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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Blackfish: The Truth Behind Keeping Marine Animals Captive
Aired October 24, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She actually have a trainer in the water with one of our whales, the whale that -- they're not suppose to be in the water with?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We'll get somebody enroute and ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enter gate number 3, the Shamu stadium.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gate 3.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) are you sure about this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need SOA (ph) to respond for a death (inaudible) in the SeaWorld. There's a whale who ate one of the trainers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A whale ate one of the trainers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.
JOHN HARGROVE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: My parents first brought me to a SeaWorld park when I was very young. From that point forward, I was hooked. It meant everything to me because, you know, I've never wanted anything more.
SAMANTHA BERG, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I remember, you know, being probably in first or second grade, watching National Geographic Specials or Mutual of Omaha's specials and seeing whales and seeing dolphins. And you know, as a little kid, just being really incredibly inspired by it. I never went to Sea World. I grew up in New York so I went to the Bronx Zoo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I grew up on a lake with horses. We'd swim the horses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up around the ocean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came from the middle of the country in flat land Kansas.
MARK SIMMONS, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I'm from Virginia, travel down, did the theme park thing in Orlando when I was 17 and saw the night show at Shamu Stadium, very emotional, you know, popular music and I was just -- I was very driven to one who do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I saw what the trainers did. And I said, "That's what I want to do."
DEAN GORNERSALL, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: One of the trainers there and do, "What are you doing out there, you should be a trainer?" I know how to train animals and they are training in almost my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you prepare yourself for an encounter with an 8,000 pound Orcinus orca?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always thought you needed like a Master's Degree in marine biology to be a trainer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes years of study and experience to meet the strict requirements necessary to interact in the water with Shamu.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come to find out, it really is more about your personality and how good you can swim.
GORNERSALL: I went to try out, got the job by the way. I'm like, yeah, I'm so excited and I was so, so excited.
BERG: I really wanted to be there. I really wanted to do the job. I couldn't wait to get in the water with the animals. I really was proud of being a SeaWorld trainer. You know, I thought this was the most amazing job.
CAROL RAY, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I showed up there on my first day, not really knowing what to expect. I was told to put on wet suit and get in the water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi mom.
RAY: I was scared. I hold my wits.
SIMMONS: First of all, I put my wet suit on backwards because I was raised on -- in a farm in Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi dad.
SIMMONS: My first part in memory at that time was that dolphins are a lot bigger than they look when you get in the water next to him.
GORNERSALL: Well, I watch the sea lion under show and that is kind of Mike Morocco. He comes out during the show with the dress on as Dorky, the alter ego of Dorothy, getting dressed with a sea lion -- the coward sea lion, right. He's walking along with his little basket. I go, "I will never ever do that, you know." Two months later, "Hi, I'm Dorky," walking out on stage with the sea lion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was overwhelmed and I was so excited. I mean, just seeing a killer whale is breathtaking.
JOHN JETT, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I was just in awe. It's shocking to see how large they are and how beautiful they are.
BERG: Being, you know, in the presence of the killer whale, it was just inspiring and amazing and I remember seeing them for the first time, it's not being able to believe how huge they were.
You're there because you want to train killer whales and that's your goal. I didn't know what's going to happen so I wasn't expecting it. And one day, they say "OK Sam, you're ready to go."
BERG: Rise Dotty (ph).
You're going to stand on the whale, you're going to dive off the whale. The whale's going to swim under you and pick you up again then you're going do a criminal (ph) rider on the floor.
They just told me to go do it and I did it. Wow, I just rode a killer whale.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look into their eyes, you know somebody is home, somebody is looking back. You form a very personal relationship with your animal.
SIMMONS: There is something absolutely amazing about working with an animal. You are a team and you build a relationship together and you both understand the goal and you help each other.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like this whale she's probably 18 years old. I've seen her half up. We've grown up together.
SIMMONS: That's the joy I got out of it is this is a relationship like I've never had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I come back and have Sinatra (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bro, I have to know, are you nervous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice hair Jeff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you see anything?
JEFFREY VENTRE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I knew Dawn when she was new. She's a great person to work with and she obviously blossomed into one of the SeaWorld's best trainers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Dawn Brancheau. Dawn is the senior trainer here at Shamu Stadium.
VENTRE: I guess you could say I kind of knew Dawn the past life. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a tough job, isn't it?
DAWN BRANCHEAU: Yes, we really do go to a lot of physical exertion, you can see in the show. You do a lot of deep water work, breath hold and very high energy behaviors with the animals. Obviously, they're given a lot of energy too but we're working together and have long fun as well.
BERG: She's beautiful. She's blonde. She's athletic. She is friendly. You know, everybody loves Dawn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I mean this is sincerely, I've been watching you performing yesterday. You're amazing.
BRANCHEAU: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You really are.
BERG: She captured what it means to be a SeaWorld trainer. She had so much experience that it made me realize what happened to her really could have happen to anyone.
REVERE: This is Detective Revere at Orange County Sherriff's office. Today's date is February 24, 2010, the time is 4:15. In the room with me right now is Thomas George Tobin, is that correct?
THOMAS TOBIN, SEAWORLD PARAMEDIC: Correct.
REVERE: Did you see any blood in the water or anything like that?
TOBIN: Well, that's part of it -- she was scalped and there was no blood.
TOBIN: So, pretty much we knew then that the heart wasn't beating.
REVERE: Once they were able to pull her away, how did he let go of the ...
TOBIN: He didn't.
REVERE: He never let go of the ...
TOBIN: The arm?
REVERE: ... the arm.
TOBIN: He swallowed it.
REVERE: He swallowed it? So the arm Is nowhere.
TOBIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) in behalf of the federal government. He is basically suggesting that swimming with orcas is inherit the dangers and that you can't completely predict the outcome when you enter the water or enter their environment.
DAVE DUFFUS, OSHA EXPERT WITNESS, WHALE RESEARCHER: I said cracks (ph) in the Osha case. Stay out of proximity with the animals and you won't get killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- It will have a ripple effect to the whole industry. This was national headline news.
MARTHA SUGALSKI: SeaWorld's whale performances may never be the same.
