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Contact: Jessica Preeg (646) 307-5568 Jessica.Preeg@stmartins.com One of the ―great books‖ of the summer – The Columbus Dispatch
#1 Readers Poll Choice for Summer Books – Wall Street Journal Online ―A gripping inspection…hard to put down‖ – Booklist, Starred Review! ―Lives are at stake here, and Kirby can be trusted to tell the story, having won a passel of awards for his investigative work.‖ -- Library Journal ―Journalist Kirby offers another passionate industry exposé … the narrative goes into high gear with its concluding confrontation.‖ -- Publisher’s Weekly
DEATH AT SEAWORLD
Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity
From the New York Times bestselling author of Evidence of Harm and Animal Factory comes DEATH AT SEAWORLD (St. Martin’s Press; July 17, 2012; Hardcover) a groundbreaking scientific examination that exposes the dark side of SeaWorld, America’s most beloved marine mammal park. From the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, to other, less-publicized violent incidents, journalist David Kirby puts these brutal animal-on-human attacks in context and explores the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity.
DEATH AT SEAWORLD introduces the real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. Kirby follows the story of Naomi Rose Ph.D., marine mammal scientist for The Humane Society of the United States and senior scientist for The Humane Society International, whose warnings
against keeping killer whales in captivity fell on deaf ears. He also covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA vs. SeaWorld case. On May 30, 2012, the judge ruled on this case, stating that trainers performing with huge ocean predators need to be protected by physical barriers, or some other means providing the same level of safety. The strict standard could effectively prevent SeaWorld from ever allowing its trainers to get back into the water during shows with the whales. Kirby also introduces the reader to various killer whales, also known as orcas, (who are actually the world’s largest dolphins) and how they rarely, if ever, harm humans in the wild and are among the smartest animals in the world.
He can discuss the following shocking points: There are no records at any time in history of wild orcas seriously attacking or killing a person, but in captivity, aggressive acts against trainers are not uncommon, sometimes ending in severe injury or death. Some 15% of all orcas ever held in SeaWorld’s collection have been involved in acts of serious aggression against trainers, a dismal safety record that would never be tolerated in other industries. Orcas at SeaWorld have lunged at trainers, pulled them in the water, held them at the bottom of the pool, head-butted them, slammed them with tail flukes and breached on top of them. The 12,000 pound Tilikum – the world’s largest captive predator - killed Canadian trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991, attacked Daniel Dukes, a man who snuck into the tank in 1999 but did not make it out, and brutally killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. To date, SeaWorld has spent $65 million since Dawn Brancheau’s death on high-tech safety features such as quick-rising false bottoms for pools and emergency ―spare air‖ oxygen systems for orca trainers at the Shamu Stadiums in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.
DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, an acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. His work has been featured on Anderson Cooper 360, O Magazine, NPR.org, and many other outlets. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and is available for interviews this summer. You can learn more about DEATH AT SEAWORLD on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DeathAtSeaworld
PRAISE FOR DEATH AT SEAWORLD by DAVID KIRBY
"Killer whales, like chimpanzees, are highly intelligent and intensely social creatures, forming close emotional bonds between family and group members. I have watched them leap in the freedom of the ocean and feel deeply saddened and angered to see them in cruel captivity, swimming endlessly and hopelessly around their sterile concrete prisons. As David Kirby so eloquently documents in this timely work, killer whale captivity only benefits the captors. It is impossible to read Death at SeaWorld and come to any other conclusion." Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace, www.janegoodall.org ―It is sad that this book had to be inspired by the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, but David Kirby has revealed the true heart of this fascinating story of the killer whale, the largest of the dolphins. Accurately, passionately, lovingly and unapologetically, he tells the orcas’ story, but we also meet the humans who have captured them, studied them, trained them, exhibited them, and tried to understand what the author calls (after humans), ―the most socially and ecologically complex animals on earth.‖ This remarkable book deserves to be acknowledged as the most significant and moving account of the often disastrous interaction of cetaceans and humans since Moby-Dick.‖—Richard Ellis, author of Men and Whales, The Empty Ocean, and The Great Sperm Whale ―In this authoritative and superbly investigative page-turner, certain to ruffle feathers and fins, David Kirby traces the tale of scientist-conservationist Naomi Rose pitted against SeaWorld bent on turning a charismatic, intelligent, big-toothed predator — the killer whale, or orca — into its corporate brand. Kirby reports brilliantly on the escalating troubles and conflicts, the surprising and sordid underbelly of life — and death — at SeaWorld.‖— Erich Hoyt, author of the best-selling classic Orca: The Whale Called Killer and Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society ―This is a book everyone should read… David Kirby's Death at SeaWorld outlines in grim detail just how bad captivity is for orcas and other marine mammals.‖—Richard O'Barry, Director of Earth Island Institute's Dolphin Project and star of the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove ―Death at SeaWorld is one of the most important books, if not the most important book, ever written on the horrific plight of captive cetaceans. Focusing on killer whales, the well-known black-and-white icons of life in the sea, David Kirby systematically dismantles every single argument used to justify keeping these incredibly intelligent and sentient beings in the aquatic cages in which they're jammed….‖ --Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
TALKING POINTS for DEATH AT SEAWORLD
TILIKUM AND DAWN BRANCHEAU SeaWorld routinely allowed its most senior trainers to put themselves in extremely vulnerable positions with Tilikum, even though he had already been involved in the death of two people. Some SeaWorld defenders said the incident was Dawn’s fault and she should never have been in such a vulnerable position. But several SeaWorld witnesses at the hearing to overturn the OSHA violation testified that Dawn did not break protocol that day. Despite the clear danger of being in shallow water so close to Tilikum, SeaWorld to this day considers what Dawn was doing when she died to be ―dry work‖ instead of ―water work.‖ SeaWorld had been clearly warned of the risks in allowing water work. Following a serious incident at SeaWorld San Diego in 2006 in which a trainer nearly drowned, the California state OSHA wrote: ―If someone hasn't been killed already, it is only a matter of time before it does happen.‖ SeaWorld successfully exerted its considerable political influence to have the death warning redacted from the final report that was issued in 2007. SEAWORLD’S DISREGARD FOR EMPLOYEES’ SAFETY Two former employees filed sworn affidavits alleging that SeaWorld hid or destroyed documents sought by federal agents in the investigation of Brancheau’s death, and tried to impede other parts of the investigation. (Both whistleblowers subsequently retracted their allegations within a short period of time of each other.) One of the whistleblowers alleged that senior male trainers at Shamu Stadium had sexually harassed female trainers, asking for sexual favors in exchange for more ―water time‖ with the whales. When asked about the matter, SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs did not deny the allegations. SeaWorld was the subject of a lengthy audit and investigation by the US Department of Labor over unfair hiring practices. Government inspectors asserted that more than 1000 qualified African-American and Hispanic applicants had been turned down for employment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited SeaWorld for a ―willful‖ violation of the law in the Brancheau incident and said the company had acted with plain indifference to employee safety. SeaWorld will likely challenge any negative ruling from its appeal to the OSHA violation, which would send the case to Washington, DC, where the ongoing process would pit SeaWorld’s owner, The
Blackstone Group, against US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Blackstone’s CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, is an influential supporter of Mitt Romney and once compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.
