Judge Welsch’s Decision

As a follow-up to my Outside post, I want to call out Judge Welsch’s decision, and urge you to read it. I don’t want it to get lost in all the back and forth over SeaWorld and the future of waterwork, and whether SeaWorld can successfully appeal or implement sufficient safety measures to allow trainers back in the water.

It is 47 pages, and in my view a relentless and powerfully argued deconstruction of SeaWorld’s corporate culture, training regime, and safety strategy. And because, for the first time, SeaWorld was compelled to put on the record its personnel and its internal documents, it is one of the most revealing looks inside killer whale captivity that you can read. If you have any interest in this topic you will find it a fascinating document.

Se here it is. Let me know what you think:

One thought on “Judge Welsch’s Decision”

  1. WOW ~ FINALLY! A thorough, objective, and truthful summary of what’s been going on for decades at Sea World! The ruling honors the memory of both Alex and Dawn ~ and IT’S ABOUT TIME! “Profit” is not a dirty word, and profitable companies keep people employed. But when profit is more important than the very LIVES of those who work for them ~ something must be done to hold decision makers responsible. S/W management has shown complete disregard for the safety of their trainers, and the whales.. Yet they continue to breed more killer whales, lie and mislead the public, and spend millions trying to get people back into the pool, and in harms way. For the life of me, I can’t understand this blind loyalty to those who will stop at nothing to get bodies back into the pool.

    2 questions; I hope you can help me understand.. Mike Scarpuzzi, VP of Zoological Ops, SW San Diego, was deemed a hostile witness for disrespectful, evasive (and smartass) answers in court. (I can’t imagine the audacity of this guy..) The ruling noted Scarpuzzi’s criticism (or write-up) of trainer Ken Peters for cancelling a show due to Kasatka’s extreme aggression. 3 years earlier, Kasatka nearly killed Ken in front of an audience. This time, with the help of another trainer, (and God’s favor), he again made it out alive; but cancelled the rest of the show. Seems reasonable to me. Was Scarpuzzi relieved Ken was ok? No, just pissed that Ken cancelled the show. We only know this because judge dismissed SW’s motion to PREVENT Ken’s testimony.. (SW: it happened at another park = not relevant.) Thank goodness, the judge found it extremely relevant, calling B.S. on ‘em. So, why would testimony between Ken and the OSHA lawyer become contentious? According to witnesses, it did. The OSHA lawyer said Ken was nearly killed, and Ken denied ever feeling his life was in danger. Saw the video – he was most certainly in danger. You’d think trainers would be over-the-moon that some authority is FINALLY showing concern about whether they live or die, no? Why are these unappreciated, under-paid, overly criticized trainers so afraid to speak out when they get written up for having the audacity to survive a potentially deadly attack by a killer whale? Seriously?? Someone would have had to pull me off of Mr. Scarpuzzi.

    My second question concerns the Brancheau family. God bless them, I cannot imagine the pain they’ve endured, as accurate information has come out concerning Dawn’s death. But on day 7 of trial, as OSHA wrapped up their witnesses, SW called for dismissal of all charges, AND asked the judge NOT TO CONSIDER DAWN’S DEATH IN HIS RULING, because it happened at the end of Dine w/ Shamu. S/W attorney said yes, people were there, but the announcer had already said the show was over, sooo…Dawn Brancheau’s death should NOT be considered as part of this trial. Reporter said Scott Brancheau was “visibly upset’ at the notion. (Ya think??) Why then, like some current trainers, would the Brancheau family seem supportive of SW? The ruling says SW testified in court that Dawn’s death was her own fault, as all negative behavior should be detected by trainer. Yet, her mom & siblings seemed loyal to SW in interviews I’ve seen. I don’t understand.. am I missing something? (LOVE your coverage of SW and Orca captivity issues, please forgive my ranting.)

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