Stupid Human Tricks

When Tilly the whale drowned one of his trainers during a show at Sea World Orlando, he became the latest animal demonstrating what might be called frustration with being held in captivity. 

Tilly’s attack brought to mind Montecore the tiger.  Montecore attacked and nearly killed Roy of Siegfried and Roy during a stage show in 2003.  No one gave much credence to Siegfried’s claim that Montecore nearly severed Roy’s jugular because he was trying to save him.  The public was more in agreement with Chris Rock’s assessment: “That tiger went tiger!”  The attack left Roy permanently disabled.

Captive killer whales — which are actually dolphins — live shorter lives in captivity than in the wild, and are known to attack their handlers.  That hasn’t stopped Sea World from insisting that Tilly is harmless, even though Tilly has been implicated in at least two other human deaths.  Officials at Sea World were quick to assure the public that Sea World would never knowingly put its trainers in harm’s way, and that keeping Tilly in captivity is important to avoid paying a huge wrongful death claim to the family of the trainer, since euthanizing the animal would tend to prove that it was too dangerous for animal research. 

Since the attack, the following theories have been put forth about Tilly’s “intentions”:

1. The “Long Hair Don’t Care” Theory:  Tilly was distracted by the trainer’s long blonde ponytail, so he grabbed it.  

Why, to give her a scrunchie?  This sounds a lot like the claim that Montecore the tiger got “distracted” by something in the audience just before he grabbed Roy by the neck.  In both cases, the distraction theory makes no sense.

2. The “I Get Lonely” Theory: Tilly was bored and lonely in captivity, so he wanted someone to play with. 

If an orca was bored and lonely, wouldn’t you think he’d seek out another orca, rather than a human female?

3. The “Me So Horny” Theory:  Tilly was trying to get his freak on with the trainer.

Tilly is quite the swordsman — having sired 14 calves, he is Sea World’s top stud.  By now, you’d think he’s figured out how this whale sex thing works.   Besides, have your naughty parts ever tingled with excitement after watching a whale or dolphin show?  We don’t excite them, either.

4. The “I’se Ti’ed” or “Going Postal” Theory

This one says that the whale was pissed off because it was tired and overworked, and just snapped.  No duh.

5. The “Did I Do That?” Theory:  Tilly intended to pull the trainer into the water, but he didn’t necessarily intend the result. 

Supporters of this theory point to the fact that a killer whale can “tear apart a blue whale.”  Well, that may be true, but this trainer was no blue whale.  Killer whales are not known to prey on humans (perhaps because humans do not live in the icy waters of the Pacific), but killer whales in captivity– including Tilly himself — have been known to attack and kill their handlers.  Killer whales use a variety of techniques to disable and then destroy their prey.  No doubt orcas know that humans can’t breathe underwater. 

6. The “Because It’s a Freaking Killer Whale” Theory

This, of course, is the only theory that makes sense.  Why did Tilly kill the trainer?  Because he could.  As columnist Mansfield Frazier said on The Daily Beast:

“They are supposed to be swimming free in their natural environment, not imprisoned in a tank and reduced to mere things that folks pay to gawk at. And no matter how much ‘training’ they receive, their nature can never be changed; they can always, like lions and tigers and bears, revert back to their instinctive behaviors, where anything that is not of their species is either a threat … or lunch.”

We don’t know if Tilly would have eaten the trainer if left to his own devices.   He may have been hungry.  He may have just been tired of performing tricks and having the trainer shovel dead fish into his mouth as rewards for performing some tricks.  It doesn’t matter.  Orcas are wild, predatory animals, and their reasons for killing are not our reasons.

At some point, one hopes that people — and by “people” I mean the owners of zoos, aquariums, aquatic shows, circuses, and the public that keeps these venues in business — realize that capturing wild animals for display, breeding them in captivity, and training them to perform tricks, is wrong.  It is wrong because it is against the animals’ nature, and forcing them to do things they were not born to do will eventually backfire. 

Tigers do not want to perform on stage in Las Vegas, chimps do not want to live in houses and drink wine, and killer whales do not want to swim around in large swimming pools and be ridden by women with long blonde hair.  Until humans figure this out, it is only a matter of time until we learn the “name” of yet another animal who has attacked or killed its human captor, to be followed by completely idiotic excuses for why the animal behaved like an animal.

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3 Responses to “Stupid Human Tricks”

  1. OneChele Says:

    OMG – I’m laughing even though I know it’s tragic blonde trainer chick is dead. This is the best “When Animals Attack” re-cap I’ve ever read.

  2. The Montana Problem « Carolyn A. Edgar Says:

    […] sex tape with a boyfriend — into a legitimate mainstream career of any sort.  Tilly the amorous killer whale has a better shot at being the next Kim Kardashian than Montana does.  Danielle Belton, aka The […]

  3. The Montana Problem | carolynedgar.com Says:

    […] sex tape with a boyfriend — into a legitimate mainstream career of any sort.  Tilly the amorous killer whale has a better shot at being the next Kim Kardashian than Montana does.  Danielle Belton, aka The […]

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