SeaWorld Thinks Trainer’s Death Irrelevant, Tries to Have Case Dismissed

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Jim Atchison, President and C.E.O. of SeaWorld

According to this news report, SeaWorld tried to get the case against them dismissed yesterday on the grounds that Dawn Brancheau (the trainer who was attacked and killed by the killer whale Tilikum last year) died moments after the show was officially over:

But in a shocking move this morning, SeaWorld attorneys asked the Judge not to consider her death in his ruling, because it happened at the conclusion of a “Dine with Shamu” show. Attorney Carla Gunnin said even though there was still a crowd, “the announcer had already told them the show was over.”
Brancheau’s widower Scott, who has been in the courtroom for all the proceedings, was visibly upset at the notion. The timing of the death is important, because OSHA’s citation only deals with trainers interaction with whales during shows.

Laughably, SeaWorld then trotted out lead trainer Jenny Mairot, who said that Tilikum (known to have killed three people) is “the most congenial, easy-going, predictable whale” she had ever worked with.
Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel reports that:

[Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld Orlando’s curator of animal training] testified that Tilikum had never before exhibited any behavior in which he attempted to grab or pull anyone and that the whale had been “desensitized,” or conditioned not to react, to trainers’ ponytails. (SeaWorld says Tilikum pulled Brancheau into his pool by her long ponytail, though OSHA has argued she was actually grabbed by her arm.)
Black pointed out that SeaWorld had seen other whales grab at trainers, such as in a 1999 incident in which a whale pulled a trainer into the water by her dangling sweatshirt. The incident prompted SeaWorld Orlando to require all trainers to be wearing only their wetsuits when working with the whales.
Black also argued that the only way SeaWorld “knew” Tilikum was desensitized to hair was the fact that it repeatedly exposed trainers’ hair to him and that he hadn’t yet grabbed it.

If SeaWorld is confident that their whales are desensitized to ponytails, why did three trainers Including Jenny Mairot have theirs cut off following Dawn’s death?
These trainers no doubt miss their colleague who died, and generously donated their hair to support the Dawn Brancheau Foundation – still, SeaWorld reportedly has made it a requirement that long hair must be in a bun or otherwise contained.
It is a tacit acknowledgement on SeaWorld’s part that they can’t guarantee the safety of their trainers, because they have now had to eliminate all clothing other than wet suits on their trainers, and now have eliminated ponytails on the trainers as well.
What is next?
Or rather, who is next?

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