JIM PAYNE: But right now, the theme park is arguing in court to keep whale trainers in the water something OSHA says is extremely dangerous.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: These are wild animals and they are unpredictable because we don't speak whale. We don't speak whale. We don't speak tiger. We don't speak monkey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And temper has slurred between the two sides today when OSHA's attorney suggested that SeaWorld only made changes after trainer Dawn Brancheau's death outraged the public.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OSHA doesn't want the trainers going back in the water without a physical barrier between them and the whales.
DAVID KIRBY, AUTHOR, "DEATH IN SEAWORLD": Being in close proximity to this top predators is too dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They won't then be getting in the water riding on the whales things like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you were on a bathtub for 25 years, don't you think you get a little irritated, aggravated, maybe a little psychotic?
DUFFUS: The situation of Dawn Brancheau, it didn't just happen. It's not a singular event. You have to go back over 20 years to understand this.
JOHN CROWE, DIVER: One of the real exciting thing to do until everybody want to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were they telling you you're going to do?
CROWE: Capture orcas.
HOWARD GARRETT, ORCA RESEARCHER: They've had air craft. They had spotters. They had speedboats. They had bombs they were throwing in the water. They were lighting their bombs with acetylene torches in their boats and throwing those as fast they could to herd the whales into coves. But the Orcas have been caught before and they knew what was going on and they knew their young ones would be taken from them.
So the adults without young went East into cul-de-sac. And the boats followed them thinking they were all going that way while the mothers with babies went north but they captured king side (ph) aircraft. And they have to come up rear eventually and when they did, the capture teams alerted the boats and said, "Oh, no, they're going north -- the ones with babies."
So the boats, the speedboats caught them there and hurtled them in. And then they had fishing boats with same nets that they would spread across so none could leave and they could just pick out the young ones.
CROWE: We're only after the little ones. And the little ones, you know, also big animals still but I was told because of shipping cost that's why they only take the little ones.
GARRETT: They had -- the young ones that they wanted in the corals -- so they dropped the same nets and all the others could have left but they stayed.
CROWE: Whether they're trying to get the young Orca in the decker and the whole fam-damn-ly is out here 25 yards away maybe in a big lawn and they're communicating back and forth. Well, you understand then what you're doing, you know. I loft it. I mean, I just in turn crying. I didn't stop working but I, you know, just couldn't handle it -- just like kidnapping a little kid away from his mother. Everybody is watching, what can you do? But the worst thing that I could think of, you know, I can't think of being worst than that. Now, it does really sounds bad.
But when the whole hunt was over, there were three dead whales in the net. And so, they had Peter (ph) and Brian (ph), and I cut the whales open fill them with rocks and put anchors on their tail and sink them. Well, you know, really, I didn't even think about it being illegal at that point. I thought it was the PR thing.
GARRETT: They were finally ejected from the state of Washington by a court order in 1976. It was SeaWorld by name that was told, "Do not come back to Washington to capture whales." Without missing a beat, they went from Washington to Iceland and began capturing there.
CROWE: I've been part of the revolution to change the presidents in Central and South America. And seen some things that are hard to believe, but this is the worst thing that I've ever done, is hunt that whale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sealand is part of Victoria for over 20 years. They specialized in the care and display of killer whales.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: : By the time I started and he was four. He was up to 16 feet long and weight 4,000 pounds.
KAN BATCOMB, DIRECTOR: I haven't actually seen Tilikum quite a number of times. He was right across the street here in Victoria.
All Sealand was a net hanging in a marina with a float around it. .
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: : Tilikum was the one we really love to work with. He is very well-behaved and it was always eager to please.
STEVE HUXTER, FORMER DIRECTOR: When he is first introduced Tilikum just went fine and dandy (ph), but the previous head trainer used techniques that involved punishment with team, a trained Orca up with Tilikum who was untrained.
He would send them both off to do the same behavior. If Tilikum didn't do it, then both animals were punished.
Deprive of food to keep them hungry, this caused a lot of frustration with the larger animal that in establish animal and would in turn get frustrated with Tilikum and with rake him with his teeth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There would be times during certain seasons that Tilikum would be covered head to toe with rakes. Rakes are teeth on teeth and raking the skin and from head to toe you could see blood and you could see scratches and he would just be raked up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both females would gang up on him. Tilikum was the one we trusted. We never were concerned about Tilikum.
The issue was really that we store these whales at night in what we call a modular which was 20 feet across and probably 30 feet deep, as a safety precaution because were worried about people cutting the net and letting them go, and the lights were all turned out.
So, literally no stimulation they're just in this dark metal 20 foot by 30 foot pool for two thirds of their life.
HUXTER: When we first started they were quite small and quite young. So they fit in their quite nicely, but they're immobile for the most part.
It didn't feel good. It just didn't and it was just wrong.
CHRISTOPHER PORTER: We started having difficult in getting them all into this one small steel box to be honest that's what it was. It was a floating steel box.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where food deprivation would come in. We would hold back food and they would know if they were in the module that they would get their food. So they're hungry now, they're going go in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And during the winter that would be from 5 at night till 7 in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you let them out, you see these new two streaks and sometimes you see blood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Closing that door on him and knowing that he's locked in there for the whole night is like, (inaudible) into.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if that is true, that's not only, you know, inhumane and I'll tell him so but it probably led to what I think is a psychosis that he was on here (inaudible) kill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An employee is dead after an encounter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here at the Canadian park called Sealand of the Pacific.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victim Keltie Byrne was a championship swimmer and a part-time worker at Sealand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: AS seen at this home video, rescuers used the huge net to try -- the workers' efforts were hindered by the agitated whale.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to make the (inaudible) Pacific team this summer but my more media goes just to swim fast and (inaudible)
NADINE KATLEN: It was sort of cloudy grey day and we were looking for something to do, so we -- why not go to Sealand, it was kind of like this dingy pool with these whales and ...
CORINNE COWELL: It just felt a little bit of like an amusement park that was kind of one of glass place (ph) and everything was a bit grey.
KATLEN: Yeah. It was like a swimming pool.
COWELL: Yeah, yup.
KATLEN: You know, dirty whales in a swimming pool.
COWELL: No, and they would come up and touch the ball and there was, I think there was some tail splashing and there was some ...
KATLEN: Some jumping ...