DYING TO ENTERTAIN Killer whales in captivity have an annual mortality rate that is 2.5 times higher than killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. Among some pods in the Pacific Northwest, males can live up to 60-70 years, with an average life expectancy of 30, and females can live to 90 or more, with an average life expectancy of 46. Most killer whales at SeaWorld die in their teens and twenties, sometimes under abnormal circumstances. IN ―HUMAN CARE‖ Trainers routinely stuff the gills of fish with antibiotics, antacids and vitamins, and inject them with fresh water, because freezing, storing, thawing and processing fish reduces its nutritional value and fresh water content and stress is a constant concern. Some orcas are given up to 80 pounds of gelatin per day in part to combat dehydration. Some killer whales break and wear down their teeth on metal gates and must have the pulp removed with a power drill. Teeth then must be flushed several times daily to prevent food from causing deadly bacterial infections. One whale was filmed lashing out aggressively in response to trainers trying to jam a wooden block in his mouth in order to control him while performing an endoscopy.
ORCA AGGRESSION There are no records at any time in history of wild orcas seriously injuring or killing a person. Around 15% of all orcas held in SeaWorld’s collection have been involved in acts of serious aggression against trainers, a dismal safety record that would never be tolerated in other industries. Orcas at SeaWorld have lunged at trainers, pulled them in the water, held them at the bottom of the pool, head-butted them, slammed them with tail flukes and breached on top of them. The 12,000 pound Tilikum – the world’s largest captive predator - killed Canadian trainer Keltie Byrne in 1991, surgically opened the scrotum of Daniel Dukes, a man who snuck into the tank in 1999 but did not make it out, and brutally killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Brancheau’s death was more grisly than most realize: part of her arm was torn off, her scalp was ripped away, her sternum was crushed and her liver was lacerated. This was a purposeful killing.
Two months before Brancheau died, trainer Alexis Martinez at Loro Parque in Spain was violently rammed and killed by Keto, an orca on loan from SeaWorld.
ORCA CONSERVATION & SCIENCE Contrary to popular belief, SeaWorld conducts only limited scientific research on killer whales in its collection, and does very little to directly impact wild orca habitat. A careful review of the published, peer-reviewed literature shows that most studies done on SeaWorld’s orcas pertain to the husbandry of captive animals, with little benefit for those in the ocean. SeaWorld does not appear to be active in saving the threatened and endangered orcas of the Pacific Northwest or the wild salmon on which they depend.
BREEDING & INBREEDING SeaWorld’s vaunted orca breeding program has created a legacy of captive killer whales who are closely related to each other in a way that would not happen in the wild. Today many of Tilikum’s descendants are being bred with each other. In one case, a young male was allowed to impregnate his own mother, something that is as socially taboo in wild whales as it is in most human societies. Most captive-bred orcas at SeaWorld are unnatural hybrids – bizarre mixtures of blood from fisheating resident whales and mammal eating transient whales from the Pacific, and Icelandic whales from the North Atlantic.
NO EARLY RETIREMENT Unlike most other animals that generate profit through entertaining humans, killer whales at SeaWorld and other venues are never allowed to retire. They work literally until they die. Six killer whales in US parks were captured from the wild, the last survivors of captures that ended in the 1980s, but their owners refuse to consider allowing them to retire to a sea pen or coastal marine sanctuary where they could be looked after and fed for their remaining years.
