Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tillikum, the Killer Whale

If you have been paying attention to Important News Stories About Animals, you will know that an orca whale killed a trainer at SeaWorld a few days ago.  This was a very sad event, and a lot of people don't understand why it happened, so that makes it even sadder.  The trainer, whose name was Dawn Brancheau, had been training killer whales for many years, and she was very good at it.  She knew Tillikum and had taught him tricks and fed him lots of yummy fish.  So she was not just some doofus who was messing around with whales without knowing what she was doing or how whales act.

Mom has been sort of obsessed with watching videos on the internet and reading articles and stuff because she is trying to understand why this whale would kill his trainer.  I told her that only Tillikum knows the real reason why he did what he did.  If he had a blog, like I have, he might be able to explain his actions, but since he doesn't have a blog, we will never know for sure.

Tillikum is a really big whale who weighs 12,000 pounds.  He killed two people before this, so you could say he has a history.  In 1991, a trainer got killed in British Columbia by Tillikum and two other orcas.  And then in 1999, a man snuck into the pool with the whales and he died because the water was really cold, but he also got bitten by Tillikum.

Anyway, since Tillikum had this history, the trainers at SeaWorld were not allowed to get in the water with him.  But he did tricks and stuff by the edge of the pool, which you can see in a video that is on the internet that was taken by a tourist just a few minutes before Ms. Brancheau got killed.  Some other trainers and experts on whales think that what happened was that Ms. Brancheau was lying down in the shallow water with her face near Tillikum's head, and then her long ponytail got into the water, and Tillikum grabbed it because he thought it might be an interesting and fun toy.  So he pulled her into the water with him and he shook her and took her underwater with him, and she got all these injuries, and she drowned.

All the whale shows at all the SeaWorlds were closed for a few days, but they are going to open again today.  But the trainers won't get in the water with the whales for a while until everything gets figured out with Tillikum.  The people at SeaWorld are not going to do anything to punish Tillikum, which is good because that would be stupid.  He was just acting like a whale and not trying to eat Ms. Brancheau for lunch or anything like that.

Sometimes when people get bit by an animal, like by their dog, for example, they say, "She bit me for no reason."  But they are wrong about this because there is always a reason.  Humans may not understand why a dog bites a person, but the dog has a good reason and is just acting like a dog.  Maybe it's just that she's scared or got spooked, or maybe her instinct makes her act a certain way, like when the greyhounds attacked Gabe, which was kind of a pack thing.  People may not think it makes sense, but it makes total sense to the dog.

Well, anyway, getting back to killer whales, I did some in-depth research about them and how the wild ones live, and I will tell you all that Important Information tomorrow because if I try to tell you today, it will make my blog way too long.

Oh, but I just want to say that Mom went to SeaWorld in Orlando one time, and it was probably in 1993.  She saw the show with the orcas in it, and she sat in the Splash Zone, but she didn't get splashed very much, which she was happy about because it was March, and the weather was kind of cool.  Anyway, she can't remember how many whales they had there, but one of them was called Shamu.  Mom thinks that there have been several whales named Shamu.  It's kind of like having several dogs named Lassie.

Anyway, I would not want to meet a killer whale in person because I'm afraid it would eat me in one big gulp.  Those killer whales have very sharp-looking teeth, and I do not want to get anywhere near them.  But one time when Mom took me and Gabe to visit Aunt Cheryl in Texas, she bought us a Shamu toy at the thrift store.  This is the kind of Shamu that I prefer instead of the real one!

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