ORLANDO — Despite the raucous approval of over 2,000 paying customers, SeaWorld’s trainers and killer whales said after the recent death of trainer Dawn Brancheu, they had just one thing on their minds: redemption.
“We want to make Dawn’s death the start of a new dawn” one whale reported through a translator.
The shocking nature of Wednesday’s lethal incident drew equally philosophic responses from the deceased’s fellow trainers.
“We have a sign in the locker room that says, ‘Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.’ What we sometimes forget is that pain usually means death, which actually is forever.”
Orcas, popularly known as killer whales, are actually dolphins; a word that hardly conjures up images of ferocity. Some killer whale advocates fear this week’s tragedy may prove a setback for the public’s perception of the orca.
According to A. Judith Cringeman, professor of Mammalian Discrimination History at UC Berkeley and author of When They were Called Blackfish: Killer Whale Images in the Media, orca on human violence is “quite rare,” and their image as underwater menaces merely “the ugly remnant of 19th century whaling stereotypes.”
In response to the fatality at Wednesday’s show, California Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi vowed to assemble a Killer Whale Task Force to investigate allegations of negligence on the part of SeaWorld officials. On Friday the Speaker’s office released a statement saying, “This is the legacy of killer whale deregulation.”
But as Saturday’s undaunted spectators piled into the stands, SeaWorld’s team of killer whale trainers vowed to drown out the noise and get back to the business of aquatic stunt work. A handful said they planned to wear black goggles in honor of their fallen peer, leaving some to wonder if swimming blind in a pool full of killer whales might not lead to more deaths.