educational value, one must only compare the Dolphin show at Miami Seaquarium to the one at Sea World. Orca's must be left in the Deep Blue but sometimes, I think the one's born in captivity and exploited for profit may be better off dead then alive.


Stewart J. Lustgarten

Elizabeth, Canada   March 2nd, 2010 8:30 am ET

With Jack Hanna seeming to be the one of superior knowledge (to himself, that is) of just what is best for the whales, it sure would be nice to hear him explain what his qualifications are. Perhaps he obtained his accredited orca degree at Seaworld, you know it is educational.

I wonder why people are of the mindset that if Tilikum or other captive orca were rehabilitated, it would fail, I mean if he is capable of learning a command I would think he'd be able to relearn to fish.

As well, with Tilikum being used for stud purposes, is that Seaworld's version of The Stepford Wives. Whales that is!

I believe the Government Agencies that deal with Marine Mammals seriously needs to MAN-UP and start the motion for their release, be it through rehabilitation or through net pens where with careful assistance, these and other captive members of the sea can experience what we as humans have kept them from. And not stopping there but with carrying forth a campaign to clean up the oceans. All that say they love these mammals, owe them that much.

The Seaworlds of the world have on the most part made their parks beautiful. But the intent was to please the patrons, not the performers...too bad. It is not the park that is beautiful, it is truly the mammals alone that hold the beauty!

Mary   March 2nd, 2010 9:45 am ET

On your show the former whale trainer (can't remember his
name, sorry) said we have learned so much about these orcas in captivity, of which he gave the example, "artificial insemination – so if the orcas were ever to go extinct, we could keep them successfully alive and breeding at Sea World."

Sorry, but this is such a ridiculous notion, and here's why...
... See More
If Sea World would spend their money on orca research in
their natural habitat and stop sending society the message that basically whales are here for our "entertainment" rather than to respect and protect in the wild, they would be PREVENTING the orca from extinction, of which, there would be no need for things like artificial insemination. That is the problem, they think ARTIFICIAL is okay when there is no need for it. Sea world should promote breeding in the WILD not captivity! That is the ONLY way to PREVENT extinction!

Ted Turner   March 2nd, 2010 10:11 am ET

Kelly – your points are very solid. If I may respond in order:
– You are correct. No captive bred Orca has been released into the wild as of yet. For the record Keiko (the Free Willy animal) was abandoned in Iceland prematurely (the U.S. refused to issue a permit for his release for logical reasons). Keiko was showing no behavioral indicators that he was prepared to survive and assimilate into an established pod and the behaviorists involved walked out when his release was insisted upon by the project executives. It was a poorly planned, poorly managed and non-scientific media stunt developed by a coalition of anti-zoo groups including HSUS, Earth Island Institute and Hollywood financiers. Keiko never ate on his own while following the currents to Norway and died 9 months after being abandoned. He was a poor candidate for release as an older adult male who remained dependent on humans. This certainly wasn't "successful".

A successful reintroduction requires the selection of an appropriate candidate that has a high chance of survival, is handled for this specific purpose (like we have seen in other successful release models such as Calif. Condors) and includes a strong follow-up and potential recapture plan should the animal show signs of distress.

– In the U.S., one must first demonstrate the biological need to release captive bred wildlife, such as imminent extinction. As you know, the Orca population worldwide is not threatened or endangered with healthy populations found in all oceans of the world. Secondly, one must conduct prior health studies on the existing population so that a full assessment of the impact this individual may have on the existing pods can be evaluated post-release. Third, candidate selection (such as an adolescent female) and handling protocols which encourage and develop behaviors appropriate to survival in the wild, not dependency on humans, must be considered. Fourth, a follow-up observation and data collection protocol must accompany any reintroduction. Finally, the world population of captive bred Orcas is currently very small and the genetic founder group is not yet large enough to simply experiment at this relatively early stage in understanding their reproductive and adaptation requirements post-release. A local pod is not going to welcome an outsider and instead will consider it a threat in most cases, challenging it aggressively. This needs to be mitigated to avoid unecessary injuries or death to the released animal.

– These animals simply ARE providing science with valuable information. The training you see in shows is only part of what happens. Many behaviors that are taught such as; ultra-sound, blood sampling, urine collection are all trained providing invaluable information to scientists that need control group studies and baseline information to compare to wild animals. For example, a healthy WBC can be compared to that of a wild or beached animal for better diagnostics and treatment. These findings have been published in many journals by some of the most renown marine mammal scientists. The list is long and the body of knowledge is growing.

– The scientific methods used are the same as those used during any study, i.e. observational studies, experimental design and biological sampling. This is no different than studying wild animals and publication of any study requires replication and peer review, which is why methods must be included in all scientific publications.

– I agree that these wild animals do teach us much, and parks like SeaWorld are much more than entertainment. They are teaching facilities for scientists, they have in-house laboratories that cooperate with local and federal agencies, they teach wildlife management to professionals and ocean conservation to millions of children which is why these programs are authorized by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act...simply because they recognize their contribution to the conservation of marine mammals. They contribute millions each year to serious conservation efforts and never boast about it. Sure they make money base on their business model, but non-profits also depend on money to operate and the cynicism pitting profit vs. non-profit is irrelevant. Thanks for the excellent and intelligent comments Kelly. Your points are well taken.

Barbara   March 2nd, 2010 11:30 am ET

I used to think Jack Hannah was a real animal advocate. Now he disgusts me. You can't love an animal unless you see it in person? How incredibly stupid. I always hated going to the zoo when I was a child, seeing a tiger pace its cement jail endlessly, seeing a polar bear suffering through a 90 degree day. Sea World shows just teach children to lose empathy for living things. That tired line about research is insulting to intelligent people everywhere. Jacques Cousteau's work was research that actually taught us about the oceans and its life. Animals shows are nothing more than voyeuristic entertainment at the expense of living creatures. To say, "well, we can't ask the animal if he's suffering" is another inane argument: if we cannot ask the animal how she feels or if captivity is ok with her, why not err in favor of nature? Somebody should put that corporate whale trainer in a pool for the next 30 years and make him do tricks for snacks, all the while telling him how much he is loved.
How about CNN doing a follow up on other trainers who are hurt or injured at these abusement parks, by the way?

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 11:50 am ET

@ jack

I was very lucky... I just graduated high school when I met John Lilly. I was not a researcher... but I was lucky enough to partake in 2 years of his research. We had dolphins in Kailua bay and we all would swim with them. It was a natural course for me to work with him. He was wonderful. He loved his beloved dolphins. I learned so much from him. He was thrown out of the science world as he

(1) Established the possibility that the bottle nose dolphin could be more intelligent than humans

(2) He wanted to share his LSD trip with the dolphins and gave his two dolphins LSD in which they swam to the bottom of the pool and drowned. It was noted that they committed suicide.

Dodie   March 2nd, 2010 12:02 pm ET

@ A. Smith, Oregon

Thank You. Thank You... Thank You!

Willie-Keiko was rehabed into the wild and had no problems surviving. The death was a lung disease most likely caught while in captivity!! These creatures are as intelligent as humans. Their language is as complex as ours. We just do not understand what they are saying. They have gifts the human race will never have, like echo location. Captivity is NO place for these majestic creatures.

Lenore Jones   March 2nd, 2010 1:15 pm ET

Jack Hannah has lost his mind. He keeps trying to dazzle us with his quick rhetoric while completely ignoring recent events, and the facts! His tactic, and his colleague the whale trainer, is to diparage and to just be rude in general to the opposition. Who does he think is going to buy his argument? The unwashed masses who enjoy having whale trainers slaughtered?

It's obviously not working to keep the killer whales in captivity. I am a National Aquarium member, and I love visiting quite a lot. Why continue to cover up the problems and not try to fix them. It's not being anthropomorphic to know that something is amiss with the Sea World system.

So Jack, instead of worrying about conforming DO SOMETHING to rectify the situation! If it means putting the whale in a preserve, then so be it! You are making PETA look really good. I'm sure that their membership has gone way up! I'm thinking about becomming a member now!

aj   March 2nd, 2010 1:19 pm ET

Jack Hannah really opened my eyes to the ignorance ivolved in animal circusry... He was silly. I asked my 12 year old if she learned anything about the animals while on a visit to seaworld and she said she was too busy watching their tricks. She learned more after all of this happened by reading. I have a hard time now believing that keeping the "killer" whales in confinement is helping in any way. They deserve their freedom in the vast wild that God made for them. I for one will not put any more money into Seaworld.

Suzanne   March 2nd, 2010 1:21 pm ET

It was hard to watch the whale trainer from Sea World make personal insults at the other two guests that didn't agree with him last night. He lost credibility and should have stuck to the subject and making his points heard. Not a good representation of Sea World. It was too bad because he has so many years of training experience and this is what I ended up thinking about after the show was over.

carol   March 2nd, 2010 1:26 pm ET

Something is wrong with Jack Hanna. He defends captivity for animals. On a previous show he defended shooting wolves from a helicopter. He defends horse racing.

I believe Jack Hanna secretly & now somewhat publically condones abuse of animals. How can anyone justify confining a wild animal for so called educational purposes. Gimme a break, who are we kidding. These animals at parks, in zoos, in circuses, or in horseracing are there to make money. Period.

Because of his stature, Jack Hanna could make a difference but instead he chooses to side with the abusers. How sad. I will never watch or trust him again.

ted turner go AWAY!   March 2nd, 2010 1:46 pm ET

ted turner is "an industry man" and will say whatever just to defend SW and other alike places. He sells dolphins left and right and has "intimate" and close connections with many shady swim with dolphins facilities which he supplies with animals. So, go away, dolphin dealer!

Elizabeth Canada   March 2nd, 2010 1:53 pm ET

Whales – 1
Jack Hanna and all he represents = a big fat 0.

P.S to my earlier comment. This story has put Seaworld and the like in rather a tough situation. These animals are worth a lot of money to the parks, possibly their insurance companies should be put on whale watch.

mary u from ohio   March 2nd, 2010 2:25 pm ET

IT was the Animal Activists that got Willy Free.........

jack   March 2nd, 2010 2:29 pm ET

I do not see a problem with zoos and confinement areas, providing they are large, have natural components, and the animals are treated humanely. This may be a good alternative , in many cases, where the species are near extinction. If species are very rare, they should be encouraged to breed in captivity, with an end toward their possible release into a natural habitat area.
If zoos charge for admission, that is reasonable. It costs a lot to feed , house and care for the animals. What I do question is the need for any tricks to be performed, for the ammusement of an audience. If the animals wish to play or act naturally, then that is a plus. They need not be induced to put on a performance.

