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Death at Seaworld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity [Anglais] [Broché]

David Kirby

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72 internautes sur 87 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Significant and Authentic Account of Killer Whales in Captivity and Beyond... 17 juillet 2012
Par Karin Susan Fester - Publié sur
David Kirby's book Death at SeaWorld documents and effectively engages with the fierce debate about whether it is good and right to keep killer whales (orcas) in captivity at marine theme parks for the purpose of entertaining the public. For his compelling argument, the author employs a wide range of sources: empirical evidence, scientific expert opinions, and numerous interviews with trainers and a host of others. Each chapter is packed with essential information and supports the author's comprehensive argumentation.

In February 2010, Tilikum, a male killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida killed Dawn Brancheau, an experienced trainer, during a public performance. Tilikum is also directly linked to the death of Keltie Byrne in 1991 and Daniel Dukes in 1999. This is not only a human tragedy, but also one for the orca involved--Tilikum. The marine animal display industry has been harshly criticized already for several decades because they maintain orcas (killer whales) in captivity. The horrific tragedy in 2010 is now a catalyst for moving the debate forward. Anti-captivity advocates hope orca captivity will finally come to an end. However, it is not so simple.

Kirby provides critical discussion from both sides of the debate. He vigorously argues with support of insurmountable evidence and source material, that Tilikum, like countless other orcas held in captivity, is a genuine victim of humans' cruel, ignorant actions. The immense revenue generated from killer whale performances only perpetuates the ongoingmiserythat these animals must endure in their daily lives. And the aggressive behavior imposed on trainers and other captive orcas is apparently the result of the cruel and violent way they were initially captured in the wild, the post-capture stress they suffered, the way they are confined in marine theme parks, and numerous other reasons. Inevitably society has moral obligations to these animals, but at what cost?

Dawn Brancheau's death in 2010 has inevitably fueled and agitated the debate even further between pro- and anti- captivity advocates. Naomi Rose, the chief marine mammal scientist at the Humane Society of the United States, set out to prove scientifically that "keeping killer whales in captivity was unethical, indefensible, and hazardous to both animals and their trainers" (p. 238).

David Kirby presents two profound questions in the Introduction of his book: (1) "Is captivity in an amusement park good for orcas: Is this the appropriate venue for killer whales to be held, and does it somehow benefit wild orcas and their ocean habitat, as the industry claims?", and (2) "Is orca captivity good for society: Is it safe for trainers and truly educational for a public that pays to watch the whales perform what critics say are animal tricks akin to circus acts?" (p. 7).

The book is lengthy, the main text is 440 pages plus an extensive notes/reference section and a comprehensive index. This book should not be viewed as merely something to read, but also as a source for useful information and for encourageing in-depth discussion. Therefore, the scholarly character of this particular book--it's rigorous and systematic analysis of diverse source material and in-depth engagement with the core issues--makes it ideal as a supplemental text for courses in animal ethics as well as interdisciplinary studies in political science, cultural and social studies, economics, environmental studies, and moral and political philosophy.

David Kirby has left no stone unturned. He has successfully refuted the arguments put forward by the pro-captivity advocates (the marine theme park industry). He has presented valid and convincing arguments as to why orcas should not live in captivity and also why this is not good and for society.

After reading Death at SeaWorld, I came away with the gut feeling, that I, like so many people--even those who think they know something about killer whales--still have so much to learn about them!

I have seen the killer whales when I visited SeaWorld in San Diego and Orlando. Instantly my first thoughts were,"How can they be happy living like this...they don't have much room?! Don't they miss the open ocean? Don't they get crazy?" I am certainly not the first person to ask such questions.

The readers of Death at SeaWorld must now decide for themselves: Is it good and right to keep killer whales in captivity?

David Kirby's book is simply superb!

Review by Karin Susan Fester (c) 2012.
Disclosure: I would like to thank St. Martins Press for providing me with a review copy of Death at SeaWorld.
The review here on Amazon is an "excerpt" of the orignal which appeared on my blog: Philosophybookreviews
51 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Death at SeaWorld exposes the lethal legacy of orca captivity 17 juillet 2012
Par Elizabeth Batt - Publié sur
From horrific orca captures to the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, David Kirby's groundbreaking investigative thriller chillingly exposes a side of SeaWorld deftly hidden from public view, including the vast difference between orcas in captivity and their wild counterparts.