COWELL: Of the fish and ...
KATLEN: And they hold the fish and the whales jump up. I remember saying, "Oh, what a fun job," you know, she's still lucky, and then I saw her walking with her rubber boots and she tripped and her foot just dipped into the edge of the pool and she lost her balance and fell in and then she was pushing her way up to get out of the pool and the whales zoomed over, grab her boot and pulled her back in. At first I didn't think it was that serious because you see the trainer in the pool with the whale and you think, "Oh, well, you know, the whales are used to that," and you know, and then all of a sudden, they had started getting -- there is more swimming, more activity, more trashing, and then she was starting to get panicked and then as it progressed, you started to realize, well, some thing is not right here.
COWELL: She started to scream and she started looking around and her eyes were like bigger and bigger and realizing that I really am in trouble here.
KATLEN: And then they would pull her under and then they would come up and then when she -- they came up she'd be, "Help me, help me," and then they take her down again.
COWELL: And she would be submerged for several seconds up to -- I don't know maybe a minute, you don't -- you're not keep in tracked.
KATLEN: So, you know, it was harder and harder for her to, you know, get that air in because she was screaming and my sister remembers her saying, "I don't want to die."
Well, condolences to Keltie's family.
COWELL: Yeah. That we couldn't help her. It's pretty wretched.
DUFFUS: The Sealand close well, it's probably a good thing, I mean, it was a little pond and I think the owner, you know, made the right decision for whatever reasons. I don't believe he's a bad guy, a bad man, and then he was shocked by the whole affair too.
HUXTER: The blush was gone from the business and he decided that was it, we should shut (ph) down.
KATLEN: And no one ever contacted us, there was an inquest, no one ever asked us to say what happened, you know, we just left.
DUFFUS: You know, there was no big lawsuits afterwards and there's no memorial and, you know, the only thing remain in of Keltie Byrne is, you know, what's left in the folk's minds who recall the case.
KATLEN: So in the newspaper articles, the cause of death was that she drowned accidentally, but you know, she was pulled under by the whale.
DUFFUS: Well, there's a bit of smoking mirrors (ph) going on, I mean one of the fundamental facts is that none of the witnesses were clear about which whale pulled Keltie in.
KATLEN: Yes, yeah, it was the large whale Tilikum, the male is the one that went after her, and the other two just kind of circled around but he was definitely the instigator and we knew it was that whale because he had the flapped over fin like it was very easy to tell. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sealand of Pacific closed its doors and was looking I guess to make a bulk on the way out and these whales are worth millions of dollars.
BERG: When SeaWorld heard that Tilikum was available after this accident at Sealand of the Pacific they really wanted Tilikum because they needed a breather. So, I don't even think that anybody even was questioning like, is this a good idea?
HUXTER: My understanding of the situation was that Tilikum and the others would not be used in a show, they would not performance animals, our understanding of their behavior was that it was such a highly stimulating event for them that they were likely to repeat it.
PORTER: The Sealand was -- we were all young and a bit of sea cowboys and a bit -- we weren't so technical only scientific at the SeaWorld. So, we all have this vision that they knew more than us and they were better than us and Tilikum would have a bigger pool, and he would have a better life, then he would have a better care, and he would have better food, and be a great life for him.
So, it was like, "OK Tili you're going to Disneyland. Lucky you."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Orca's intelligence maybe even superior to man's. As parents they are exemplary other than many human beings, unlike human beings they have a profound instinct for vengeance. Dino De Laurentiis presents, "Orca".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARRETT: If you go back only 35 years, we knew nothing in fact less than nothing. What the public had was superstition and fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between the two most dangerous animals on earth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What in hell are you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARRETT: These were the vicious killer whales that, you know, have 48 sharp teeth that would rip to shreds if they got a change.
What we learn is that they are amazingly friendly and understanding and intuitively want to be your companion.
And to this day there is no record of an Orca doing any harm to any human in the wild. They lived in these big families. And they have life spans very similar to human life spans. The females can live to about a hundred maybe more. Males to about 50 or 60, but the adult offspring never leave their mother's side.
Each community has a completely different set of behaviors. Each has a complete repertoire of vocalizations with no overlap. And you can call them languages the scientific community is reluctant to say any another animal but humans uses languages, but there's every indication that they use languages.
LORI MARINO, NEUROSCIENTIST: The Orca brain just screens out intelligence awareness. We took this tremendous brain and we put in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, what we found is just astounding. They've got a part in the brain that humans don't have. A part of their brain has extended out right adjacent to their limbic system. The system processes emotions.
The safest inference would be these are animals that have highly elaborated emotional lives. It's becoming clear that dolphins and whales have a sense itself, a sense of social bonding that they've taken to another level much stronger, much more complex than another mammals including humans.
We looked at mass trendings (ph) the fact that they stand by each other. Everything about them is social, everything. It's been suggested that their whole sense of self is distributed among the individuals in their group.
(BEGIM VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five of them. This Orca are going to attack this sea lion, cave in, breaking the ice off and swimming around. Oh, here they come. Two of them Look it underneath them. You can se them underneath. They made a big wave. Look at that, big wave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God, no. No. Oh, I can't stand it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't watch the bull fight. You better leave. Here they go. Look at this, three of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God. Oh, no. Oh, God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Not quite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it's all over. It's all over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUFFUS: The first nation's vehicle and, you know, fishermen from the a coast, they call him blackfish. There are an animal that possesses great spiritual power and not to be meddled with.
I spent a lot of time around killer whales. They're always in charge (ph). I never get out of the boat. I never mess with them. The speed and the power is quite amazing. Rules are the same as (inaudible) one foot on the floor at all times.
Even after seeing them thousands of times. You see them and you still, you know, wake up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VENTRE: He arrived I think in 1992. I was at well in the (ph) on dolphin stadium when he arrived and he's twice as large as the next animal in the facility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is right in about 12,000 pounds. That's incredible. He looks fantastic.
JETT: When until it came arrived at SeaWorld, he was attacked viciously, repeatedly by Catina (ph) and others. In the wild, it's a very matriarchal society, male whales are kept at the perimeter. In captivity, animals are squeezed into very close proximity.