Donald Cole, Dover NJ   March 2nd, 2010 2:47 pm ET

My response to Mary, 3/1 7pm:
Your reasoning doesn't seem to stand up. If SeaWorld were to stop doing what they do, and instead 'put their money elsewhere to help the whales', –than where would they get the money to do that? (?) –dc

ted turner=Ocean Embassy   March 2nd, 2010 3:43 pm ET

ted turner is not a trained scientist, he only has BS in psychology, which is basically nothing. His company, Ocean Embassy, tries to build a dolphinarium in Panama (as I write this) and they will be capturing dolphins there as well. In addition he was also involved in wild dolpins captures in Solomon Islands among many other places. And this individual has a nerve to come here and voice his support for the Sea World! This is an insult and travesty, please take all that he says with a grain of salt! And if you do not believe, google Ocean Embassy and Panama.

Mark Simmons   March 2nd, 2010 4:07 pm ET

In the course of this blog, I’ve seen remarkable claims about Keiko, the whales at Sea World, captivity, freedom and everything in between.

Fellow bloggers, I’ve spent 24 years working with killer whales, both in captive management and the wild…I was the Director of Husbandry responsible for the behavioral rehabilitation program for Keiko. In fact, it was my responsibility to draft the protocols approved by the Icelandic government for Keiko’s formal release.

In my experiences, there are basically three types of people of interest in this emotional debate. People who pay their ticket price to see the whales in parks like SeaWorld, people who pay their ticket price in the form of donations to groups like Humane Society of the United States, Earth Island and Ric Obarry in the name of the very same whales – and finally, people who do nothing. The fact of the matter is that these very animals we are so aggressively debating over – are the source of income for both sides of the issue.

I have the utmost respect for the sanctity of opinion; we are all given this important right in a free society. But please, I beg of you, verify information…base your opinion on facts and if you don’t know, then kindly be respectful for the life that was lost here. Regardless of what you may think, the people at SeaWorld love their animals dearly, they loved Dawn and Dawn loved the mission of what she was doing day in and day out.

Keiko was not a successful release. If you believe his death in the wild (yes, Keiko was an adult MALE killer whale) is equal to success, then so be it. Keiko never met seven out of the ten criteria required for successful and full release (outline in the formal release document). I witnessed Keiko following the prevailing current whenever allowed to wander freely on our open ocean walks…without the skill to navigate; he simply took the path of least resistance. If you use Google Earth USGS ocean currents, you will see that the northern currents of the Gulf Stream lead directly from Iceland to the shipping lanes off of Halsa, Norway. Keiko didn’t navigate to Norway, he ended up there…he was starved to the point of being in a compromised physiological state. His immune system was insufficient to fight off common bacteria. He immediately sought human interaction. He became sedentary and finally succumbed to pneumonia. This is a slow and awful way to perish. Keiko lived in this condition for his last year of life.

Now for my opinion: This is not a new debate and it won’t be settled tomorrow…as a zoological professional, the very aspect that so many people care enough to get mad is absolute evidence that parks like SeaWorld are accomplishing their mission. Ask yourself why you care. For those of you who have the privilege, maybe you have seen them in the wild and that’s wonderful, but for the majority of our society, zoos and aquariums are the only means to experience the majesty of these animals.

Do they make money? Absolutely – and they need to. Profit is not a dirty word…trace every dollar Ric Obarry has received back to its origin and it came from profitable companies or people that work for profitable companies. Profit driven companies spend more money on research and conservation than HSUS, Earth Island and Rick Obarry combined. More people visit zoos and aquariums in the United States every year than all of professional sports combined. AND – it is the profit driven zoos and aquariums that provide the best care for their animals – because they can afford it.

I knew Dawn, as a colleague and as a friend. I find it morally reprehensible that these radical groups are using this opportunity to get their name in the press at Dawn’s expense. They claim they can release Tilikum, yet when they attempted to release Keiko they called in zoological professionals like me because they simply did not possess the experience. When animals are beaching and dying – it is the money from parks like SeaWorld and the people that respond – because they have the experience and the money to do so. When the United States government responds to Unusual Mortality Events off our coasts – it is zoological professionals and institutions that are called to assist.

I worked with Tilikum in Victoria, BC and at SeaWorld for three years there. He is not a crazy animal. I have played with him, done shows with him and spent hours building my relationship with Tili. Think about it, if he was “crazed” from captivity – would his trainers even be able to get close to him? In fact, it is the very aspect of how well adapted Tilikum is that allowed the proximity that contributed to this tragedy. As uninteresting as it may be, Tilikum got a hold of something novel in his environment and reacted like a three year old child that just got its hands on the cookie jar…it’s just that simple. Tilikum is unique compared to all the other SeaWorld animals in one very important way. Every whale in SeaWorld is taught from a very early age how to treat a person in the water – they are taught “physical manners” through positive reinforcement techniques. Tilikum NEVER had this…he was never taught the limits of human frailty. This was not premeditated, it was not sinister and it was not crazed aggression toward his trainers.

Tilikum is where he needs to be and his every need is exceeded. But if you take him out of shows, you are removing one of the most positive interactions in his day. In effect, you are punishing him.

I understand this is sensational…and I understand this has captured the nation’s attention…but please respect Dawn by at least engaging in fact based discussion and understanding that we all love the whales…no one has exclusivity on that.

Julie Scardinana   March 2nd, 2010 4:23 pm ET

Watch movie "Dolphin dealer" online about wild dolphins captures, you will never ever swim or touch a dolphin at the aquarium again. Google "dolphin dealer"

Ocean Embassy   March 2nd, 2010 4:30 pm ET

Ask ted turner about his company : ocean embassy which builds new dolphinarium in Panama despite public protests. Turner will be capturing wild dolphins in Panama and use them in swim with dolphins programs as well as for sale to other places like Sea World.

Donna   March 2nd, 2010 4:40 pm ET

How come Ric O'Barry had no problems cashing the checks he was given while training all those dolphins??? Does he donate any residuals he may get if these shows are re-aired, to dolphin and/or whale charities???, and if you release these orcas now, how long before they die, out in the open ocean, with no idea what to do???

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 5:52 pm ET

Sea world funds several conservastionist organizations as well as research. So the notion that they take all the profit and don't put it back is untrue. They make a profit. So What? Why would it bother anyone if they are funding research, conservation, etc by using there profit... People have the notion that if the company makes a profit there bad. Alot of organizations make a profit. That is america. Non profit doesn't mean they are all good either. And a non profit would charge money also cause it takes money to take care of these animals, to pay for the trainers, park workers, electricity, etc... to run the buisness and they usually don't make enough to fund other organizations.

Also trainers don't teach them new tricks. The tricks (Behaviors is what its called) they perform is what they do in the wild. They only teach them to do them on command which isn't inhumane at all. There is also a positive reward factor involved which any type of training entails. The trainers also bond with the orcas and they earn there trust. Thats why trainers are assigned to certain orcas and must work with them and get there trust before they go into the water with them. So I don't think there isn't anything inhumane. Its the places in other countries not affiliated with Sea World that gives animal captivity a bad name. They mistreat animals so everyone gets the blame.

And saying that anyone can see orcas in the wild and they don't have to be in captivity is bull crap and that they should send a submarine out to see them. First off they migrate. There found in Iceland, Alaska, Newfoundland. Pods are hard to find. My mom was on a cruise to alaska and didn't see one orca and they hadn't even migrated yet south. First off I don't have the money to travel the world. Its easier for me to go somewhere in the states because its much cheaper. Im not rich by any means but can afford a ticket to Sea World. And if they implamented a submarine idea the cost of seeing them would sky rocket and would definitly be very unaffordable and will only be for the wealthy.

I know personally I was inspired and learned so much from going to sea world when I was young. It inspired me to read more books, reasearch them more and have more respect for sea life. So there is an education value and also an entertainment value. People like me like the entertainment value with the education instead of a boring lecture without it. It doesn't inspire me as much.

Its tragic this happened and people have to find blame but Sea World opened in 1964 and expanded and obviously haven't had a problem bringing in thousands of people each year. So If you don't like sea world you must not like zoos (make a profit and also does entertainment) and aquariams (make profit and entertainment). So if your going to demonize Sea World for there actions then you have to demonize them all.

Also Dawn died what she loved doing and she made the mistake of getting to close. She new of the dangers of her job and accepted them. For everyone to demonize sea world is disregarding her death. Im glad we have these places so my daughter can see animals from all over the world and learn about them when her parents can't afford taking her there in the natural habitat.

Mark Simmons=Ocean Embassy   March 2nd, 2010 5:58 pm ET

Mark Simmons works for Ocean Embassy too and catches wild dolphins for living. All these dolphin dealers rushed to post because if there will be no marine parks they will be out of work!!! Please before you even read their long comments realize who they are!!!MArk Simmons is not a scientist either, he has a BS in business administration (!!!! very appropriate, lmao) from the University of Central Florida.

Mark Simmons=Ocean Embassy   March 2nd, 2010 6:02 pm ET

Mark Simmons workd for Ocean Embassy too, he catches wild dolphins for living and he is one of Tirner's partners building dolphinarium in Panama. Please before reading these people's long posts realize who they are! They rushed to post on these blogs because if there will be no marine parks they will have no job. Mark Simmons is not a trained scientist either, he has a BS in business administration (!!! very appropriate, lmao) from the University of Central Florida.

Stacy L.   March 2nd, 2010 6:10 pm ET

Please stop saying that Sea World and other places support research and conservation; it just shows that you have no clue of what is going on and a member of gullible public. If you try to search peer-reviewed journals you will see that no respectful research comes from the places like Sea World. All they do is artificial insemination to have more whales and blood tests to see when females are receptive! It looks like the more humans "love" something the worse this something is.
Lets just not love these poor marine mammals to death!

Also please do realize who some posters on this blog are, just google their names (turner, simmons).

Barbara   March 2nd, 2010 6:14 pm ET

OK- who else here thinks that Jennifer R is a Sea World employee? I think the bad spelling and grammar are just to make her look "real", but why would any normal person defend Sea World so vehemently for their greed , and talk about how it's too expensive for her to see animals in their natural habitats but make a point of noting that she finds Sea World affordable?
This argument that the Sea World hacks (like Hannah) make that "we bring in thousands of people every year" justifies barbarism to them somehow. The people want it so it must be good!
If you need to see animals tormented in order to inspire a curiosity about them in their natural state, shame on you.

