SeaWorld’s orca trainers will stay out of the water following the park’s decision to give up its appeal to overturn a federal appeals court ruling in April. That decision that upheld the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s citations against SeaWorld for various violations, including some linked directly to the death of one of its trainers in 2010.
As chronicled in the documentary Blackfish, which has been quite the public relations headache for the marine park, SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed in front of park visitors when an orca named Tilikum pulled her into the water and kept her under it during a performance.
OSHA then cited SeaWorld with three workplace safety violations, two linked to Brancheau’s tragic death.
Since that appeals court ruling, SeaWorld trainers have stayed out of the water, as OSHA alleged that the park exposed animal trainers to hazards of drowning or injury, knowingly, by allowing them in the water with whales without anything to keep them safe, should something go wrong. As it did when Brancheau was killed, as well as in previous instances involving two other trainers killed while with Tilikum.
And now it seems it’ll stay that way, as SeaWorld Entertainment won’t be taking its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week cited by the Orlando Sentinel.
SeaWorld says that it has “elected to not pursue further appeal.”
“The safety of our staff and the welfare of our animals are SeaWorld’s highest priorities, and since February 2010 we have made significant safety improvements. … We are focused on the implementation of those improvements moving forward,” SeaWorld said in a prepared statement. “As such, we opted not to pursue further appeal of the court’s decision, which was based on how we were conducting our killer whale program prior to February 2010.”
SeaWorld San Diego announced last week that it’s doubling the size of its orca environment and pledging $10 million in research funding to study the creatures in the wild.
SeaWorld won’t appeal ruling keeping whale trainers out of water [Orlando Sentinel]