Tilikum, the poor guy is so large. He couldn't get away because he just as not as immobile relative to the smaller and more agile females. And where is he going to run, there's no place to run.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he spent a lot of time in isolation. And SeaWorld it claims, "No, no, he's always in with the other -- with the females," but I mean, you know, from what I thought he was mostly put with the females for breeding purposes. And he didn't spend a lot of time, you know, with the other whales.
JETT: It's for his own protection, you know, he gets beat up and so by segregating him it provides a physical barrier so that females can't kick his butt.
VENTRE: Tilikum is pretty much kept in the back and then brought out at the very end like the big splash.
He was always happy to see in the morning. Maybe because he was alone, maybe because he was hungry and maybe because he just like you, who knows what was going on in his head.
BERG: He seemed to like to work, he seemed to be interested, he seemed to want to learn new things. He seemed to be enjoying, you know, working with the trainers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He for me it was a, a joy. He really responded to me and I, you know, everyday I wen to work, I was happy to see Tili.
BERG: I never got the impression of him while I was there that, you know, "Oh, my God." You know, he's the scary whale, you know, not at all.
VENTRE: Maybe some of us just are naivete or whatever, you know, because we weren't given the full details of the Keltie situation.
BERG: I was under the impression that Tilikum had nothing to do with her death specifically that it was the female whales responsible for her death. What I found really odd at first was the way they are acting around this whale and what they had told us seemed to me to be two different things.
On the first day he arrived, I remember one of the seniors trainers at, SeaWorld, she -- Tilikum was in a pool and she was blocking over a gate and she had her wet suit unzipped and was tied around her waist. And she was making cooing (ph) noises and going, "Hey, Tilikum, you cute little whale." You know, she was like just, you know, come play talking at him and one of the supervisor said, "Get her out of there." And just screamed at her, you know, like "Get her, get her away from there." Like they were so worried that something was going to happen. And I remember thinking why you guys making such a big deal out of this when he didn't actually kill her.
Well, clearly management thought there was, there was some reason to exercise caution around him. You know, it's clearly they knew more than they were telling us.
Jeff was out in the audience filming one of the Shamu shows. It was a perfect show all of the hotdog sequences, the water works sequences went off great.
VENTRE: I was really excited just to be capturing this because it was kind of turning out to be a great show.
A show that's kind of complete. It doesn't -- it probably when it happens a few times a week.
BERG: At the very end of the show, Liz (ph) was working Tilikum and apparently Tilikum lunged out of the water at her.
VENTRE: And I had captured Tilikum coming out of the water kind of turning sideways and appeared to be to try to grab Liz (ph). And at that moment that the tape became unusable, I was just kind of basically instructed to get rid of the tape.
Wanting to kind of preserve the tape I actually used the editing equipment and like snipped out that little half second or a second when he did that and stitched it back together. So, it's just kind of look like a glitch in the tape and I'm like, "Look at this." And it was like no. This is no longer usable, you know. And so we had to destroy the tape.
VENTRE: It's pretty outrageous that SeaWorld would claim there was no expecting Tilikum would come out of the water because they had witnessed him coming out of the water and it's written into his profile. He lunges at trainers.
RAY: I spewed out the party line during shows. I'm totally mortified now there is like something like look at Namu (ph), you know, and Namu (ph) is not doing that because she has to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY: Namu (ph) is doing that because she really wants to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAY: Oh my gosh. Like some of the things I'm embarrassed by, so embarrassed by.
At the time I think I could have convinced myself that the relationships that we have were built on something stronger than the fact that I'm giving them fish, you know, I like to think that but I don't know if that's the truth.
I had been there awhile and I'd seen a few other things along the way that made me question why I was there and what we were doing with these animals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: November 4th, 1988, a killer whale at SeaWorld gave a performance of a lifetime. Don't miss this small miracle. Come see our new baby Shamu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAY: I know it was naive of me, but I thought that it was our responsibility to do as much as we could to keep their family units together since we knew that in the wild that's what happens.
Kalina (ph) was the first baby Shamu. She had become quite disruptive and challenging her mom a little bit, and disrupting from shows and that kind of thing.
It was decided by the higher ups that she would be moved to another park when she was just four and a half years old and that was new to us as trainers that we're working with her. To me it had never crossed my mind that they might be moving the baby from her mom.
The supervisors basically kind of mocking me like, "Oh, you're saying poor Kalina (ph)?" You know, "What she going to do without her mommy?" And, you know, and that of course to shut me off.
So the night of the move, we had to deploy the net and separate them and got Kalina (ph) the baby into the net pool and Catina (ph) was generally a quiet whale. She was not overly vocal whale.
After Kalina (ph) was removed from the scene and put on the truck and taken to the airport and Catina (ph), her mom, was left on pool. She stayed in the corner of the pool like literally just shaking and screaming -- screeching crying like I'd never seen her do anything like that.
And the other females in the pool maybe once or twice during the night they come out and check on her. And she just screech and cry and they would just run back. There is nothing that you could call that watching it besides grief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are not your whales. You know, you love them and you think I'm the one that touches them, tease them, keeps them alive, gives them the care that they need. They're not your whales. They own them. Kusaka (ph) and Takara we're very close. Kusaka (ph) was the mother, Takara is a calf. Takara was special to me.
They were inseparable. When they separated to Kusaka (ph) and Takara it was to take Takara to Florida. Once Takara had already been stretchered out of the pool, put on the truck, driven to the airport, Kusaka (ph) continued to make the vocals that had never been heard before.
They brought in the senior research scientist to analyze the vocals. They were long range vocals. She was trying something that no one had even heard before looking for Takara. That's heartbreaking.
How can anyone look at that and think that that is morally acceptable. It's not. It is not OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon Richard. The new show is whale and off (inaudible) -- what it does is it shows the relationship we have between all our animals here at the whale ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORNERSALL: There's so many things that were told to us, that they tell us -- they tell you so many times that you just start believing it, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, all the animals here get along very well. It's just like turning your dog really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was blind, you know. I was a kid and I didn't notice I was down really.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERG: Ladies and gentlemen this is David from Maryland. Go ahead and wave at everyone, David.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERG: It just really bought into what they told us. You know, I learned to say what they told us to the audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERG: Hello out here. Children are some of Shamu's biggest fan.