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 6:16 pm ET


In the world of intelligent people, the word PROPAGANDA is SYNONIMUS with lying.

Where did you learn to be such an incredible "PROPAGANDIST"

Are you employed at Sea World.

How much were you paid to spew your propoganda B.S. on the subject matter of this blog??

Surely you know that most intelligent folks that read this blog know that you are a "PROPOGANDIST "

AFROCENTRIK ASIATIK BLAK MAN   March 2nd, 2010 6:28 pm ET


Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 6:51 pm ET

@Ted Turner.

I dont know if you are the Ted Turner, that once was thought of as the most brilliant entrepeneurs in America when you had the guts and tenacity to take on the big Media Networks when you introduced the Turner News Network, which later became CNN after which time you sold your major holdings in CNN to pursue other corporate interests that you are still involved with.

If you are, and if you want your great legacy to go on, please pay attention to this information.

The destruction of CNN has begun, because of a lack of security and effective management techniques you have allowed people in the decision making process of CNN to demolish your dream.

The dismissal of "KEY" personnel in your news room, the dismissal of "KEY" anchor personnel and be replaced with people who could not handle that position even in a small localized T.V. station, is unquestionably the road to disaster.

I have been a loyal viewer of CNN since it's inception, but due to the incredibly unbelievable decisions being made by your senior management people, I can only assume that they are taking a pay-off from your competitor, FOXY the FOX to dismantle your dream "ONE PIECE AT A TIME"


Donna O'Hara-Jaquith   March 2nd, 2010 7:01 pm ET

This issue is as old , if not older, than "King Kong"'s story line. Now for some first hand facts. In the years 1983 to 1986 I ran an essay contest for 4th graders to recall a fun and memorable time they had had with a grandparent or older person. The winner won a behind the scenes tour of the Hubbs Research Institute which had affiliated itself with Sea World in Mission Beach/San Diego Calif. The pure scientists associated with the Hubbs Research Institute had real issues with the Sea World environment and Sea Worlds claims of being a marine science driven entity. Hubbs idea was you don't have animals repeatedly performing tricks for entertainment....and then say you are a research driven business. Good grief, those "scientist"s that work for Sea World etc., and keep stating that we all just don't seem to "get it" , that we have to put enormous animals in a fish bowl so that we can learn to appreciate and love them...need to watch the old 1930's movie "King Kong" ...It looks like we all used to get it.Some scientists will read statistics to favor those that sign their paychecks and don't want to bite the hand that feeds them i.e., Sea World. Well, it looks like Orca whales etc., are truly on their own and they will bite the hand that feeds them.

Wrong ted turner   March 2nd, 2010 7:10 pm ET

but he is also evil!

So?   March 2nd, 2010 7:48 pm ET

@ Mr. Simmons

There is nothing to spin; you are a dolphin dealer, period. You build and promote places which keep captive marine mammals.

Just curious though...where are you going to get dolphins to populate your for-profit dolphinarium in Panama?

And please, do not even try to bring in "The Cove" into this debate....millions have seen it and it speaks for itself. But of course, for the dolphin dealer it is not a big deal...the capture scenes will make any normal human shiver, but not you!

You are afraid that you will lose your job and you will, eventually ....because slowly but steadily the public opinion changes and you are being chased to the corners of the world with your aquariums. No new captive facilities have been opened in US or UK since 90s, so it is happening!

FYI, I am not with Peta, believe it or not 🙂

Mark Simmons...GO   March 2nd, 2010 7:50 pm ET

away! How do you even sleep at night?

jack   March 2nd, 2010 7:50 pm ET

No facts, just an opinion: whales and dolphins are fellow creatures and it is an abomination to exploit these noble creatures for a profit motive. The only justification for keeping a rare species, is to enable that species to survive in the insane, polluted world that humans have imposed on them. I don't buy into a pure profit motive in keeping the animals in captivity, nor do I think it is a good idea to have a widespread "swimming with the dolphins or whales, or fill in the blank" program simply for our amusement. Are these intelligent animals the new form of slavery, now that human slavery was , at long last, deemed dispicable?

Barbara   March 2nd, 2010 7:57 pm ET

Just saw the latest report on The Situation Room about Sea World coercing OSHA to remove language from their report that a death of a trainer was a matter of "When" not "If". People need to boycott these horrible places!

adambombxp5   March 2nd, 2010 8:04 pm ET

Are they going to do anything about it so stop the talking because there are people that talk and there are people that take action. Which are they?

jack   March 2nd, 2010 8:15 pm ET

There is no valid reason to have shows where animals are exploited and trainers are put in danger , simply for the amusement of people who need to get their kicks from artificial circus shows, rather than just admiring the beauty and wonder of fellow creatures. If you need to somehow "humanize" the animals, then I think you should change your priorities. Are we getting so jaded we cannot appreciate the animals unless they are performing or somehow doing cute tricks for their human "masters?"

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 8:16 pm ET

@Barbara and Gerald Jolly
Oh so demonize other people because they have different views than you. Thats real appropiate and mature.

No Im not an employee of Sea World. I am a mother that is an Air Force Veteran disabled from the war and have a precious 2 year old in Colorado. So I do take offense to that because instead of thinking "IM NOT A REAL PERSON" thats offensive. Yes I am a real person with real opinions.

So you say Im a propagandist huh? And also saying that there isn't intelligent people on here. Well I don't believe I had said that if my comments in anyway offended you or you took it personally offensive than I apologize. I won't apologize for the fact that I stated my opinion and its for some agenda. And why would I lie? What reason would I have for lying. And have you checked my information. This is my point of view and if you don't like it than you don't have to listen to it. Just like each and everyone of you have views. Also things stated are true. If I stated things about the company well I researched them as well. I like to hear the facts for myself instead of someones opinion and relying on that. And I like to state those facts if Im going to back something up. And for the bad grammer and spelling. Well thats called a two year old sitting on my lap and lack of attention.

Lets see Sea world puts there profit into conservation efforts. That is true. Look it up yourself if you don't believe me. They give grants out for funding research according to their website and at there parks. They fund species research, animal rescue and rehabilitation, habitat protection, conservation education and have won numeourous awards too. According to a couple of websites Sea World is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which means they have met or exceeded the standards in education, conservation, research.

That Sea World must be doing well since they first opened in 1964 and have 4 sea worlds in total. Thousands of people come each year. So thats not a lie. The people that go to sea world must not object to what sea world is doing. But I could be wrong. Maybe people like to put there money into a organization that they don't believe in.

And also that its more affordable for me to see sea life at Sea World than it is to go there natural habitat. I can get a very cheap plane ticket to texas since Im in colorado. The cost of a ticket is 60.00 for adults for a single day and 50.00 for a child. Same price if I wanted to go to six flags theme park or skiing. Now the cost to get an airline ticket to see them in there natural habitat is going to cost alot more. According to an Orca information site they are most predominately found near the continental shelves of japan, iceland, norway, North American Pacific Northwest, Iceland, Norway, Scotland, and antartica and some off of washington, British Columbia, Alaskan coasts but those orcas are transiant so seeing them is not going to be 100% of the time and also the time of year depicts when you will see them there. Well an international flight would costs in the thousands and a ferry out to the ocean in the hundreds. So yes there is a cost savings and I can go anytime of the year.

There was a comment that I enjoy Barbarism. Which my understanding of the word from looking it up of course means "a non standard word, expression, or pronunciation in a language. Its related to the word Barbarian which means a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensative person according to the definition." Well personally I don't see the trainers and staff that way at all. I think they are very kind people at least the one I met. I feel sorry for the trainer that died because you must of felt she was barbaric. Thats pretty mean to a person you don't even know and who loved animals. And I have seen how they train the animals because I followed a trainer for the day when I was younger because when I was younger my interest was to be an animal trainer and I wanted to see what options where out there. They were playing with the dolphins and orcas and they seemed to me to enjoy it. They were getting fed and taken care of. And great medical care also. So tell me what is so barbaric about that. I have even seen tv specials on where staff from Sea World goes out to help and rehabilitate injured sea life. But thats my opinion. Im also an animal lover and donate to various organizations and rescues. I own to dogs that are a part of my family and get taken care of very well. I also volunteer my time for organizations and rescues because of my passion to help animals.

And it wasn't I lie that I was inspired to learn more about sea life from going to sea world when I was younger. It was a wonderful experience that my family took me at least 4-5x. And as an adult I have been there three times and still enjoy it. I like the entertainment value becuase it is amazing to see, The trainers do not teach them new tricks according to theirs and various websites. They only use the behaviors that they would do in the wild and put a command on it so they do those behaviors on demand. And they always have a positive reward system with food.

But for all those that feel I have an agenda with this. I don't. I have nothing to gain or lose from stating my opinion. I just want my opinion to have facts and its your judgement if you want to take those facts and research yourself rebute those facts.

Im glad there are places out there that I can see and learn about animals around the world and Im glad my daughter has that opportunity also.

Jennifer R please..   March 2nd, 2010 8:22 pm ET

cut it out! I got tired just by looking at your post, let alone reading it.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 8:33 pm ET

JENNIFER R@ Best of luck to your disabled husband and your family. Don't you think that children who view the animals without doing human-like acts can be more valuable than them seeing them performing for profit? Perhaps you may have been just as much inspired without seeing the animals doing tricks. The fact that they are doing things they may do in the wild is not valid. The fact is they are being coerced into performing at places like Sea World. A slave may well do things that are "natural" when they are compelled to work for their masters. The important thing is are they doing the labor for their own reasons or are they forced to do them, at the whim of others.

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 8:41 pm ET


So you think that it is appropriate for a "WOULD BE CONSEVATIONIST" to wear a HAT made from the skin of an endangered animal Hu!

You compound your prpoganda by admitting that you pay $60 dollars for yourself and $50 for your child to go to Sea World for a one day pass, it has also been stated by JACK-THE-HAT-HANNA that more than 30 million people visit Sea World every year.


$60 dollars times 30 million people= $ 1.8 billion dollars.

But that's not for profit Hu!

I feel sorry for your accident during your military service, is that when you learned the art of "PROPOGANDA"??

And about opportunity for you and your daughter.

Save yourself some money and tune in to the dozens of fantastic nature prgram that are made available for everyone to appreciate nature in the wild.