In the Northern Resident orca community for example, "orcas have their own cultures," Kirby explains, with each pod having its own signature collection of clicks and whistles. Rose discovered and wrote in her dissertation, that "Residents travel in matrifocal [centered on the mother] units called matrileneal groups." In other words, Kirby said, from infancy to old age, male orcas "spend most of their time by their mother's side," thus making them "the planet's ultimate mama's boys."

Quite unlike their Resident counterparts, Transient killer whales are less vocal and less maternal, the book says. In fact some scientists the author explained, "now believe that the two ecotypes should officially be designated distinct species." These two types of orcas Kirby adds, really "do not like to mix." It's a point hammered home harshly later in the book, when SeaWorld's breeding program is explored in more depth, and it is revealed that Transient orcas are bred to Resident orcas, without any regard for the differences between "species and races."

Former trainers at SeaWorld said the compnay possessed a culture all of its own. A world of "operant conditioning" and smoke and mirrors designed to obfuscate the most discerning guest. Use of industry "buzzwords" coupled with drilled responses were part of a comprehensive handbook and repertoire that trainers were compelled to learn.
There was an entire list of words to avoid said Kirby, as trainers were "spoonfed corporate soundbites." Marine mammals were "not captured," they were "acquired." Captivity was a "controlled environment" or animals were in "human care." Marine mammals did not live in "tanks," they resided in "enclosures" or "aquariums." In one particular memo passed down the chain, trainers were told that no matter what happens on any given day, "Stay positive and keep [explanations], on a 5th grade level."

Kirby shows that behind the glitz and glamour of a self-regulating SeaWorld, is a corporation that clearly brooks no opposition. For decades, and occasionally with the aid of private and government entities, the organization has bought, bullied and battered those who oppose it, right down to the little guy.

Far, far louder, screaming in fact, is the realization that trained orcas in parks bear little resemblance to their counterparts in the wild. Learned behaviors in artificial environments could not be more different, despite the company mantra that captivity for orcas is "educational" for the public. One only has to look at "the wildly popular raspberries," Kirby writes, "when whales make farting noises from their blowhole;" there could not be a more perfect example of how anomalous these animals have become.

Sadly, such parlor tricks, have turned one of the ocean's top predators into little more than a circus act, and Death at SeaWorld's crucial exposure of the industry left me feeling betrayed by an organization that courts families on a daily basis, then misinforms them.

If you TRULY love orcas, then you need to read this book.
27 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Review of "Death at SeaWorld" 12 septembre 2012
Par Mark J. Palmer - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Review of "Death At SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity" by David Kirby, St. Martin's Press, 469 pp.

By Mark J. Palmer
Associate Director
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute

Author David Kirby has written a shocking expose of the SeaWorld marine parks and the dangers posed to both SeaWorld trainers and the captive orcas from captivity. "Death at SeaWorld" was inspired by the tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, when a captive male orca Tilikum grabbed her and pulled her into the tank with him. She died from blunt force trauma.

What is especially shocking is that Dawn was not the first trainer to die. Nor was she the first trainer to be killed by Tilikum. Furthermore, many captive orcas have died in SeaWorld over the years. As Kirby shows throughout the book, the deaths of trainers and orcas are related. Large carnivorous orcas do poorly in captivity, dying at young ages (Kirby notes that orcas in SeaWorld die at a rate two and a half times higher than orcas in the wild). And they can lash out at their trainers, with fatal results.

Kirby profiles Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal biologist who has been in the forefront of efforts to stop the keeping of orcas and dolphins in captivity for the Humane Society of the United States. Also important to the story were several trainers who quit working at SeaWorld and came out publicly against the programs they originally were hired to serve. "Death at SeaWorld" follows Dr. Rose as she studies the behavior of wild orcas in British Columbia (where orcas in the wild behave much differently from captive orcas, Rose notes) and parallels the SeaWorld trainers who grow disillusioned as they realize SeaWorld's public claims of "happy orcas" in captivity conceals serious problems.