We can do just about anything we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERG: I thought I'd do everything about killer whales when I work there. You know and everything about these animals and really know nothing about killer whales. I know a lot about being an animal trainer or killer whale trainer, but I don't know anything about these animals, their natural history, or their behavior.
I really in some ways believed a lot of way I was learning from them, because why would they lie.
GARRET: Because the whales in their pools die young, they like to say that all Orcas die at 25 or 30 years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 25 to 35 years. 25 to 35 years. There's a documentary that says in the wild they live to be about 35 to mid 30. They tend to live a lot longer in this environment because they have all the veterinary care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARRET: And of course (inaudible). We knew by 1980 after a half a dozen years of the research that they live equivalent to human life spans. And every other potentially embarrassing fact is twisted and turned and denied one way or another.
Like the floppy dorsal fins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 25 percent of whale have fin that turns over like that as they get older.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VEMTRE: Dorsal collapse happens in less than 1 percent of wild killer whales. We know this. All of the captive males, 100 percent have collapsed dorsal fins.
GARRET: And they say that they are family, that the whales are in their family. They have their pods, but that's just the, you know, an artificial assembly that show their collection, however management decides they should mix them in whichever one's happy to be born or bought and brought in or that -- that's not a family, you know, it's a lie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got animals from different cultural subsets that have been brought in from various parks. These are different nations. These aren't just two different killer whales.
These animals they've got different gene, they use different languages. MARINO: Well, what could happen as a result of them being thrown in with other whales that they haven't grown up with, that are not part of their culture, is there's hyper-aggression, a lot of violence, a lot of killing in captivity that you don't ever see in the wild.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the health and safety of the animals, please, do not put your hands in the water.
JOHN JETT, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: There's always sort of this backdrop, this underpinning of tension between animals. Whale-on- whale aggression was just part of your -- you know, the daily existence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ask that you use the stairs and aisleways as you exit. Please, do not step on the seats. These areas may become wet, and therefore slippery to some footwear. Thank you.
JETT: In the wild, when there's tension, they have got thousands of square miles to exit the scene, and they can get away.
You don't have that in captivity.
JEFFREY VENTRE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: Can you imagine being IN a small concrete enclosure for your life, when you're used to swimming 100 miles a day?
JETT: Sometimes, this aggression became very severe, and in fact whales have died in captivity because of this aggression.
VENTRE: I think it was 1988, Kandu trying to assert her dominance over Corky rammed Corky. It fractured her jaw, which cut an artery in her head, and then she bled out. And that's got to be a hard way to go down.
JETT: I saw that there was just a lot of things that weren't right. And there was a lot of misinformation and something was amiss. And I sort of compartmentalized that part of it and did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had to take care of the animals that were there.
And I think all the trainers there have the same thing in their heart. They're trying to make a difference in the lives of the animals. They think that, if I leave, who is going to take care of Tilikum? That's why I stayed. I felt sorry for Tilikum. I mean, if you want to get down to the nuts and bolts of it, I stayed because I felt sorry for Tilikum.
And I couldn't bring myself to stop coming and trying to take care of him.
DAWN BRANCHEAU, TRAINER: Gosh, do I love coming out here every day and having the audience just love what we're doing with the animals. How do I make this animal as beautiful as they are and have people walk away loving this animal? And if they're touched and they're moved, then I feel like I made a difference to them. KIM ASHDOWN, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I left in January of 2010, a month before Dawn passed away. She was like a safety guru. I mean, she was always double-checking and making sure that everyone was doing the right thing.
So I remember she would record every show that she did and she would watch it and critique herself. And she was constantly trying to be better. When I found out it was Dawn, I was shocked. That could have been me. I could have been the spotter. What if I was there and I could have saved her? All these things go through your mind.
SAMANTHA BERG, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: John Sillick is the guy who in 1987 was crushed between two whales at SeaWorld in San Diego. Now, even though I had been working at SeaWorld for six months, I had no idea that that had even happened. I never even heard that story. And the SeaWorld party line was, that was -- it was a trainer error.
DEAN GOMERSALL, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: It was John's fault, John's fault. He was supposed to get off that whale. And for years, I believed that. And I told people that.
VENTRE: I actually started at SeaWorld like five days after that event occurred. And we didn't -- we weren't told much about it, other than it was trainer error.
And, you know, especially when you're new into the program, you don't really question a whole lot.
GOMERSALL: Well, years later, when you actually look at the footage, you go, you know what, he didn't do anything wrong. That whale just landed on him. That whale just went to the wrong spot, or it could have been aggression. Who knows. But it was not the trainer's fault at all, watching that video.
BERG: When I saw the video of the killer whale landing on John, I mean, it just absolutely took my breath away. I gasped. I watched it two or three times. And every time I saw, I just gasped. I could not believe what I was seeing.
What kept his body together is that his wet suit basically held him together. But I know he's had multiple surgeries and he's got tons of hardware in his body, and it's hard for me to believe that I didn't actually see that while I was actually an animal trainer, because it seems to me that every person who works with killer whales should have to watch that video.
JOHN HARGROVE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: Tamarie (ph). You know, Tamarie made mistakes. The most important was interacting with whales without a spotter. So she's putting her foot on Orkid. She's taking it off. She's putting her foot on Orkid, her rostrum. She's taking it off.
Watching your video and knowing Orkid, your stomach drops, because you know what is probably going to happen. She grabbed her foot. Tamarie whips around and she grabs the gate. You see her just ripped from the gate. At this point, Tamarie knows that she's in trouble. She's under the water. Splash and Orkid both have her. She's totally out of view.
No other trainer knows that this is happening. People start to scream, the park guest that was filming it. You hear. You don't see her. But you hear Tamarie surface. You hear her just scream out, "Somebody, help me." And the way she screamed it, it was just such a blood-curdling, like, she knew she was going to die.
Robin (ph), when he ran over, he made a brilliant decision. He told the trainer to run and take the chain off Kasatka's gate. By taking that chain off, it would give the precursor to Orkid that Kasatka was coming in. Kasatka is more dominant than Orkid, so Orkid let her go.
Her arm, it was U-shaped. It was compound-fractured. She's very lucky to be alive. That's for sure.