You might learn something more that "PROPOGANDIST REHTORIC"


JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 8:47 pm ET

Actually Im the one disabled from the war my husband isn't but still in the military. Well Sea World has both animals that perform and animals that don't perform. My personal opinion is that my child seeing either or is valuable either way. What ever inspires my child as long as there not prodding them with a stick to do tricks, starving them and treating them bad than I don't have an issue with my child learning from that. If I could afford to see them in the wild they would be performing the same way. I know I was inspired by there beauty, strength and intelligence and not because they could perform on demand. I like that I was able to see what they do in the wild instead of swimming around and around. I respect the animal on how magnificient they are. Just like zoos here in Denver. They have elephant rides and shows that show them performing. The animals were not injured in any way and if an animal didn't want to perform than the animal didn't have to. I know sea world functions that way also. Its up to the animal. So they make a profit. Its america. But they use there profits to put back into these animals. They have done alot of good an awareness and thats why I respect what they do. But thats my opinion about it.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 8:56 pm ET

@Ted Turner... What a priviledge to be on same forum as a super rich, and important person as yourself. It is extremely rare , if you are THE Ted Turner, that we commoners get to mingle (even marginally) with your kind. I tend to think you are the real Ted Turner , or CNN would not have assigned you the name. The fact that you are obviously quite intelligent and well informed about dolphins further bolsters your claim. From what you have stated, you are obviously a caring person, but you are also very much into the profit motive. You do have a dog in this fight. What I , and perhaps other people here, would like to know is what is your true motive; concern for the welfare of the creatures or making money. It is obvious what the answer should be. What is the real answer? And, are you the real Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, or just used that name?

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 9:03 pm ET

@Gerald Jolly
Excuse me! My accident while I was serving in the war to protect all of you didn't make me a propogandist. And please have a little respect here. I have alot of respect for the military since my husband is still serving. Also to be a propogandist I have to have some agenda. Well tell me whats my agenda? And because I purchase tickets to Sea World that makes me one. Hmm I thought that just makes me a consumer. I don't profit on anything here or for purchasing a ticket. Also I do watch nature shows also but also enjoy seeing the real thing. Thats why I go to zoos, aquariums, animal sanctuarys also. But I don't feel Im a bad person for going to those places and thats what matters.

No   March 2nd, 2010 9:03 pm ET

he is not that ted turner! He is another ted turner and it is his real name! He is a dolphin dealer and he tries to open a new dolphinarium in Panama!

No spin zone   March 2nd, 2010 9:09 pm ET

@ Mr. Simmons

Really, there is nothing to spin; you are a dolphin dealer, period. You build and promote places which keep captive marine mammals.

Just curious though...where are you going to get dolphins to populate your for-profit dolphinarium in Panama?

And please, do not even try to bring in "The Cove" into this debate....millions have seen it and it speaks for itself. But of course, for the dolphin dealer it is not a big deal...the capture scenes will make any normal human shiver, but not you!

You are afraid that you will lose your job and you will, eventually ....because slowly but steadily the public opinion changes and you are being chased to the corners of the world with your aquariums. No new captive facilities have been opened in US or UK since 90s, so it is happening!

jack   March 2nd, 2010 9:10 pm ET

JENNIFER R@ So it is all about making profits? You, as far as I am concerned, let the cat out of the bag. Tax supported zoos and aquariums, where the emphasis is toward preservation and furthering appreciation and knowledge is one thing, private for-profit businesses that make outrageous profits while possibly exploiting creatures is another thing altogether. Why do you always insist on the performances? This tends to weaken your argument that you are simply for educating children.

Barbara   March 2nd, 2010 9:13 pm ET

I have loved marine mammals since I saw my first Jacques Cousteau documentary when I was a child. I have read books and seen photos of them in the wild and my awe and admiration deepened. I have never seen one in real life. I would never go to a circus at Sea World (or any circus for that matter) just to see an incarcerated animal for my own pleasure.
Jack Hannah is right, and so is Jennifer. Thousands of people pay over a billion dollars each year to view this unnatural, inhumane travesty. And that will always win the argument. It was the same argument that kept human slavery a part of the American story: profit. It's not the profit itself that is the evil here. It is the fact that profit trumps humanity and compassion for other living beings. Always has, always will.

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 9:16 pm ET


You came back from whatever theatre you were assigned too, However, you came back

I dont like to discuss my military carreer, but in the two tours that I served in Vietnam, I saw dozens of my buddies die, "BLOWN TO BITS" so dont flaunt your military service on this blog, it's not appropriate nor is it what an honorable military person would do.

By the way, you most certainly did not protect me, unless that is just more propaganda that the current military is spewing about fighting an illegal war to protect American citizens.

JENNIFER R   March 2nd, 2010 9:24 pm ET

I didn't say that its all about profits. I said that if they make a profit it doesn't bother me. If they didn't it wouldn't bother me. Its america. And that is your views on Sea World. I just have a different opinion. My personal opinion on educating children with performances is what I see in my child and other children I know. People can still learn while being entertained.

@ Barbara – You were inspired that way. I was inspired another way. We both have different views and I respect your views and in no way said that was wrong. I just put facts on my views and you can rebute those facts or just plain ignore them. Im not here to win an argument here just state my opinion with facts without berating others.

Everyone can disagree with me which is fine but if you can come back to me trying to change my personal view try changing it with FACTS! that state the validty of your opinion. I just hear personal opinions without any facts backing it up.

jack   March 2nd, 2010 9:28 pm ET

@Gerald Jolly...I agree, While Jennifer may have went to the front and may have been disabled (and I am truly sorry if she was injured and disabled) the Bush wars were bogus , evil wars to promote the corporate- military elitist rule. While many well meaning people got sucked up into the lies and served in that conflict, they should be quite aroused by the fact that they were mislead and used on behalf of the rich, such as D. Cheney , who received 5 deferments , but is now a hawk when it comes to sending our countreymen into bogus conflicts. It is also very telling that he endorses torture. What a hero he is!

Tia Tristen   March 2nd, 2010 9:56 pm ET

Hey, No Spin Zone –

What planet are u from! Have u heard of Discovery Cove, Georgia Aquarium? Isn't Bermuda part of the U.K.? Don't they have dolphins?? How about Cayman Islands??? maybe British Virgin Islands???? Let's see...yep they have dolphins!! And all developed since 1990. Nice geography lesson dude!! Hope ya don't get dizzy!!!

jack   March 2nd, 2010 9:57 pm ET

@JENNIFER R. You seem to be very committed to the idea that 1) the institution should make a big profit and 2) there should be performances. For these two reasons , I am inclined to side with those who feel you are promoting for profit exploitaion of these beautiful creatures. Why is it so important for you to prop up the profit motive here? Why must animals put on a show for you and your family to get their jollies?

Todd   March 2nd, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Thank you for the information. I did a bit of research on your claims and was able to substantiate almost all of it. Regardless of what side of the issue you're on, it's nice to see a straight approach relying on facts. The name calling and conjecture gets old quick.

No spin zone   March 2nd, 2010 10:16 pm ET

@ Todd

Hey we all know your position, so there is no real need for you to read any additional info, you will support dolphin dealers regardless. Have you seen the Cove?

Tia Tristen   March 2nd, 2010 10:40 pm ET

Hey No Spin Zone!! So what u r saying is that "reading is bad"?? Brilliant?? We should listen to JUST U!! LOL!!!!

No spin zone   March 2nd, 2010 10:43 pm ET

@Tia Tristen

No I am saying that none of you will ever change your mind:reading or not! You will only read stuff which "supports" your twisted beliefs that sitting in a concrete tank for 30 years is perfectly fine and the whale might have even enjoyed it. Now this is plain twisted sick!

Tia Tristen   March 2nd, 2010 10:53 pm ET

NSZ – Chill dude - don't go postal!

Todd   March 2nd, 2010 11:05 pm ET

once're facts and angle are completely incorrect. I appreciate your emotional connection to the subject matter...the only thing we have in common...but the cheap shots and name calling lack substance. I appreciate Ted and Mark having an intelligent and real debate on the subject. And what does the cove have to do with anything...Ric O is an activist for hire and the Cove is a prefect example of twisting the truth (aka-lying) to support his philosophical position...oh yea, and to make him lots of money.

Tia Tristen   March 2nd, 2010 11:09 pm ET

Hey NSZ – after you take a pill and relax...r u a whale mind reader or did the whale tell u what he likes??? We r all dying to know!

Todd   March 2nd, 2010 11:15 pm ET

I think you scared NSZ off. It's OK for NSZ to name call and have an opinion (even if it can't be substantiated in any way)...but heaven forbid anyone else have a different opinion. My only child...and she held her breath until he/she passed out to get his/her way.

Todd   March 2nd, 2010 11:18 pm ET

By the way way NSZ...the "stuff" that supports my belief is also known as the facts.

Gerald Jolly   March 2nd, 2010 11:36 pm ET

@ Jack.

By her own admission JENNIFER R. was not wounded in combat, she says clearly that she had an accidents.

Shooting oneself in the foot is not wounded in action, it is an accident which most military personnel will agree, is a way to get shipped back home.

Gerald Jolly   March 3rd, 2010 12:23 am ET

Good night all.

I leave you with one thought to ponder.

Is it possible to believe a man that would wear a hat made from the skin of an endangered animal, that he claims to be an inviromemtalist and protector of animals in the wild???

I for one do not believe JACK-THE-HAT-HANNA is an animal advocate.

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 12:41 am ET

Do u wear shoes? No diff dude....Duh

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 9:01 am ET

To debate with you @todd et al., is like to debate with a wall. When someone says "the Cove is a prefect example of twisting the truth" it just leaves you in awe and there is really nothing to say/add.

Gerald Jolly   March 3rd, 2010 9:43 am ET

@ Tia Tristen.

Yes I wear shoes, and they are made from the leather of meat producing cattle.

I guess you take great pride in the alligator skin shoes, and purse, you use hu!

You see, they are part of our food chain.

The CAMON is not, and never has been.

But then again who on earth would think that a moron like JACK-THE-HAT-HANNA would ever know any better.

Or you.

Gerald Jolly   March 3rd, 2010 9:47 am ET

@ Tia Tristan

Please do not pretend that you are intelligent.

Any idiot knows that humans and oOrcas can communicate in their own way.

Using a cattle prod on an animal will make it do just about anything you want it to do.

