Changes are possible for the popular killer whale shows at Sea World parks, after a federal appeals court today upheld an Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruling that putting trainers in the same water tank as orca whales violates worker safety laws, 1200 WOAI news reports.
No comment from Sea World.
The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia, which deals with rulings from federal regulatory agencies, ruled 2-1 that putting a trainer in a tank with a killer whale amounts to 'knowingly exposing workers to recognized hazards' in violation of federal law.
The dissenting justice compared the trainers to athletes, and said they know the risks when they take the job, and upholding the OSHA regulation could lead to tough safety regulations at boxing matches and football games.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the decision means Sea World should end the killer whale shows altogether.
"With the life threatening dangers to trainers and the detrimental effects of enslaving intelligent, social, and far ranging orcas and confining them to concrete tanks, Sea World's tawdry shows will soon be a thing of the past," PETA spokesman David Perle said. "Sea World needs to make the only responsible and human choice and develop coastal sanctuaries for the orcas it confines and finally bring its business into the 21st Century."
The ruling stems from the 2010 death of a trainer at the hands of a whale at the Sea World park in Orlando, an incident explored in the anti Sea World documentary 'Blackfish.'
Sea World is expected to appeal the ruling.