BERG: I believe it's 70-plus, maybe even more, just killer whale trainer accidents. Maybe 30 of them happened prior to me actually being hired at SeaWorld. And I knew about none of them.
VENTRE: I have seen animals come out at trainers. I have seen people get slammed.
GOMERSALL: The whales, they are just playing, or they're upset for a second. It was just something that happened, you know?
JETT: It's culture of you get back on the horse and you dive back in the water, and if you're hurt, well, then we have got other people that will replace you, and you came a long way. You sure you want that?
MEREDITH VIEIRA, NBC: A SeaWorld trainer is recovering after a terrifying ordeal in front of a horrified audience.
DAVE DUFFUS, WHALE RESEARCHER: For some reason, the whale just took a different approach to what it was going to do with a very senior, very experienced trainer, Ken Peters, and dragged him to the bottom of the pool and held him in the bottom, let him go, picked him up, took him down again.
And these periods he was taken down were pretty close to the mark, you know, a minute, a minute and 20.
When he was at the surface, he didn't panic. He didn't thrash. He didn't scream. Maybe he's just built that way, but he stroked the whale. And the whale let go of one foot and grabbed the other. That's a pretty deep pool. And he took him right down.
I think that's to two atmospheres pressure. Apparently, Mr. Peters is an experienced scuba diver. And I think that knowledge contributed to how he was able to be hauled down there that and stay calm and know what to do.
He knew what he was doing because when -- you can see him actually in the film. The depth is so good, you can see him ventilating. You can see him ventilating really hard. So, he knows about swimming and diving and being underwater. He may have been assuming he was going under again. I did not walk away unimpressed by his calm demeanor during that whole affair. I would be scared (EXPLETIVE DELETED)-less.
He was near to the end. Presumably, Ken Peters had a relationship with this whale. Maybe he did. And maybe that's what saved him, but Peters got the whale to let him go. And they strung a net across, and Ken Peters pulled himself over the float line, swam like a demon to a slide-out because the whale was coming right behind him. The whale jumped over it and kept right after him.
He tried to stand up and run, of course, but his feet were damaged. He just fell. He scrambled. And they take this as a prime example of their training working. And they say, well, just stand back and stay calm. And that did work.
They claim this is a victory of how they do business, and maybe so, but it can also be interpreted as a hair's breadth away from another fatality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Shamu. Hi, everybody.
We're the Johnsons from Detroit, Michigan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sure had a great time when we visited SeaWorld. It's one of our favorite places.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I like the part when Shamu gets everybody wet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the whales get close to the glass and start kicking up the water, wammo, you're a goner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Orange County sheriff's deputies have identified the 27-year-old man found dead in a killer whale's tank at SeaWorld. The victim is Daniel P. Dukes from South Carolina. Dukes was found yesterday draped over the back of Tilikum, the largest orca held in captivity.
VENTRE: Well, all I know is the public relations version of it. He was a young man that had been arrested not long before he snuck into SeaWorld. Maybe he climbed the barbed-wire fence and stayed after hours.
JETT: Perfect storyline. A mentally disturbed guy hides in the park after hours and strips his clothes off and decides he wants to have a magical experience with an orca and drowns because he became hypothermic.
Right, so that's the storyline, and none of us were there to know the difference.
VENTRE: He was not detected by the night watch trainers who were presumably at that station.
JETT: There are cameras all over SeaWorld. There are cameras all over the back of Shamu Stadium pointing every which way. There are underwater cameras. I find it hard to believe that nobody knew until the morning that there was a body in there.
They have a night watch trainer every night. That person didn't hear any slashing or screaming or -- I just find that really suspicious.
VENTRE: One of the employees, I don't know if it was a physical therapist or somebody, was coming in, in the morning, and there was Tilikum with a dead guy, a dead naked guy on his back, kind of parading him around the back pool.
The public relations spin on this was that he was kind of a drifter and died of hypothermia, but the medical examiner reports were more graphic than that. For example, Tilikum stripped him, bit off his genitals. There was bite marks all over his body.
JETT: Now, whether that was post-death or pre-death, I don't know, but all I can comment on is that the guy definitely jumped in the wrong pool.
So why keep Tilikum there? This guy, he has a proven track record of killing people. He's clearly a liability to the institution. Why keep him around? Well, it's quite simple to answer, and that is that his semen is worth quite a lot of money.
BERG: Over the years, Tilikum has been one of the main breeding whales at SeaWorld, which is brilliant because they can inseminate way more female whales because they can just get his sperm and freeze it and then he's basically operating as a sperm bank.
In a reputable breeding program, rule number one is you certainly would not breed an animal that has shown a history of aggression towards humans. Imagine if you had a pit bull who had killed. I mean, that animal would have likely been put down, but in the entire SeaWorld collection, it's like 54 percent of the whales in SeaWorld's collection now have Tilikum's genes.
MARK SIMMONS, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: The flaw is to assume that all killer whales are like Tilikum. You have to look at their learning history from birth. You have to understand why Tilikum was a hazard to anybody in the water. And you have to understand that none of the other killer whales at SeaWorld who are in that system are that way.
QUESTION: What about the incident at Loro Parque?
SIMMONS: First of all, I can't speak with specificity about Loro Parque. I wasn't there. I -- in fact, I know very little about it, probably about as much as the general public knows. ESTEFANIA RODRIGUEZ, FIANCEE OF VICTIM (through translator): He told me he had something important to say. He knelt down and proposed to me. Very romantic. Of course I said yes. He said, really? I said, of course.
(INAUDIBLE) He always loved animals and decided to try it out. He loved it. He tried it, and just fell in love with it.
SUZANNE ALLEE, FORMER VIDEO SUPERVISOR, LORO PARQUE: Loro Parque, it is in the Canary Islands, which is an autonomous region of Spain. It's the largest tourist attraction in all of Spain. And when SeaWorld sent the orcas to Loro Parque, everybody was always questioning, like, how did they make that leap to send four young orcas to park off the west coast of Africa with trainers who a lot of them had never been around orcas before?
Nothing was ready. The venue wasn't ready. It wasn't ready for the orcas. It wasn't ready for the show. The owner of the park didn't want to lose revenue by shutting down the pools and repairing them. So, for three years, the animals ate the pools, and for three years the animals had problems with their teeth, with their stomachs.