It's an instrument much like you use, for self gratification.

Lenore Jones   March 3rd, 2010 10:06 am ET

I read Mark Simmons entry. I watched Jack Hanna on Anderson Cooper again last night. I watched the Today Show's expose on the Sea World saga.

Mark Simmons states that this issue is being spurred on mainly by fringe groups. Is The Today Show a fringe environmental group?

If and when are the trainers going to get back in the water with Tilly? Is Mark Simmons going to do it? Did any of the trainers actually jump in and try to pry Dawn from the jaws of the whale, or did they just use the nets?

It seems like something with the show has to change at Sea World. The denial of this seems to be a slap in the face to anyone with any common sense. So posters like Mark Simmons and Jack Hanna are just adding fuel to the fire.

I actually felt sorry for Jack Hanna on Anderson C. last night. He seems to be unraveling. He really does seem to care for animals, but he can't seem to let go of his old ideaology. Maybe it's time to see things differently.

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 11:18 am ET

Lenore Jones (compliments on the courage to state your name):

No, the shows you mention are not fringe groups and are not party to this discussion beyond that of being a “mode of communication”. They sell sensationalism. The fringe groups I referenced (although those are your words, not mine) are Ocean Futures, HSUS (which by the way is not a sanctioned US government organization), Earth Island, PETA and Ric Obarry.

In regard to your reference to Tilikum, the trainers never got in the water with Tili, he was never taught waterwork with his trainers. This has much to do with the events of this tragedy. Had Tilikum been taught waterwork, this tragedy would not have happened. Unfortunately, Tilikum came from a non-SeaWorld park that did not teach their animals how to relate to the frailty of humans in the water, they did not teach him “physical manners”. When SeaWorld received Tilikum, he was already an adult whale and had a history of participating in a trainer’s death in Victoria. The risks to teach him waterwork at that stage were too great. Had SeaWorld not taken this animal from Sealand of the Pacific when they did, his fate may have been very different. This fact is the single most influential factor behind what happened last week and would not have occurred had it been any other SeaWorld whale. Your reference to get “back” into the water with Tilikum is incorrect.

The groups I mentioned previously raise money on animal issues. They have a business strategy and economic indicators of where donation drives succeed. They receive more donation dollars with the least cost of marketing on captive dolphin and captive whale issues than any other single animal issue. They don't make much money talking about the nearly 300,000 dolphins that die every year in by-catch fisheries. Do you really believe they want parks like SeaWorld to go away? These parks are their biggest money makers. This tragedy plays right into their formula. I worked within two of these organizations; I know the business model well.

Yes, SeaWorld also makes money. The primary difference is that SeaWorld takes an “active” approach to conservation and the radical groups I’ve mentioned take a “hands off” approach to conservation. They believe that simply putting a fence around something is the best way to preserve it. I believe the current state of our oceans is undeniable proof that that strategy does not work. Education without “emotional” motivation does not bring change. Well run zoological parks like SeaWorld add a strong emotional tie that engages people (point in case: this blog).

When the oceans are clean of synthetic hormones, heavy metals, toxins, pesticides and man-made hazards (nets, wreckage, etc) and the fish resources are abundant AND human encroachment can be effectively controlled, then talk to me about release and we’ll debate the challenges of behavioral science. Until then, the proposition these groups make to release Tilikum is preposterous. They are simply making the sensational remarks to get in the press at the expense of Dawn, her family and the SeaWorld parks because it’s a perfect fund raising opportunity (straight out of their fund raising manual).

Keiko suffered unnecessarily at these groups hands, but don’t take my word for it, an official report was published to this effect by the Greenland Institute and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Interestingly, Keiko and Tilikum are roughly the same age. Only Keiko died prematurely at 27 and Tilikum is currently thriving at 32 and with no sign of the medical complications that plagued Keiko.

Where you do not know, I applaud your questions (although rhetorical in nature). Respecting the hard work of zoological professionals world-wide, I’m interested in intellectual and respectful exchange, not offensive insults and ignorant opinions.

Todd   March 3rd, 2010 11:49 am ET

Thanks Mark for the information. Very interesting. I didn't realize until this debate heated up that HSUS (which you mentioned) is not the same as the local animal shelter and also does not have a government affiliation. Kind of a misleading name, isn't it? I found out through some research that they have a $100 million budget; and less than one-half of one percent goest to hands-on pet shelters...while over $2.5 million goes to its own pension plans. I shared this some friends that I know donate regularly (based upon the heartwrenching commercials I'm sure you've seen on TV), and they felt pretty duped. Talking about exploitation.

jack   March 3rd, 2010 1:09 pm ET

Why don't they just ban trainers from putting on shows ,with the whales at Sea World? For those who insist on seeing performances, just get some videos of past performances. That would be more humane for the sea creatures, and would prevent more tragic deaths. Folks can still enjoy the beauty of the animals. Unless the whales become endangered, I do not think it is a good idea to confine them either. The whales which are already captive may be in danger , if released into the wild, however.

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 1:26 pm ET

Hellooooo Mr. Jolly - u need some serious therapy or maybe u r just overcompensating. Girls, just two words... "stranger danger"!!!!

Lenore Jones   March 3rd, 2010 1:29 pm ET

Mark thanks for addressing my post. I do appreciate that.
It's really quite ironic that all of the groups, parks and Associations that are supposed to care about animal welfare are really just a bunch of warring factions!

Yes, you are right about the second paragraph. I meant are the trainers going to want to continue their interaction with Tilly in any way? How far away from the whale, or side of the tank is safe enough?Are they going to get in the water with ANY of the whales during the show? Even if a whale has been "socialized" to interact with humans can the trainers be certain that they won't be harmed or killed? Is the public still going to attend enmasse? What about people with kids? Are they still going to bring them to the shows?

Do you think that on a subconscious level Dawn didn't really think that the whale would harm her? The head trainers watched her shows in the past, right? Why are they blaming her now for her own death? When the last trainer was injured in 2006, couldn't learning from that experience have prevented her death?

So nothing should be released back into the Ocean until it is restored to the pristine environment that it had been when Columbus set sail? What are all of the breeding programs for then? Are we trying to hoard creatures for the apocalypse?

I don't know anything about Keiko's plight? When was he released 70's or 80's? Haven't we learned anything since then with all of the research that Sea World has been doing? They must be doing research about integrating captive or injured, animals back into their natural habitat?

I'm a National Aquarium member and I also attend zoos and preserves regularly. I've been fortunate enough to travel abroad, and see many interesting environments. I 've actually never even thought about the plight of captive animals, etc. I think that this episode is going to peak the interest of a lot of average Janes like myself?

I'm bored, and stuck inside because I ahd nasal polyp surgery. If you find my post offensive or annoying feel free to ignore it!:)

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 1:40 pm ET

Gerald "Jolly" = Anger Management! LOL!!!!!

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 2:11 pm ET

Lenore, I appreciate your willingness to have an intelligent discussion. In the end, we may not agree on certain subjects or methods, but I respect your interest and approach. I’ll do my best to answer your questions with integrity (and my sincere apology for the length, but you’ve asked a lot of questions).

Your comment on “warring factions” is not far from the mark; however, membership in what I classify as “radical” groups is a very small number of the population (less than 2 million). In contrast, over 180 million people visit zoos and aquariums every year in the US alone. But…allow me to make an important distinction. Not all “activists” are fanatical or radical. There are some very serious and very important NGO’s out there that contribute to conservation. When founders of the groups I’ve mentioned in previous posts make statements like “the life of an ant and that of my child should be considered equal” and “if you don’t know the truth, make it up” or that animals are better off dead than in captivity – I consider that radical and ineffective.

As much as anyone may not like or understand that SeaWorld and other (key word) “quality” zoological institutions make money – just remember that at the same time, these groups I’ve talked about are “professional fund raising organizations”. They rely heavily on shocking the public into sending money. Note the “Donate Now” on every page of every one of their websites. Like it or not – it’s a business on both sides. Are there believers in the midst of these organizations? Sure…just don’t forget there’s a mechanism behind the proverbial curtain.

Yes, the trainer very much want to continue their interaction with Tili. They know and understand how important those interactions are to his well being. They provide stimulation in a myriad of ways from novel enrichment, positive environmental change, playtimes, learning new behaviors, physical exercise to social group changes and many others. Without this kind of interaction, Tili would be subjected to a very dull life indeed.

It is true that the wild is different from life at SeaWorld…but not in the ways “seem” obvious. First off, the size of the environment does not correlate with quality of life. This has been studied in many types of animals and people. Scientifically, there is no statistical relevance to the size of habitat to lifespan.

Quality of life depends more heavily on the quality of air, water, nutrition, access to social interaction, mental stimulation, sex, ability to interact with surroundings and physical stimulation or exercise. This includes both positive stress and negative stress…both are important to all living things. Ever wonder why people love horror movies?

In the wild, animals travel great distances because they have no choice. As fishing depletes our oceans, whales and dolphins are working harder and traveling further (and burning more calories) to obtain food. Animals with routine access to food stay within the geographical range of that food source. Ever see goldfish hang out only in the corner of the tank where they are fed consistently? Why does everyone hang out in the kitchen at parties?

The animals at SeaWorld and similar parks do not have to search for food, nor do they have to seek shelter from weather or predators. That means that a “normal” source of stimulation is lacking from their lives…and trainers must fill that gap with other sources of stimulation. In stark contrast, instead of seeking food for hours each day, Tilikum and his social group spend hours interacting with trainers. Shows are an important part of this life…they are exercise, they are unpredictable, they are incredibly positive for the animals and they are the most impactful on the people watching.

How far away from the whale or side of the tank is safe enough?
That is a judgment call that must be based on experience. As I mentioned earlier, if Tilikum had been trained on waterwork like all the other SeaWorld animals, proximity would not be an issue. In his case, it is a known factor and one has to evaluate each situation based on knowledge of the animal, specifics of that interaction, other whales, people, environmental conditions, social influences and many other considerations.

SeaWorld puts an enormous amount of time into maintaining what’s called “water desense”. Basically, all the whales (excluding Tilikum) see so many variations of people in the water with them that it’s no big deal. In fact, I have rehearsed accidentally falling in right on top of a passing whales head…the whales were reinforced for ignoring me. But don’t think you can run off and jump in the pools at SeaWorld, the whales do recognize individuals and they have well developed relationships with the trainers – not guests.

I hope I’m not boring you. I will continue this in a subsequent post and keep it shorter.