ADDITIONAL EXPERTS ON THE CAPTIVITY DEBATE, mentioned in DEATH AT SEAWORLD
Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D is a marine mammal scientist for The Humane Society of the United States and senior scientist for Humane Society International (HSI). She oversees HSI campaigns to protect wild and captive marine mammals and is a member of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee. She has published popular and scientific articles, authored book chapters, and lectures annually at several universities. She participates in workshops and task forces at the international, national and state level. She received her Ph.D. on the social dynamics of killer whales in 1992 from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
John Jett worked as an orca trainer at Sea World of Florida 1992-1996 and worked closely with Tilikum, the animal that has now killed three people, including trainer Dawn Brancheau, whom he knew well. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Environmental Science and Ph.D. in Health and Human Performance with an emphasis on waterway management and marine mammal conservation issues. He has recently been subpoenaed as an expert witness to appear in Federal court on behalf of OSHA against Sea World, and is currently a Visiting Research Professor in Environmental Science and Laboratory Manager for the Biology Department at Stetson. Samantha Berg holds a B.S. in Animal Science from Cornell University and a Masters in Acupuncture from The Traditional Acupuncture Institute in Laurel, MD. Sam was hired at SeaWorld of Florida six months after graduating from college when she was 22-yearsold. Sam worked at the park for 3 1/2 years, from February 1990 to the end of August 1993 and she was working at Shamu stadium when Tilikum arrived in Orlando from Sealand of the Pacific. Sam currently owns an Acupuncture Center in Palmer, Alaska with her husband Kevin. She has appeared on the CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends and on NBC to offer her perspective as an ex-SeaWorld trainer on the ethics of killer whale captivity and trainer safety. Sam is now opposed to keeping marine mammals in captivity and feels, for the sake of all the animals she worked with, that it's important to work to end the practice of keeping these sensitive, intelligent animals in perpetual confinement for the sake of human entertainment and profit. Carol Ray earned a B.A. degree in Psychology from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, after which she worked for several years training cetaceans at Sea World of Florida. Of her 3+ years at Sea World (dec 1987- dec 1990), she spent approximately 2 years and 6 months working at Shamu Stadium with orcas, and 6 months at the multi-species Whale and Dolphin stadium. As a former killer whale trainer who is no longer involved in the industry, she offers a unique perspective on captivity and marine parks. As a lover of marine life and an extensive traveler, she cherishes the opportunities she has had to experience whales and dolphins in their natural environment, around the world, including but not limited to the Puget Sound, the Sea of Cortez, the Great Barrier Reef, areas around New Zealand, Hawaii, the Andaman Sea, Polynesia, and many sites in the Caribbean. After devoting decades of her life to helping children, and families with children who have developmental and communication delays, she is now delighted to have the time and opportunity to begin repaying the debt she feels she owes to the beloved animals she spent time working with. Jeffrey Ventre is a medical doctor that specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). He worked as a trainer at SeaWorld from 1987 - 1995, spending seven of the eight years with cetaceans. Although he is now an opponent of captivity, his favorite whales at
SeaWorld were Taima and Katina whom he performed with regularly in 1994 and 1995. In June of 1996 he participated in "Orca Survey" with Ken Balcomb and Dr Astrid van Ginneken. Seeing free-ranging killer whales radically altered his perspective. In 2011 he co-authored a paper with John Jett PhD which describes the health issues and decreased lifespans of captive orcas.
ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR DEATH AT SEAWORLD: ―This is one helluva book! David Kirby provides the most complete and accurate account of what I perceive as a transgression of morality toward the animal kingdom – the slavery of orcas, supreme beings in the aquatic world. And he personalizes it for us. Many of us have a deep appreciation of, and a deep compassion for, animals; and those whose favorite animals are killer whales are perhaps at the deepest end of the spectrum. Maybe someday Death at SeaWorld will be translated into whale-speak and broadcast throughout the oceans, seeking forgiveness. Until then, our actions must speak for ourselves.‖ --Ken Balcomb, Director, Center for Whale Research, Friday Harbor, WA ―Death at SeaWorld will become one of the most pivotal books in the orca captivity debate for years to come, and may well be the catalyst we have all been waiting for towards seeing an end to this cruelty. At last, both sides of the story behind the events at SeaWorld are being told and the truth is finally getting out there. Every budding orca trainer should consider this the must-read book of their career.‖ --Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, Founder & Principal Scientist, Orca Research Trust "Entertaining, engaging and enraging - The fairy tale fantasy that the captivity dolphin industry has spun for the unwary public is expertly unraveled in this non-fiction crime thriller. Animal advocate Naomi Rose, who has lived in the wild with killer whales, is the real-life heroine in the battle against the tragedy known as the captive dolphin industry.‖ —Louie Psihoyos, photographer and Academy Award winning director of The Cove
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