That's the reason why these animals are enduring the endoscope procedures. Those are still SeaWorld's animals, and they are responsible for those animals. Loro Parque doesn't have a good reputation. People that work in the business know the reputation of places, and Loro Parque doesn't have a good reputation.
They didn't spend the same amount of time as the SeaWorld trainers, didn't go through the same regimen that the SeaWorld trainers went through.
And Alexis really was the best trainer. I did say -- I said, you know, you're the only trainer there that can hold its own with a SeaWorld trainer, and I said, but you need to be careful.
RODRIGUEZ (through translator): He complained to me that he was tired, but I didn't take it seriously. (INAUDIBLE)
"Maybe tomorrow, something might happen to me." He said this the night before the attack.
ALLEE: Anywhere along the line, it could have been stopped, because everyone knew it was a tragedy waiting to happen, but no one every did anything about it.
And in the end, it was the best trainer who lost his life.
RODRIGUEZ (through translator): My cell phone rang. It was Miguel Diaz, Alex's boss. He said, "There was an incident with one of the whales. Alex is fine."
MERCEDES MARTINEZ, MOTHER OF ALEXIS (through translator): We noticed new ambulances and the company owners.
RODRIGUEZ (through translator): The owner was there with the director and their lawyers. He told us, "There was nothing we could do."
MARTINEZ: "There was nothing we could do."
They asked me if I wanted to see him. It was horrible.
RODRIGUEZ: They took us to -- the room where his body was. Only his head was showing. He was completely covered up. I leaned over his chest. I noticed something was wrong. It seemed as though his chest had burst. I asked what had happened. I couldn't understand why they had told me he was fine.
And all of a sudden, I saw him like this.
MARTINEZ: I just gave him a big hug and said, "I love you, I love you." Then they escorted us out. And I don't remember anything else.
RODRIGUEZ (through translator): It was an accident. It was an accident. But I wasn't content with that answer. Finally, the autopsy gave us the reason. It was no accident. It was an attack, a brutal attack. This was not just an accident. That is a lie.
DUFFUS: Those were SeaWorld's whales. They were trained using SeaWorld's techniques, and their training was being supervised at the time of the fatal accident by one of the senior trainers from San Diego.
For somebody to get up and say in a court of law they have no knowledge of the linkages between SeaWorld and this park in Tenerife, well, either she doesn't know and is telling the truth, or it's just a boldfaced lie.
JEFFREY VENTRE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: As trainers we never forget Shamu's true potential. We see it each and every day. That's why all of our interactions are very carefully thought out, especially our water work interaction. Whoa! You big dork! Especially our water work interactions, because they're potentially the most dangerous.
JOHN JETT, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: I've been expecting it since the second person was killed. I've been expecting somebody to be killed by Tilikum. I'm surprised it took as long as it did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First tonight, a six-time killer whale has lived up to its name, killing an experienced trainer at SeaWorld Orlando today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tourist in an earlier show said the animal seemed agitated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trainers complained the whales weren't cooperating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole show, the main show was a disaster that day.
SAMANTHA BERG, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: There were whales chasing each other, and eventually, the trainers decided they had to stop the show, because they couldn't get the whales under control.
VENTRE: Tilikum was in the back pool, set up to do a Dine with Shamu performance with Dawn.
BERG: Likely she saw what had gone on during the main show and she had probably felt more pressure to do a good show.
When you watch the whole video, you can see that Tilikum is actually really with Dawn in the beginning of the video. There's a couple of behaviors that she asks him to do, where Tilikum just jumps right in, and he does exactly what she asks him to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to show you how agile these guys are.
VENTRE: There seemed to be a point in the session where things went south, so to speak, and in my humble opinion, it was at that missed bridge, whistle bridge on the perimeter pec wave.
BERG: She asked him to do a perimeter pec wave, where she asked him to basically go all the way around the pool and wave his pectoral flipper, and she blows her whistle, which is a bridge, which tells the animal that, OK, you've done a good job. Come back and get food. But he missed that cue. And he went all the way around the pool on this perimeter pec wave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to let him keep on waving.
VENTRE: My interpretation is that he didn't hear the whistle.
BERG: So not only did he not hear the bridge, then he went and did a perfect behavior and came back and what he got was what we call three-second neutral response, which is just no, no you didn't do the correct thing. You're not going to get rewarded, and then we're going to move on. And you can also see through the video that Dawn is running out of food.
VENTRE: The animals can sense when you're getting to the bottom of your bucket of fish, because they can hear the ice clanging around and the kind of fishy soupy water at the bottom, and the handfuls of fish that they're getting delivered by the trainer are all getting smaller. So they know that they're coming down to the end of session.
BERG: When you see the difference between the beginning of the video and the end of the video, you can see he's just not quite on his game anymore.
JETT: There's no food left. She kept asking him for more and more behaviors. He wasn't getting reinforced for the behaviors that he was doing correctly. He probably was frustrated towards the end.
VENTRE: Then she walked around the perimeter of G-pool. He followed her. And then continued over into the rocky ledge area, where she laid down with him to do a relationship session, which is quiet time basically.
JETT: Tilikum at some point grabbed ahold of her left forearm and started to drag her and eventually did a barrel roll and pulled her in. May have started as play or frustration, and clearly escalated to the very violent behavior that I think was anything but play.
In the end, you know, he basically just completely mutilated that poor girl.
JOHN HARGROVE, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: They were gathering all of the trainers at the Texas park. He said, "There's been an accident at the Florida park, and a trainer was killed."
Hearing that it was Dawn, I was -- I couldn't believe it. I just remember saying to myself, "Not Dawn. It can't be Dawn."
He said that -- "And he still has her." And I just was so disturbed by that, and the reality of how powerless we are.
DAVE DUFFUS, OSHA EXPERT WITNESS/WHALE RESEARCHER: Evulsion, laceration, abrasion, fractures, fractures and associated hemorrhages, blunt-force traumas to the main body, to the extremities. To see this beating against a trainer, and I cannot fathom the reason, is shocking.