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 3:23 pm ET

Please folks, realize who you are talking to! Mark Simmons runs the group which captures wild dolphins and builds dolphinariums in the developing countries. He has his own agenda and as much as Hanna, Lacinak, Turner and Co will tell you anything just to protect his business. Please, people, realize that these people have huge interest (monetary) in this issue, unlike me for example who (believe it or not) is not associated with any of animal rights groups. Even though Mr. Simmons might sound reasonable (at times) he nevertheless has an agenda and this agenda is to protect his business and improve the public opinion which went haywire after the death at the Sea world. Bycatch example is very common and is also routinely used by Navy saying that more dolphins are dying in as bycatch compared to their sonar.

Please realize that these people have a list of "bullet points" which they repeat in any discussion. This list was developed in a smart way and may appeal to some members of the public who is not that familiar with this issue.

Here are the bullet points and if you'll keep track you'll see that all these folks use them!
1. Zoos and Aquariums are for education and conservation and to see animals up close
2. Trainers/keepers love their animals and live out their childhood "dream"
3. Wild is a dangerous place (!) and animals are better off captive.
4. In Solomon Islands natives kill dolphins for their teeth. Why don't we come there and sell these dolphins to the aquariums around the world?
5. New dolphinarium in Panama will bring money to the country, so why should we care for a dozen dolphins we will catch?
6. Bycatch is a bigger issue that captivity or Navy sonar
7. Sea World and co rescues animals

And so on and so forth.

Now as Mr. Simmons and Mr. Turner what is a market price for a dolphin? Beluga? Killer whale?

I can tell you that it is not 100 dollars. Now ask these gentlemen how much small swim-with-dolphins program somewhere in a warm place can bring over 1 year? Not a 1000 dollars either.

So as long as BIG money are involved in this business, there will be no honest discussion and we will be stuck with these "bullet points" which are carefully orchestrated.

Mr. Simmons is not in a business of setting up deer farms, which by definition are not profitable. His business is highly profitable enterprise which feeds into weird human fascination with dolphins/whalers. If Mr. Simmons was a member of non-profit organization working to save endangered Afgan wobbler (nobody would pay to see this bird), I would listen to what he and Co have to say. But this is not the case!

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 3:32 pm ET

Lenore – part II
Are they going to get into the water with ANY of the whales during the show?

Yes, SeaWorld has stated that they will be getting back in the water once a full investigation into their safety protocols is complete and necessary changes are implemented. And in my opinion, they should. It is far better for these animals to know waterwork than not…Tilikum is a case in point…but also because waterwork is an important variety in their daily enrichment.

Even if a whale has been “socialized” to interact with humans can the trainers be certain that they won’t be harmed or killed?

Simple answer: no. But can you be sure you won’t be killed the next time you get in a car?

That may sound trite…hold on and allow me to elaborate. They are animals…like people; they are subject to many influences on their behavior. The number one influence in most cases is the trainer. By design, trainers have enormous influence on the animals due to the nature of their relationship – something that (as a trainer) you invest in every day in every way you can. In 99.9% of all cases of trainers getting hurt by a whale – it is human error. This is why experience is so important and why SeaWorld puts so much emphasis on its trainers knowing behavioral science inside and out. It’s why they keep immense records of every interaction, why they track, trend and anticipate. It’s why they have teams assigned to each animal (ten heads are better than one). All these mechanisms are there to make certain that each animals needs are met every day, but also to provide safe interactions. As humans, we make mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes result in accidents. No trainer is perfect every day all day. However, in over 40 years with killer whales, this is the first time a trainer has been killed in a SeaWorld park. It’s not a perfect record, but it’s pretty darn impressive. Cost/benefit? There are millions of people walking around out there that have seen a killer whale first hand and that have been changed by it.

One last note on shows…I believe wholeheartedly that doing shows is important to fulfill the mission of “emotional engagement” and education. Here’s why: If I show you sting ray’s in a pristine exhibit – or even in the wild, I’m sure you’d find it fascinating and enjoy the experience. But what if I showed you those same sting rays performing in an amazing orchestrated presentation responding to a trainer and doing complex trained maneuvers in time with music and lighting? I’ve seen this, and to answer my own question – it makes you realize they are not just some dumb fish, but rather an amazing creature capable of things well beyond our first impressions. It becomes lasting. On a much grander scale, this short example has been the plight of killer whales in our society.

Is the public still going to attend enmasse? What about people with kids? Are they still going to bring them to the shows?
Not to say that I like it or agree with it, but human nature is such that attendance will probably increase following this incident.
My kids have been around SeaWorld and my oldest understands what happened last week. We will attend SeaWorld again in the future as a family – and no, I will not worry for my child. SeaWorld in particular is the best at what they do for a reason. They pursue continual improvement; it is part of the organizational culture of an animal oriented business. I have no doubt whatsoever that they will assess this situation carefully, act responsibly and take every legitimate action to ensure that it never happens again. No, I am not worried about going to the show. Do you still fly American Airlines, Continental, Delta, United, US Air or Alaska Airlines? Like I said, SeaWorld is the best at what they do, trust that they will do their job.

Do you think that on a subconscious level Dawn didn’t really think that the whale would harm her?
Out of respect for the family and SeaWorld, there is not much I will say in this regard. It is up to SeaWorld to issue their formal assessment. Thereafter, we can exchange on their analysis. What I will say is that I do know that Dawn understood the whale she was working with…no one forgets Tilikum’s history or dismisses it.

The head trainers watched her shows in the past, right?
Yes. They are constantly reviewed by more experienced trainers. In fact, the constructive criticism in the training environment with large animals requires a thick skin. Many up and coming trainers leave because of the intensity of those review procedures.

Why are they blaming her now for her own death?
I do not know until I hear or see what SeaWorld is saying is the cause. From a common sense perspective, we all know something went wrong and that means a breakdown somewhere or a protocol that was needed. Again, I’ll respectfully await the official response before comment.

When the last trainer was injured in 2006, couldn’t learning from that experience have prevented her death?
This was an entirely different situation. The animal involved in the 2006 injury was waterwork trained. As I discussed earlier, Tilikum is not – and that’s significant. In regards to the 2006 incident, mistakes were made but protocols that were in place and behaviors (like desense and recalls) that are trained prevented that situation from being much worse. In effect, once the mistakes were already made and the whale was agitated, their safety system worked.

So nothing should be released back into the Ocean until it is restored to the pristine environment that it had been when Columbus set sail?
My point being that the wild is not the pristine “Finding Nemo” Disney-esk environment that most people like to think. I’ve been first hand witness to dolphins, whales, sea lions and other marine species with viral skin conditions, cancer, emaciation, fishing line entanglement, prop trauma, ingested garbage blockage and the list goes on. I was simply pointing out that Tilikum is in a healthier environment where he is now and that Keiko suffered because of the human perspective of the wild. It has long been a cornerstone argument of the “anti-captivity” industry that dolphins and whales don’t live as long in captivity. This is not true and now there is modern science and current marine mammal data that is proving captive dolphins are beginning to outlive their wild cousins.

If you’re interested, I’d love to respond to the questions I have not yet responded to…but time is up for the moment. I will post a final later in the day.

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 3:34 pm ET

No Spin Zone: If you had the conviction to put your real name up and your expertise to comment on my motivation – I'll politely respond (and without personal insults). Hereafter and until then, you will be ignored.

Lenore Jones   March 3rd, 2010 3:39 pm ET

This is not boring at all, but very interesting. I did find the "Keiko" site that chronicles his journey, etc. It did state on there how a lot of people were inspired by his release, and how interest in Killer whales increased. It's a shame that he died. What is their lifespan? Is it the same for captive and wild?

It's honestly a hard topic to debate. I have always been fascinated by marine biology, but never formally trained.

I saw a flock of strange sea hares wash up on a southern coastal beach after a hurricane awhile ago. They looked like bulbous, liver colored, monstrosities while lying dead on the shore. In the water it was a completely different story, they were beautiful, and graceful like soaring sea- butterflies! The local Aquarium tried to save some that were just going to beach anyway. They all ended up dieing in the tanks.

So, I'm going snorkeling in Turks and Caicos in a couple of months. Did you, or anyone ever dive there? Any tips? thanks!

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 3:56 pm ET

My posts were not intended for you Mr. Simmons, so no reply is needed. My post was intended for the folks on this forum who perhaps think that you are just some common fellow commenting on the issue. So let me counterpunch what you've said:

1. Trainers emphasis on behavioral science. Ask any psychology professor who will tell you that modern day psychology moves away from strict behaviorism. Modern learning theory recognizes that living systems, especially the complex ones, learn and behave in complex ways. Cognition was considered a "black box" by Skinner (aka father of operant conditioning) and the Sea World still think it is a "black box". In the wild young whales go through very sophisticated process of learning and socialization; they learn what to do, how to behave, what is acceptable and what is not. In your wildest dreams, Sea World, you will be able to do this. So the bottom point, Sea World uses very simplistic approach where operant conditioning as a corner stone. Animals are not considered to be a complex systems and family culture/socialization is non-existent. Add constant lack of mental stimulation and you will get what we have now. Whales at the Sea world will continue to misbehave and attack their trainers as long as they will be kept in these conditions.
2. Wilderness is a dangerous place and wild dolphins/whales are all messed up out there. This is just outrageous claim! Instead of keeping animals in concrete tanks and train them to give you sperm, why don't you work on IMPROVING their natural habitats??? Then we will NOT need the captivity where they can be healthy!!! What? What did you say? Of course, you will not be paid for the restoring wild habitats....Finallyt is also funny how familiar you are with health conditions of the wild dolphins, us common folks do not usually see that many wild dolphins that up close, which just proves that you are a dolphin dealer and capture animals for sale!

Todd   March 3rd, 2010 4:29 pm ET

wow...I've missed a lot today. Why is it that Mark and Lenore seem to have a genuine passion for the subject matter and interest in relaying what appear to me to be very valid and factual points? Sorry "no spin zone"'re increasingly taking on the tone of a 3 year old child that can't get thier way. It's leading me to believe some of these explanations are a little too accurate and threatening to you. Obviously striking a nerve. You must have some alterier motive in all this. It would be nice to know. At least Mark has been completely transparent (if you read his pervious posts he was pretty dang clear in discussing his background and associations). I notice you have not done the same.

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 4:30 pm ET

No Spin Zone: Gotta hand it to you, you got hard as I may try to exercise restraint; I'm going to grant you one more response.

