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Orca attack in San Antonio

Jul 28, 2004

On Tuesday, a frustrated orca by the name of Ky chose to release some energy and rage by dunking his trainer. Here's the story from ABC News.

I saw the video of the attack, both on television and online and it's quite apparent through the entire episode that Ky's intentions were not malicious.

Orcas kill large prey like gators do, by biting and shaking. Anyone who's seen footage of orcas beaching and snatching seals can attest to this. However, not once during the "attack" did Ky open his mouth. The major newsfeeds attributed the display to aggresive roughhousing due to the onset of sexual maturity. I think this is pretty close to accurate.

However, I am also of the opinion that orcas (and dolphins in general) are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. If not more intelligent, than at least capable of greater intelligence with instruction. That's why it is my opinion that Ky was somehow frustrated with his trainer. Whether the repetitive schedule or mind-dulling activities caused it we can only guess, but I truly believe Ky was trying to send a message as best he could. The fact that there was no biting, and that Ky did not want his trainer to leave the pool after he calmed down seem to attest to the emotions of frustration, remorse and (dare I say it) love in the form of childlike need.

Ky is only ten years old. If your ten-year-old weighed twenty times as much as you and lived in water, would not a tantrum look much like what we've just seen?

Orcas are not dangerous because they are wild. Instead, they are dangerous because they are intelligent, and not acknowledging that intelligence can lead to scenes like what happened yesterday. One day, when we've broken the code of their many dialects, I am sure respect for their capacity to be more than "trained animals" will result in their better treatment, and fewer incedents like these.

On a different note: Once again, in a blaze of liberal glory, Canadian news has to sensationalize in an effort to wrench the nation from it's two favorite passtimes: hockey and beer.

The news staff from CTV.ca isn't content to report the scene as they saw it from the video and intervewing the trainers (who would be the most knowledgeable about the entire incident). No, it's likely they went and found some people who'd been in the back row of the audience to interview and believed every sordid tidbit.

The third paragraph of the CTV story has but one sentence: "At one point the whale even tried to take a bite out of him."

No other news network comes close to even implying a disaster of this kind. The CTV, though, takes it upon itself to villainize orcas, most likely to further erode the case for keeping orcas in captivity. Orcas are ultra-efficient hunters and if there was any biting going on, Ky would not have missed. Rather, Ky knew exactly what he was doing with his trainer-companion of ten years. True, the trainer could have been hurt, much as a child having a tantrum could accidentally hit you in the eye with a blindly-waved fist. However, after repeated examination, it's abundantly clear that serious harm was never Ky's intent.

No doubt among the batting, thrashing and pushing underwater, some member of the audience with the sun in their eyes thought they caught a glimpse of teeth. And the CTV tells it like it is. Sure...

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