The lawyer for OSHA asked me what I thought we'd learned, and I'm sitting in the courtroom, and I've got the Keltie Byrne case file in one hand, and I've got Dawn Brancheau in the other, and they're almost to the day 20 years apart. And I'm looking at these two things and my only answer is, "Nothing. Not a damn thing. We have not learned a damn thing for something like that to happen 20 years apart."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you tell if it was an accident?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the female trainer work with this whale on a regular basis?
JIM SOLOMONS, SPOKESMAN, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I don't know what really happened. We had a female trainer back in the whale holding area. She apparently slipped or fell into the tank and was fatally injured by one of the whales.
BERG: At first SeaWorld reported that a trainer slipped and fell in the water and was drowned. So that was the first report.
JETT: It wasn't until eyewitness accounts disputed that that they had to go back in their huddle and say, "Wait a minute. We've got to come up with a new plan." UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight SeaWorld has confirmed the killer whale pulled the woman into the water. She didn't fall into the tank as the sheriff's department initially reported.
JETT: The new plan is that he grabbed her ponytail. This is a subtle way of placing the blame on Dawn's shoulders. She shouldn't have had a long ponytail, or if she did have that ponytail, it should have been up in a bun.
THAD LACINAK, FORMER SEAWORLD EXECUTIVE: Dawn, if she were standing here with you right now, would tell you that it was her -- that was her mistake in allowing that to happen.
HARGROVE: They blamed her. How dare you? How disrespectful for you to blame her when she's not even alive to defend herself?
LACINAK: He grabbed her ponytail and pulled her into the water. That's as simple as it gets.
BERG: There are photographs of plenty of other trainers doing exactly the same thing that she was doing. So I knew that SeaWorld was lying about the fact that this was her fault.
VENTRE: The ponytail in all likelihood is just a tale. The safety spotter, who apparently didn't actually see the takedown, came up with that.
DAVE MCDANIEL, REPORTER: Now during the spotter's testimony, OSHA pushed him to say that he wasn't really sure it was her ponytail that was in the whale's mouth, that he just saw her underwater, and he assumed it was the ponytail.
OSHA contends that the whale came up and grabbed on Brancheau's arm, saying that that was another level of aggressiveness. Again, SeaWorld is saying it was not an aggressive move.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of SeaWorld's top curator's, Chuck Tompkins, said when Dawn Brancheau was pulled off that ledge it wasn't necessarily aggressive behavior by the whale.
MARK SIMMONS, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: The initial grab was not an act of aggression. This is not a crazed animal.
JETT: The industry has a vested interest in spinning these so that the animals continue to appear like cuddly teddy bears that are completely safe. You know. That sells a lot of Shamu dolls. It sells a lot of tickets at the gate. And that's the story line that they're going to continue to stick with for as long as they can.
GRAPHIC: Jeff Andrews, SeaWorld expert witness, "Tilikum is not an aggressive killer whale. The only thing that lead to (ph) event was a mistake made by Ms. Brancheau."
SIMMONS: Recognize that those that say this is a crazed animal that acted out and grabbed Dawn maliciously, they want to prove the theorem that captivity makes animals crazy, and that is just false. LORI MARINO, NEUROSCIENTIST: All whales in captivity have a bad life. They're all psychologically traumatized. So they are ticking time bombs. It's not just Tilikum.
SIMMONS: We have to separate what happened to Dawn, and as tragic as it is, no one wants to ever see it ever happen again. Can SeaWorld create an environment where it never happens again? Yes, I absolutely believe they can.
What if there were no SeaWorlds? I can't imagine a society with the value we put in marine mammals if those parks didn't exist.
JETT: I'm not at all interested in having my daughter, who is 3 1/2, grow up thinking that it's normalized to have these intelligent, highly-evolved animals in concrete pools. I don't want her to think that's how we treat the kin that we find ourselves around on this planet. I think it's atrocious.
MCDANIEL: This hearing is expected to last all week with OSHA continuing to work towards this theory: that SeaWorld knew there was a calculated risk of injury or death, but put trainers in the water with the whales anyway. While SeaWorld will say that Dawn Brancheau's death was an isolated incident.
Reporting live in Seminole County, Dave McDaniel, West 2 News.
CHRISTOPHER PORTER, FORMER TILIKUM TRAINER: There's something wrong with Tilikum that there's -- there's something wrong, and that's when you have a relationship with an animal, and you understand that he's killing, not to be a savage. He's not killing because he's just crazy. He's not killing because he doesn't know what he's doing. He's killing because he's frustrated, and he's got aggravations, and he doesn't know how to -- he has no outlet for it.
JETT: Now Tilikum is spending a great deal of time by himself and basically floating lifeless in a pool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three hours now. And he hasn't moved.
DEAN GAMERSALL, FORMER SEAWORLD TRAINER: They try to sugar coat it by saying he comes out in the front pool every once in a while. Now he's doing shows. You know what he does in his show? He does a few bows. And then he goes back into his little jail cell. That's his life.
DUFFUS: I feel sad for Tilikum. A regal thing like him swimming around a tank with his fin flopped over like that, you know, compared to a wild bull killer whale that size, which is one of the most kinetic and dynamic things you can imagine. I feel sad when I see him.
GRAPHIC: Tilikum remains at SeaWorld Orlando, performing daily. BERG: It's time to stop the shows. It's time to stop forcing the animals to perform in basically a circus environment. And they should release the animals that are young enough and healthy enough to be released. And the animals like Tilikum, who are old and sick and have put in 25 years in the industry, should be released to an open ocean pen so they can live out their lives and just experience the national rhythms of the ocean.
VENTRE: This is a multibillion-dollar corporation that makes its money through the exploitation of orcas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not suitable to have in captivity.
JETT: The whales are really bored. You deprive them of all the environmental stimulation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that in 50 years we'll look back and go, "My God, what a barbaric time."
GRAPHIC: SeaWorld repeatedly declined to be interviewed for this film.
May 30, 2012, Judge Ken Welsch issued a ruling on OSHA vs. SeaWorld. During shows, SeaWorld trainers must now remain behind barriers, separated from the orcas. SeaWorld has appealed.
DIANE GROSS, DAWN BRANCHEAU'S SISTER: Dawn Brancheau, D.B., dream big. Dawn was the most loving, giving person you ever met. Her smile just radiated. She fulfilled her life.