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Monday, July 23, 2012

Shamu Is Out to Get You: Death at SeaWorld Author on Why Killer Whales Kill

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM

click to enlarge SUBBUTHEPEACEFUL

Here's the thing about killer whales -- they can kill you. Being the largest dolphins on the planet, orcas are highly intelligent, family-oriented, and generally disinterested in killing humans in the wild. But if you confined my body to a glorified kiddy pool, stuffed me with gelatin when I'm dehydrated, and made me inseminate my own mother, I'd probably kill you too.

click to enlarge kirbys_book.jpg

Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project and St. Martin's Press are bringing investigative author David Kirby to talk about his book Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity. The book continues where the "Free Keiko" campaign of the '90s left off. SeaWorld, the Disneyland for marine enthusiasts, gave Free Willy fans yet another reason to make noise after the gruesome 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau by notorious orca Tilikum, making the third time the whale had been involved in human death. Kirby doesn't demonize the whale, however. He presents a work of narrative non-fiction following Tilikum, marine biologist Dr. Naomi Rose, and a whole cast of characters from former trainers to SeaWorld supporters, as they weigh in on the controversial captivity debate. The book deals with two main issues: the inevitable frustration, aggression, and frequent death of whales leading stressful lives in captivity, and well as the unsafe working conditions often brushed under SeaWorld's glossy family-friendly image. The end result isn't just an animal-rights plea but a compelling work of prose that takes us into the whales' natural habitats as well as their SeaWorld circus-tanks.

Joining Kirby will be Rose Aguilar, host of KALW's Your Call and Mark Berman, as seen in Keiko: The Untold Story.

The talk starts July 25 at 7 p.m. at The Hub, 901 Mission Street. Admission is Free.

We won't show you any horrific clips of orcas attacking people. Instead, here's a fan-edited mash-up from Jaws.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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Neha Talreja

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