The killer whale shows at SeaWorld parks have always been a controversial topic. For years, animal rights groups have argued that the killer whales, along with most of the other animals in captivity at SeaWorld, should not be kept in captivity and made to perform. For a long time, these complaints fell on deaf ears. SeaWorld kept their killer whale shows and millions of park-goers flocked to see the performances.
This changed in 2010, after the death of SeaWorld employee Dawn Brancheau. One of the largest killer whales at SeaWorld Orlando dragged Brancheau into the water. She was subsequently killed due to drowning and blunt force trauma. After this tragedy, SeaWorld was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was no longer allowed to have killer whale trainers in the water with the animals.
SeaWorld has been trying ever since to get that decision overturned. Now, SeaWorld is at an appeals court hearing attempting to get things back to the way they were. SeaWorld’s attorney has likened the situation to the NFL, saying that government restriction of close contact with the orcas would be like saying no more tackling in professional football. An attorney for the U.S. Labor Department present at the hearing argued that no matter how many safety precautions SeaWorld took, killer whales are still predatory animals.
Now, the three judges who heard the case will have to make a decision. This will most likely come to light in a few months. In the meantime, SeaWorld will continue with their killer whale shows, minus the orca-trainer interaction.