The Orca Keto Did Attack and Kill Alexis Martinez, Loro Parque Trainer: The forensic medical

report certifies that the body of the young man exhibited the bite marks of the whale
M. Á. MONTERO / SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE OCTOBER 3, 2010

Although Tenerife zoo Loro Parque is still trying to clarify one of its press releases after the tragic event that “the animal’s behavior did not correspond with how these animals attack in the wild, but rather with how they displace”, the forensic medical report and the prosecution of the case, which is still open, speak of the “aggression” and the “attack” of the orca “Keto”, as the cause of death of trainer Alexis Martinez this past December 24th. The autopsy conducted on the body of the young man details various fractures, injuries, and even the bite marks of the animal, which was also ruled out “according to preliminary data” by the park, located in the municipality of Puerto de la Cruz, The forensic medical report stemming from the autopsy of the body of Alexis Martinez, which ABC had access to, attributes the characteristic of “violent” to the death of the young trainer, 29 years old, and that the injuries inflicted by the orca “Keto”, one of four operating at Loro Parque, are the cause of death. According to the analysis, the immediate cause of death was a “pulmonary edema”, while the fundamental cause of death was “mechanical asphyxiation due to compression and crushing of the thoracic abdomen with injuries to the vital organs”. The examination not only reveals multiple fractures – “the entire anterior rib cage”, sternum, ribs – and injuries – “bruised lungs with rips in the pleura”, “liver with a wide tear” — but also the bite marks of the animal: “The rounded marks of the external exam are compatible with the teeth marks of an orca. The morphology may be partially reduced due to the wetsuit worn by personnel during the work day”, cautions the report. On December 26, two days after the incident, the zoo distributed a written statement in which they invoked the “preliminary data”, and stated that the body “did not present signs of violence, nor hitting or biting, being the lack of oxygen which appears to be the cause of death, ruling out an attack.” However, the preliminary autopsy report, dated the same day as the death of the trainer, already confirmed that it was a “violent death”, and this was corroborated by the subsequent forensic analysis. Three

days later, a new statement from Loro Parque, which then speaks to the injuries and the violence of the event, explains that “at the conclusion of the exercise, Alexis was pushed violently by the orca due to an unexpected reaction from the animal.” In addition, it also states that the trainer of marine mammals “suffered injuries due to compression of the thoracic area, and thus lack of oxygen is the most probable cause of death.” In this same report, Loro Parque states that “in reviewing the details it shows that the behavior of the animal did not correspond with how these marine mammals attack their prey in the wild, but rather with how they displace.” Contradicting this, the report of the ambulance personnel of the Servicio de Urgencias Canario which transported Alexis to the hospital – part of which was included in the forensic medical report – describes a “man of 29 years old, who is in cardio respiratory arrest after suffering an attack from an orca.” Later in the report they surmise that the zoo trainer “suffered injuries from one of the orcas that affected the vital organs, grave injuries that resulted in death.” The witnesses: Also, and as has already been known by this newspaper, the statements of the witnesses of the event, i.e., the rest of the team of trainers at Loro Parque, recount that Alexis was “attacked” by the animal at the moment when he tried to leave the pool. Among the information provided by the colleagues of the young man that form part of the prosecution’s case is that it appears the “the animal did not want to perform the third exercise” of the routine and exhibited a “strange” (or unexpected) behavior. Since the zoo resumed the show, just a few days after the death of the trainer, the trainers have stopped diving into the pool. Just two months later, an orca from Sea World Orlando – to whom the specimens of Loro Parque belong - also attacked and ended the life of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who had befriended Alexis during her visit to the zoo in the north of Tenerife.