After a killer whale on Wednesday slaughtered 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau, with attendees of Orlando SeaWorld watching in horror, many animal-rights supporters using the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Web site took the whale’s side.
Correcting for spelling and punctuation, here’s what some of the visitors to blog.peta.org had to say in the hours after 30-year-old whale Tilikum, associated with two other human deaths, bit onto Brancheau’s long ponytail and drowned her:
“I know human life has value,” a poster named Erica wrote, “but I have no pity for the fatalities.”
“As far as I'm concerned,” wrote Suzanne, “anyone that is involved in hurting an animal for ANY reason, let alone for public enjoyment, deserves a death that fits the crime ... case in point, the sad demise of this recent trainer.” She added, “What goes around, comes around. I hope they don't put Tilikum down!”
“Any human that gets in a BOWL with an 11,000-pound whale is asking to be killed and honestly maybe that’s what should happen,” declared Ericha. “Don’t let yourself be misled by human stupidity, and don’t feel sorry for lives lost in this industry. Trainers are not the victims. The whales are.”
A blogger named Lesley wrote, “I know this is harsh, but I have zero sympathy for the trainer. I have all the sympathy in the world for the creatures we drag from the wild and force to perform for people who think it is amusing.”
“These poor animals taken from freedom, put in little tanks/cages to entertain this disgusting human race” was how a PETA supporter named Mishel reacted. “The way I see it is, he is one of the animals that the human couldn’t break! Good for you, Tilikum!”
According to “Jericho,” “An alternative headline for this story could have been ‘Killer Killer Kills.’ I say we should strike one up for freedom and point to the allegory it tells of ourselves.” The same posting also ridiculed the fact of the whale “sitting in a tiny pool so morons can shuffle past eating donuts and gawk” and sarcastically wondered if “we could do a regular feeding with trainers, one each every Friday, like Rome?”
A posting by a woman named Rochelle said, “no, I don’t feel sorry for anyone who gets snagged.”
Another, by someone identified as Max, said, “Disgusting! Long live the whale (not humans).”
A blogger identified only as “T” commented, “You reap what you sow,” while Sue remarked, “What goes around, comes around.”
And Sally rationalized the incident, claiming that “basically, Telly did to the trainer what Sea World did to him – took her by force from her world to his, and held her there against her will.”
Going even further was a comment from “Moo,” which observed, “Well, who knows? Maybe that girl deserved it, working for a bad place that uses animals [as] entertainment. (Who knows what goes on backstage!) You know, what goes around comes back around.”
According to a posting by Maude, “It was only a matter of time until the animals started fighting back.”
Such comments were not by any means in the majority on the PETA Web site. Far more expressed sympathy for the victim and her family, like Christine, who wrote, “My heart goes out to the trainer who lost her life in a horrible manner,” and Josh, who admonished fellow PETA bloggers: “Instead on focusing on the whales and how they are not happy, take a few minutes and focus on the one who just passed away and her family.”
Similarly, Olivia blogged, “My deepest sympathy goes out to Dawn’s family. I think so many people go into the whale-training business because they have a love for the whales.” She added, “I don’t think all whale trainers are evil; I think they are not looking at the big picture.”
There did, however, seem to be much more concern for the whale than the woman among the comments. A poster identified as Gmikerover wrote, “I am terrified they with euthanize this whale for his deeds. Please do not let this happen!” Sarah claimed, “Animals are humans like we are. They just communicate and live differently.”
A poster named Nahrin lamented, “Ultimately, the poor whale will be blamed for everything and will be put to death just because some idiots who have the audacity to call themselves humans decided to create a show by keeping these majestic animals in captivity – so much for the ability of reasoning within the human race.”
“The trainer most likely wouldn’t have wanted to die any other way,” according to PETA blogger Alexis. “They love animals to death.”
A posting by Hayley asked, “How can you expect animals to respect and obey a species of animal that is just out to destroy?”
Prominent PETA supporter and celebrated game show host Bob Barker on Thursday wrote SeaWorld’s parent company on behalf of the animal rights group and repeated a call for their theme parks to be closed. Barker asked SeaWorld to “start moving the captive orcas and other marine animals to transitional coastal and wildlife sanctuaries and replace them with state-of-the-art virtual reality exhibits” like those depicting dinosaurs.
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