SeaWorld's Greed, Not Killer Whale, Responsible for Animal Trainer's Death

Many animal experts would say that captivity is a way to preserve endangered species from being wiped out. But should endangered species be man's playthings in exchange for room and board? That's what happening to the aquatic animals at SeaWorld.

Dolphins, orcas, seals and penguins are indeed endangered species, but instead of being put in a sanctuary or habitat where they can live their lives as if they were living in the wild, they are kept in close quarters and given all the food they can eat. The only catch is that these animals must do tricks every hour on the hour to amuse tourists. Since when do endangered species have to suffer for being endangered?

Last week, the training and taming of wild animals came into question when a SeaWorld trainer was killed by a killer whale named Tilikum during a routine show at the SeaWorld Park in Orlando, Florida. This was not the only incident for the 12,000 pound animal.

According to various sources, Tilikum had killed another trainer in 1991 and a park-goer who sneaked into the park in 1999.

These species are called killer whales for a reason. National Geographic describes killer whales as highly successful predators that feed on seals, walruses, penguins and even other whales. They are so brazen in their quest for food that they grab seals right off the ice in the polar regions of the equator. Their hunting techniques have been compared to wolf packs.

Unfortunately, movies like "Free Willy" have people considering these majestic creatures to be as friendly as mere dolphins.

The term "killer whale" was coined when mariners saw the orcas eating other whales, according to the Marine Mammal Center Web site. Although they have never attacked people in the wild, they are dangerous nonetheless. Beautiful to look at from afar, they are still the bullies of the sea. And training bullies to do stupid tricks is just asking for trouble.

According to the Associated Press, Tilikum has a history of aggressive behavior, so much so that "visitors were not allowed to get close to the killer whale and trainers were not permitted to climb into the water with the animal." They worked with him from a half-submerged platform.

This admission displays SeaWorld's lack of understanding or ignorance of animal behavior as well as their hunger for money.

If an animal is aggressive, doesn't want to learn tricks and misbehaves, how are you going to make it do what it does not want to do? Wild animals, and humans for that matter, will always act up if they are forced to do something.

This animal sent a message by killing those two victims in the 1990s. These grave warning signs were ignored and sadly another victim has died because of SeaWorld's business plans.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Tilikum will not be released into the wild because he has been captive for too long and would not survive in the wild. He will not be euthanized, but his future is uncertain.

Since he will not be euthanized or released, let him be sent to a monitored sanctuary and live the rest of his days in peace. Perhaps this horrible tragedy will make SeaWorld re-evaluate its interpretation of entertainment and think twice before using killer whales and other potentially aggressive species as a source of amusement.