By Tim Zimmermann
On February 24, 2010, Tilikum, the most important killer whale at SeaWorld, without warning dragged sunrise Brancheau, his coach, into the pool and killed her. Journalist Tim Zimmermann got down to discover why. His riveting account of Tilikum's lifestyles, and the historical past of killer whale leisure at marine parks, dives into the realm of the ocean's best predator. It chronicles Tilikum's seize and separation from his kin, and the actual and mental tension he skilled in marine park swimming pools over a few 30 years. It explores Tilikum's involvement in earlier deaths. And it information the inherent dangers of utilizing captive killer whales for human leisure. finally, Zimmermann explains how the lifetime of Tilikum got here to intend the loss of life of sunrise Brancheau.
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Extra resources for Killer in the Pool
One moment he had her by the foot, another by the back collar of her wet suit. Her water shoes came off and floated to the surface. “He started pushing her with his nose like she was a toy,” Paula Gillespie, one of the visitors at the underwater window, recalled. Some of the children who were watching began to cry. SeaWorld employees urgently ushered guests away. ” one asked. Tilikum kept dragging Brancheau through the water, shaking her violently. Finally – 20 minutes after he first grabbed the trainer and now holding her by her arm - he was guided onto the medical lift.
It was not the only reason [SeaWorld] had interest but definitely a part of the decision,” said Mark Simmons, who worked as a trainer at SeaWorld from 1987 to 1996 and was part of a team sent to Sealand to manage Tilikum’s transfer. Media reports at the time pegged Tilikum’s price at $1 million. If Sealand was like a McDonald’s, SeaWorld Orlando was like a five-star restaurant, with 220 acres of custom marine habitats, thrill rides, eateries, and a 400-foot Sky Tower. There were 7 different killer whale pools, including the enormous Shamu show pool, and 7 million gallons of continuously filtered salt water kept at an orca-friendly 52 to 55 degrees.
Yet no matter how nice the facility, there’s stress associated with being a big mammal in a relatively small pool. Starting at Sealand, Tilikum had developed the habit of grinding his teeth against metal pool gates. Many of his teeth were so worn and broken that SeaWorld vets decided to drill some of them so they could be regularly irrigated with antiseptic solution. And once again, he had to deal with the stress of hostile females, particularly a dominant orca called Katina. “Tili was a good guy that got beat down by the women,” Ventre, now a doctor in New Orleans, recalled.
Killer in the Pool by Tim Zimmermann