First, you're following a common debate model focused on discrediting me, but you have not adequately or authoritatively addressed a single issue in the discussion.

Second, I have not attempted to come across as "some common fellow" – I clearly stated my associations and experiences (go back and read). I’m not the one being elusive here.

Third, the dolphins I'm referencing are animals I've seen from US government authorized Health Assessments in the Indian River and Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, my company (Ocean Embassy) was requested to assist in a NOAA Level A Health Assessment to determine the health of wild dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico…and no, we did not get paid. Again (pay attention this time), I have never collected a wild dolphin for captive display – and neither has my company. No matter what quasi logic you throw at it, it doesn’t change the facts.

Your diatribe is eerily similar to the rhetoric of the groups I've mentioned. Any chance you're sitting in an office in Santa Barbara? (No need to answer that my friend, I think the answer is clear). As Lenore states, "warring factions".

Lastly, I don't have an entourage of spin experts over my shoulder calculating responses. I speak from the heart and my experience because I believe wholeheartedly in what I do and the mission of quality zoological institutions. I'm glad you're passionate about what you believe. I'd prefer that you stick to debating the issues (with real facts and not extrapolated logical arguments) and discard the conspiracy theories...but that's your prerogative.

No more for you…you have not earned any more attention.

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 4:35 pm ET

@todd nor did you. My name will not tell you anything, I'm nobody and definitely not a big shot as Mr. Simmons is 😉

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 4:55 pm ET

Thank you for "granting" me a response, you clearly are not of the humble breed.

You are indeed trying to pass as a common fellow, you never mentioned to the folks here that you are trying to build dolphinarium in Panama; your experience working at the Sea World and many other things, heck your you worked your whole life with captive dolphins. It is silly to expect that you can ever change your position. BTW nor did you answer the question where are you going to get those dolphins for the facility in Panama. Also please elucidate us on your relationships with Chris Porter, the most notorious dolphin dealer there are.
Folks, Mark Simmons and Ted Turner are professionals who worked for captive industry their whole lives, what else we could expect them to say? They have very close ties to swim-with-dolphins facilities in the Florida Keys and other facilities around the world. Once again please realize who you are talking to. Ask them where do they get dolphins for those places? This industry is big and powerful, and it is a small but tightly knit group of people... but it is funny how they rushed here (Turner and Simmons) to do the damage control.
I know that it is hard to comprehend for you that a simple member of the public can feel the way I do. But I am indeed just a member of the public who feels very strongly about the issue.

Todd   March 3rd, 2010 5:10 pm ET

No're certainly not a "nobody". In fact, on this blog alone you've been:
"ted turner go AWAY";
"ted turner = ocean embassy";
"julie scardinana"
"Ocean Embassy"
"Mark Simmons = Ocean Embassy"
and "So ?"

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 5:22 pm ET

Yeah, whatever you fact it is just you and me posting 240 times 🙂

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 5:31 pm ET

Lenore – Part III
What are all of the breeding programs for then? Are we trying to hoard creatures for the apocalypse?
This is a good question and an important one. For starters, the US Endangered Species Act, US Marine Mammal Protection Act, CITES, SPAW and the IUCN to name a few, allow for and in many cases actually call for the creation of captive breeding groups for various reasons including the maintaining or re-establishment of viable populations in the wild. While reintroduction into the wild is necessary and a critical tool in wildlife management with the appropriate animals (rescued beached animals or short term captive animals raised expressly for this purpose), it is not the responsible action for every animal.

As for breeding – well, who can resist that? In a healthy environment – it happens. Although strategic animal management plans are important for organizations like SeaWorld, there is no evil plan to conquer the world with captive bred whales.

I’m not going to claim an apocalypse, but I will tell you that wild populations are indeed threatened. Yes, even killer whales. Search articles on North Atlantic killer whales (where Tilikum and Keiko come from and where Keiko was being released). High contaminant levels are being found in killer whales in this region. The killer whales in British Columbia are experiencing abnormal changes in their usual patterns, most likely to dwindling food resource and some are claiming findings of cancer and high mercury levels in those populations. We know the most about these two groups because they are more studied than other parts of the world…but the story is the same over and over and over again. What’s more alarming is that the trend is worsening, not improving.

In addition, many wild populations are threatened by diminishing food resources, pollutants and encroachment. I’ve often heard the argument that it is better to see them in the wild. I personally do not condone wild whale watching. In fact, I believe it is more damaging than any other form of wildlife exposure. Whale watching is a business, operators have to make money. If their clients don’t see dolphins or whales, they don’t make money. In many instances (often where enforcement is lacking), operators send out “scout” boats to find animals, harassing them in the process and in some extreme cases, even feeding them. This ensures the “money boat” can guarantee sightings. In other cases, the boat operator gets too close or actually follows the animals – in effect harassing them as well. Each of these activities as I’ve described them is illegal in US waters for a very good reason. What happens if we do as HSUS, Earth Island and Ric Obarry want us to do – send the nearly 10 million visitors to SeaWorld alone each year into our coastal waters? We’ve polluted the water off our coasts, we’ve over-fished them and we’ve amassed shipping traffic akin to our highways already. Picture the scene if we take their advice.

There are many good reasons for maintaining our zoological institutions beyond those mentioned already including knowledge we gain from their care – we use this knowledge to respond to and rescue beached animals hundreds of times a year. This is just the tip of the iceberg…but most importantly, and I know it sounds cliché in this argument, but these animals serve a critical role in getting people “activated” by experiencing the animals first hand. Think about the over 600 million people world-wide that visit zoos and aquariums every year. I’ll tell you a little theory I have (based on the true progression of social value toward marine mammals in the US): the Taiji dolphin slaughter in Japan has been going on for nearly 400 years (pre-dating the captive display of dolphins or whales by…oh 343 years or so)…it’s a cultural heritage at this point. The movie “The Cove” would have you believe that the captive dolphin industry sustains this slaughter by purchasing dolphins out of the drive. The fact is, there is not one Taiji drive animal in any public display facility in the western hemisphere, and of the dolphins that are purchased from the drive by Asian countries, they represent only a handful of the 10’s of thousands of dolphins that are slaughtered in the drive. I wish more animals were purchased from the drive, more that would be rescued from slaughter. But, and here’s my theory, I believe that young generations of Japanese that are now attending zoos and marine mammal parks in Japan will develop a value for the animals (much as we did in the US) and in time, the fishery in Taiji will become offensive to them as it is to us – and ultimately, it will end. In many ways, this encapsulates the importance of quality zoos and aquariums in society.

I don’t know anything about Keiko’s plight? When was he released 70’s or 80’s? Haven’t we learned anything since then with all of the research that Sea World has been doing? They must be doing research about integrating captive or injured, animals back into their natural habitat?

Keiko was released (began the Icelandic portion) in 1998, but officially left at sea in the summer of 2002. He died in a fjord in Norway from pneumonia in December 2003. Release of rescued and rehabilitated animals has been taking place for decades. SeaWorld was a huge contributor to this years ago, but due to the nasty diseases [similar to aids in people] they had to discontinue due to the threat to their healthy animals – like Tilikum. Today, rescue and rehab facilities are “dedicated” – meaning that’s all they do so there is no chance of cross contamination to public display populations.

Lenore – I’ve enjoyed your questions and the exchange. I’m not made of glass and won’t be offended if you disagree with everything I’ve said… I appreciate the willingness to trade.

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 5:34 pm ET

Lenore is gone...what a waste of need to learn to express yourself in a shorter, more coherent way...

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 5:39 pm ET

Folks, the situation is even worse than I though....these people are everywhere! How is it possible that Mark Simmons, the man who is capturing wild dolphins is sitting on the advisory group of Marine Mammal Conservancy, Florida? So it is like I am capturing dolphins with my right hand, but sit on the board of the NGO group who claims to do rescues with my left hand?????Next time you think of donating to Marine Conservancy Group think who do you give your money too! This is travesty! It cannot be right!

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 6:00 pm ET

Actually NSZ – u r probably doing something else with your right hand.

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 6:09 pm ET

I know that Ted Turner and Mark Simmons are real people, but who are you? Your name appears in other threads along with theirs....are your their alter-ego, rude, illiterate and nasty? Like they are all nice and sweet in their “polite” posts and you are as nasty as it gets??? Please, do not be a real would be just plain sad....

Lenore Jones   March 3rd, 2010 6:11 pm ET

No, not a waste of bits.....I'm still here! I'm exceedingly liberal and read all opinions. I'm actually really impressed with Mark Simmons responses. Thats the beauty of debating, we can all have different opinions. If we all felt the same way it wouldn't be much of a debate!

In some ways I'll always be stuck with that "noble Savage" kind of perspective. I'm one of those people that always dreamed of living on a deserted Island. I love the History channels show, "Life Without People." They should do one episode that would focus on a human fee world from the whales perspective.

I'm definitely checking back tomorrow!

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 6:13 pm ET

U need to put down your cheerleader magazine and see a doctor cause u are waaaay past u r medication time!

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 6:14 pm ET

Lenore, you are being way too nice to Mark, I hope you googled his name and saw what he is doing out there.....

Tia Tristen   March 3rd, 2010 6:21 pm ET

BTW – the last note was for u NSZ

Todd   March 3rd, 2010 8:41 pm ET

No spin (and your many other aliases)'s what I don't get. I've been following along with the back and forth, and you yourself have said Mark has worked with captive dolphins his whole life. Doesn't that say something about his passion and experience for marine mammals. Reading his posts, it is clear he has a thorough and educated grasp on all these issues. Essentially you're saying it is bad that he has dedicated his life to something that matters to him...just because YOU don't agree with it. That's pretty weak.

All you have done is so far is character attacks...and quite honestly it is creepy the amount you claim to know about both Mark and Ted. I mean to the point of obsessive and stalking. You either have an incredible amount of time on your hands; or you yourself are trying to protect something. You keep blaming everyone who doesn't share your opinion as having alterior motives based on the simple fact you don't agree with them...and that they are trying to do "damage control" is becoming clear that this is likely exactly what you are doing. Can you say hypocrite?
I'm in no way faulting you for having a strong opinion...and from what I can read, no one else is either...but I suggest you defend the real issues instead of trying to paint the only people on this blog giving thoughtful feedback as demons. Have you ever met any of them? You sure seem to be an expert on thier life and intentions. Wouldn't surprise me at all if you used to work with one of them and have some bizarre grudge.

