The death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at Orlando’s Seaworld yesterday is a tragic event and my thoughts go out to her family, friends and colleagues.
But some of the handwringing and bewilderment surrounding the incident leaves me perplexed.
Some years ago, I interviewed Penn Jillette of Las Vegas magic duo Penn & Teller and we got around talking to how Roy of Siegfried & Roy got mauled by one of his own tigers in 2003.
Jilette said: “The magic of Siegfried and Roy is they made things seem so easy, so people sit around saying ‘how the hell did that happen?’. Well, I’ll tell you how it happened – 200lbs of tiger is how it happened. What do people expect? It’s a wild animal…”
The same goes for yesterday’s attack by the whale Tilikum at Seaworld. Dawn Brancheau had worked with killer whales at the park for more than 16 years, she must have been well aware of the inherent dangers of keeping wild animals in closely confined captivity.
Sadly until people people stop putting animals – and especially dangerous ones – on display for human amusement, deaths like that of Dawn’s should be viewed as the norm rather than a freak occurrence.