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) a groundbreaking scientific thriller 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 human-on-animal attacks in context and explores the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity in DEATH AT SEAWORLD.
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 marine biologist and animal advocate Naomi Rose at the Humane Society of the US, 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 case that may spell the end of having trainers in the water with the ocean’s top predators.
Kirby also introduces the reader to various killer whales, or 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.
All members of groups such as the Animal Welfare Institute, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, In Defense of Animals, and, of course, The HSUS were almost universally despised at SeaWorld.”
– Excerpt from David Kirby article published in HSUS ‘All Animals’ magazine July/August 2012
David discloses 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.
- You can see video of a serious aggression incident by the killer whale Kasatka against her SeaWorld San Diego trainer Ken Peters in 2006
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
If ever there were an industry literally dying to entertain you, then surely this is it. Kirby’s thought-provoking account exposes the dark side of a business that leaves the reader in little doubt that sometimes you just need to shake your head and walk away.”
— Rob Lott, orca researcher and captivity campaign manager, WDCS
BOOK TOUR INFO
July 17, 2012, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT
Barnes & Noble – Tribeca
97 Warren Street, New York, N.Y.
Friday Harbor, Washington
July 21, 2012, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. PDT
Friday Harbor House
130 West Street, Friday Harbor, Wash.
July 23, 2012, 7:30-10:00 p.m. PDT
7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Wash.
San Francisco, California
July 25, 2012, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. PDT
901 Mission Street, Suite 105, San Francisco, Calif.
San Diego, California
November 10, 2012, time TBA
American Cetacean Society 13th International Conference
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay
1441 Quivira Road
San Diego, Calif.
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Santa Cruz, CA