“Intentions of Whale in Killing Are Debated”
Damien Cave, New York Times.com reports on the tragic death of Dawn Branchea a 40 year old trainer for Tilikum, known as Tilly a 12,000 pound orca whale at Sea World in Florida.
Homicide investigators stated that, “There were no signs of foul play on the part of anyone other than the whale, but questions about the mammal’s intent continued to linger” ( Cave).
According to witnessed reports, Ms. Branchea was grabbed by her hair while she stood in shallow water and was dragged into a deep pool. Video of Tilly taken before the drowning shows he was excited or agitated depending on one’s point of view (Cave).
Although some are saying that the whale was simply playing and this was indeed an accident, others, like Richard Ellis a marine conservationist from the American Museum of Natural History says that “whales like Tilly are too smart to have been purely acting out of impulse. Pulling Ms. Branchea into the water was not an accident.” He further stated that, “This was not an insane, uncontrollable act, this was premeditated (Cave).”
This debate regarding the whales intent is fascinating to me, was this whale so stressed out that he really intentionally attacked this trainer? If he indeed is that intelligent and can plan a “murder”, should he be held responsible? I feel it would be another tragedy to euthanize this whale as he certainly did not ask to be captured and held in captivity performing in shows. We as humans are supposed to be the most intelligent creatures, yet we bring these whales into captivity and then expect them to behave how we want them to and not like what their instinct tells them. This tragedy in my opinion is the fault of humans not the whale. We are responsible for this.