Saturday, February 27, 2010

Killer whales and wailing kitties

It surprised me to learn that the whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World who was killed had a loose pony tail which might have looked like a toy/food to the Orca Tillikum which just did what whales do. People who live and work and care for animals should understand animal behavior and never let down their guard, or forget that animals have instincts. Whether they are 11,000 lb whales, or 11 lb dogs. For instance, my 11 year old cat will still attack my shoe strings. I don't know what she thinks they are, but they send a signal. Another cat we had never figured out the tail thing (this one's never noticed her tail). And what cat or dog owner doesn't know not to stare their pet in the eye--even to tease--and if they do, should know not to put their face up to the pet's nose. Yes, maybe 99 times she just licks your nose, but the 100th time she bites, draws blood, sees your reaction, and from then on, you're in trouble.

The dog bite statistics for males is telling. Young male children are bitten by young male dogs, owned by young adult males. See a pattern? Dawn was not a male; Tillikum wasn't a dog. But I'm sure there are patterns that whales follow. I don't blame the whale, and I don't blame captivity. The whale has probably lived longer and had a better life than in the wild. Better than many human beings. Whale trainers are probably safer in a tank with a whale than on a California freeway. But long, loose hair? No, not ever.

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