Been getting word that at least one SeaWorld Shamu stadium has called a meeting for Monday to discuss beginning waterwork desensitization in the medical pool. That’s the first step to resuming waterwork with SeaWorld’s killer whales, which was stopped in the aftermath of Dawn Brancheau’s and stayed on hold through SeaWorld’s appeal of OSHA’s citation of SeaWorld Florida for exposing trainers to injury from orcas.
I don’t know if all of SeaWorld’s parks are planning to begin waterwork desense training, or whether the training will lead to the resumption of waterwork outside of shows (which Judge Ken Welsch’s OSHA ruling allows) or even in shows that either take place outside of Florida (which was the only park OSHA cited) or in shows everywhere based on a claim that fast-rising floors and other safety measures mitigate the dangers OSHA cited.
But I do know that SeaWorld management, including Brad Andrews and Jim Atchison, have for a while been telling trainers–many of whom have been discouraged by the lack of waterwork and considering moving on from Shamu Stadium–that, despite OSHA, waterwork will be back. And also that plans to install fast-rising pool floors will continue.
SeaWorld management has also been telling trainers that Judge Welsch erred in his ruling, so it seems likely that SeaWorld will appeal his ruling further (it has 60 days to file). In the meantime, SeaWorld is within days of having to demonstrate to OSHA the steps it will take to mitigate the dangers to trainers OSHA identified.
So lots of pieces are in movement, and only SeaWorld knows where it hopes to take them. But a plan to begin waterwork desense shows that waterwork in some form is still very much part of SeaWorld’s plan.