“HARD TO PUT DOWN”
The controversial topic of orcas (killer whales) in captivity is thoroughly examined in a gripping inspection of the biggest keeper of killer whales, SeaWorld. Opening with the tragic story of a female trainer killed by a captive orca, Kirby then reveals that this attack took place in British Columbia in 1991.
The connection to the titular 2010 incident at SeaWorld, when trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed, is the whale. Tilikum, a male orca, has spent almost his entire life in captivity. He has been responsible for the deaths of not only two trainers but also of an apparent trespasser who was found dead in his tank at SeaWorld.
Centering his narrative on both Tilikum and Naomi Rose, the marine-mammal expert for the U.S. Humane Society, Kirby delves into the life of a captive orca, the immense PR campaigns waged by media-savvy SeaWorld, battles with OSHA as the federal government weighed in on the safety of working with killer whales, and the final court cases, one of which is yet to be resolved. Hard to put down. — Nancy Bent