Kirby describes the host of problems that beset orcas in captivity. Wild orcas cannot drink seawater, but get their water from the fish they eat. In captivity, orcas are fed dead fish that have been frozen and then thawed, losing most of their moisture. Orcas have to be fed immense amounts of gelatin to replace water they lose, just to keep them hydrated.

Orcas often break teeth in chewing on the concrete sides and metal gates in their marine park homes, resulting in serious infections if not treated. But orcas cannot be anesthetized like humans - they need to be awake in order to breath. So dental work has to be done on the wide-awake orca, drilling out the pulp from the teeth to prevent a lethal infection.

Kirby recently released a video [...] that came out during the SeaWorld investigation following the death of Brancheau. The video was from an incident in 2006, covered up by SeaWorld, in which an orca seized the foot of a trainer and almost drowned him. Kirby noted that the female orca had been separated from her calf and forced to perform - the orca turned on her trainer when she heard the calf calling from another tank.

Orcas in tanks are ticking time bombs for the trainers. Orcas in the wild virtually never attack humans. But they do in captivity.

Kirby says he came to the research for the book as neither pro- or anti-captivity for orcas, but he now supports retiring all captive orcas to sea pens, with potentially some of them being released back into the wild. This has been done by Earth Island Institute and the Humane Society with Keiko, the whale star of the hit movie "Free Willy."

Earth Island formed the Free Willy/Keiko Foundation, which built a new state-of-the art tank for Keiko in Oregon, and then, after rehab, moved him to his home waters of Iceland, where he remained for six years. He swam a thousand miles in the north Atlantic to Norway, where he died at the age of 25.

"Death at SeaWorld" is one of the most important books written about the problem of keeping intelligent whales and dolphins in small concrete tanks for their entire lives just to amuse us. As I write this review, the Georgia Aquarium is seeking permission to bring eighteen beluga whales into captivity in the US from Russia. This deadly trade in captive marine mammals must stop.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 intriguing look at captive whales... 15 janvier 2014
Par MSlife - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I have had a lifelong fear of "killer whales" stemming from a childhood encounter during a nighttime "Shamu" show in which a whale jumping out of a dark pool scared me (6 years old) to the point of nightmares. I never returned until February 20,2010. Trying to face my fear in front of my children I watched Dawn Brancheau and the other trainers try to get the whales to cooperate. They weren't having it.. And they cancelled the show after Tilly escaped into the pool with 2 of the other whales. This was 4 days before Dawn was tragically killed by Tilly.

I have been incredibly interested in this story ever since. I loved this book and found it incredibly interesting. I would definitely recommend it. The only part that was a little "lengthy" was the courtroom talk.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Thought Provoking and Compelling 2 novembre 2012
Par GijitsMom - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This book made me re-exam my old beliefs about the educational value of holding wild animals in captivity. I am not a proponent of "animal rights" but do support "animal welfare". In the past I attended some professional training seminars provided by several of the "high profile" SeaWorld trainers/managers mentioned in this book. The trainers shared the positive training philosophies SeaWorld employed with such large, intelligent and potentially dangerous animals. They also discussed the excellent housing and husbandry practices ensuring these giant mammals were happy and healthy. They omitted mentioning food deprivation, isolation, frequent relocation, forced separation of babies or constant crowding during those talks. Rather misleading and self-serving, very disappointing.

I was espcially interested in the constrast Death at SeaWorld provided between the lives of Orca's in the wild and those in captivity. This was something I had not considered before reading this book. Understanding the intelligence of these animals, the size of their natural environment, as well as the importance of the family unit made me realize how inappropriate captivity really is. The mortality statistics and explanations for the Orca deaths cited in the book shed doubt on SeaWorld's claims of overall success and committment to the animals best interests.

I recommend this book for anyone who is captivated by the power, strength and majesty of killer whales, whether in the wild or in a theme park. Even if it doesn't change your perspective on captivity, it will hopefully cause you to think a little harder.
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