No spin zone   March 3rd, 2010 9:54 pm ET

@ simmons...geez, can you just cut it out? I am glad that you are finally signing off, what a relief!

We all know what Ocean Embassy does and why they perch here on this blog. If someone has any doubts just research it for yourself. I also suggest you research the documentary "Dolphin Dealer", it explains a lot about what Ocean Embassy actually does. I am glad that I hit a nerve with you and it shows that just one person can do a lot 🙂

Please also understand that money is the major motivator here and that is why Simmons et al spent so much time posting and blabbering about whatever. This industry is big and powerful and they'd sue you just like that (as they did with this poor lady in Panama). They know that the tide is changing and are desperate to reverse public opinion.

Do not let all this peachy "conservation/research" fog cloud your perception of what these people actually do. Early on they understood that just doing shows and swims with dolphins will not fly easily any longer, so the addition of "conservation/research" twist is a paramount for these facilities. These people have no shame and they’ll exploit poor animals to the full extent!

It is shameful that Mr. Simmons keeps bringing up Dawn in this somebody said in another thread unfortunately trainers are "cheaper" than whales and can be easily replaced. Sea World creates phony glamour around their facilities and unfortunately an army of naive girls are at the gate already ready to put their lives at risk for the benefit of the Sea World owners just like Mr. Simmons.

On a personal note, why all Sea World former and current employees are so condescending to the public? You need to be careful about it; people picked it up right away with Lacinak on the show!
And once again, I am not with any animal right organization, believe it or not!

Mark Simmons   March 3rd, 2010 11:01 pm ET

Springer was never a captive animal. That was a case of rescue and rehab – we've released thousands of animals in rescue and rehab progams. It has nothing to do with Keiko or the lunatic prospect of releasing Tilikum.
Certainly you can do better than that...(yes, I'm taunting you). Blogging is kinda fun. I hope this is at least making you smile a little here and there. Good night whomever is still hanging out in I'm really done (and I'm going to take this e-mail notification thing off so that NSZ doesn't keep tempting me with easy arguments). Oops, I taunted you again NSZ. 🙂

Robert Johnson   March 4th, 2010 10:09 am ET

1. Ric Obarry’s changed his name in the 1980’s from Rick O’Feldman. Prior to this he was also known as Rick Feldman.
2. Obarry did not complete a high school education. Obarry received his General Equivalency Diploma (GED) while in the Navy.
3. Obarry is a part-time actor and full time activist who claims to be a dolphin “trainer” and killer whale “trainer”, however Obarry has never held membership in the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) or any other internationally recognized zoological organization.
4. OBARRY claims to have captured and trained Flipper – In fact Ricou Brouning (from “The Creature of the Black Lagoon”) has testified that he was the person who caught, trained and ran the entire “Flipper” show for Ivan Tors productions (where Ricou won two Patsy awards). Mr. Brouning also testified that Obarry (his last name was Feldman at that time), had worked as an Apprentice for Brouning while at Ivan Tors and NOT while at Miami Seaquarium. It was only then that O’Barry (Feldman at that time) did limited training as part of a staff of trainers so that Ricou Brouning could focus on directing.
5. Obarry is now calling himself “the very first killer whale trainer”. In fact Ted Griffith, was the first person to train and get into the water with a killer whale at Vancouver Aquarium in 1965. Footage is available of these public feeding sessions.
6. St. Kitts, police escorted O’Barry out of the country in 2006 for disturbing the 58th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
7. Obarry claims to have had an “epiphany” against keeping dolphins in captivity when a dolphin involved in the Flipper TV series“died in his arms” in the 1960’s. (This has never been verified). Despite his claims, Obarry worked for and kept 3 dolphins captive at the Sugarloaf resort in the Florida Keys in 1995.
8. Obarry was also hired by Steve Wynn in Las Vegas Nevada to assist in obtaining dolphins for the Mirage casino. Obarry was paid by Mr. Wynn but never completed his contract.
9. In January of 1998, the U.S. Government filed federal charges against Richard O’Barry and the Dolphin Project (O’Barry’s corporation), for repeated and blatant violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act and U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act including illegal “take”, failure to comply with legal permit provisions, and failure to obtain a legal scientific permits.
10. Obarry was found guilty on six counts of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act in 1999 link: "Releasing captive dolphins to the wild has been romanticized in recent years, and has been promoted as a noble pursuit. However, the injuries these dolphins suffered and their obvious dependence on humans highlights the need for any release project to be conducted responsibly and scientifically," said NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources Director Hilda Diaz-Soltero"This decision sends a strong message that the abuse and abandonment of dolphins will not be tolerated.”
11. Obarry claims that this illegal release was “successful”, but the animals involved were never fed, became emaciated and received serious injuries. Personnel from Dolphin Research Center, the U.S. Navy and NOAA/NMFS had to rescue both animals. Unfortunately their condition deteriorated under Obarry’s lack of basic animal care and they died shortly after.
His irresponsible and ill-advised actions directly caused the preventable suffering and death of dolphins in the U.S. See: “Letter to the Editor: The illegal release of Buck and Luther”, authored by Linda Erb, VP at Dolphin Research Center, FL. was published in the journal: Marine Mammals Public Display and Research. Volume 4, NO.1 , Spring 2000. ISSN 1077-0178. page 32 .
13. His recent statement reflects his career aspirations: “When I go out there and do what I do, it’s all about conflict. It’s all about fighting”.
14. In the U.S., O’Barry is not credible and would never be hired by any U.S. marine life facility, zoological park or government agency.
15. O’Barry is an extremist “for hire”, changing organizations when convenient, using Earth Island Institute, One Voice France, and World Society for the Protection of Animals as his cover to generate personal publicity using captive dolphins.
16. A U.S. government prosecutor said this about O’Barry: "This case involved the reckless and intentional release of two captive dolphins by over-zealous activists who had not prepared the animals to survive in the wild."
17. The presiding judge said this about O’Barry: “This case reflects the sad consequences of the obsessive actions of Respondents Richard O'Barry…who intentionally disregarded the best interests of the dolphins…”
18. The Board of Directors at Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary (where O’Barry worked) said this about O’Barry’s actions: “The Board of Directors met in an emergency session and took several actions. They determined that the release of the dolphins into open water endangered the dolphins' welfare…”
19. During the court proceedings O'Barry himself even stated: “… it wasn't ethical”. “ I did not believe at this time it was responsible.” “ I'm wrong about that one.” “ It was not responsible.” “It was irresponsible.”
20. In 1999, O’Barry was convicted on SIX separate counts of violating the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) that caused injury to dolphins. The only intentional violation since the MMPA was enacted in 1972.
21. Despite this, O’Barry continues to ignore marine mammal experts and scientists, and continues conduct these violations, but only outside of the U.S. where he is less known. (As a U.S. citizen, he is still obligated to uphold the U.S. MMPA even when operating abroad).
22. O’Barry claims to have “released” 14 dolphins throughout Central America and the Carribbean since his conviction. These actions would be illegal in the United States and many other countries where marine mammal protection legislation has been adopted.
23. O’Barry greatly exaggerates his limited involvement as “Flipper’s” trainer. In reality many trainers worked with this animal and he was only a junior employee with little experience. He left from this facility as a disgruntled employee after only a short time.
24. O’Barry claims that this animal “committed suicide”, when in reality the animal had a cardiac condition. Animals don’t premeditate “suicide” and fight for life instead of death.
25. Ric O’Barry isn’t even his real name and has turned his frustration into a 30-year emotional tirade against an industry that has raised public awareness and saved thousands of animals.
26. O’Barry’s understanding of dolphins consists only of his experience in the 1960’s over 40 years ago, long before current standards which now prevent his sub-standard practices. His practices are outdated and illegal in the U.S. and other countries.
27. O’Barry travels the world protesting dolphin facilities everywhere including various facilities in the United States, the Carribbean, Cuba, Nicaragua, Japan, etc..
28. He attempts to link legal and regulated zoological operations with illegal dolphin hunting.
29. He recently traveled to Anguilla to protest against a dolphin program. During his presentation, police were called to break up his disturbance after he threatened a boycott of the country.
30. O’Barry routinely travels under the auspices of several organizations including Earth Island Institute, World Society for the Protection of Animals, One Voice France, Animal Welfare Institute, The Dolphin Project and Save Japan Dolphins. He has been known to advocate violence and ignore local and international law.
31. O’Barry is capable of damage, defacement of public property and trespassing. He will do whatever he deems necessary to gain public attention, even when it involves breaking the law as he knowingly did in the United States.
32. O’Barry now makes his living as a political extremist hired by various groups to disrupt and create media attention, which he craves.
33. Obarry and his employer Earth Island Institute are currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Ocean World Dominican Republic. Obarry fraudulently represented to the Dominican government plagiarized footage and dialogue of a dolphin hunt, filmed by Hardy Jones for the documentary “The Dolphin Defender”. This footage was used in his own documentary “The Cove” and presented as Obarry’s actual footage of animals destined for import to the Dominican Republic. This caused denial of the import and eventual death to the 12 animals being held for Ocean World.
34. The documentary “The Cove”, in which Obarry is the main character, falsely accuses U.S. marine life parks of subsidizing annual dolphin harvest in Japan. This is false and these annual hunts have been occurring for over 400 years, long before marine parks ever existed.
35. Obarry is now advocating the irresponsible release of killer whales housed at SeaWorld, despite his previous abuses when attempting this. He claims that Keiko (from the movie “Free Willey”) was a successful release, however the animal was abandoned, suffered and died within months, having never successfully re-acclimated to the open ocean.

No spin zone   March 4th, 2010 10:58 am ET

@ simmons Ok, good...he's finally gone. Good luck capturing wild dolphins for Dubai and Panama dolphinariums!

Lenore Jones   March 4th, 2010 12:07 pm ET

I missed a whole lot of bit wasting! Just kidding!

So no one from either side has ever gone diving or snorkeling in Turks and Caicos? I promise that I'm not going to release any captive conchs or smuggle any dolphins back on the plane. 😉

I just thought that someone on here might have gone there, although it's off topic. I have been to the travel sites but they are more concerned with hotels, restaurants, etc..

Is anything new going on at Sea World today?

No spin zone   March 4th, 2010 12:13 pm ET

@lenore no nothing new at Sea World except for management filling their pockets and animals slowly going crazy.... 🙁

@ johnson dude, chill out!

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