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Death at Seaworld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivityby David Kirby
Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of Evidence of Harm and Animal Factory—a groundbreaking scientific thriller that exposes the dark side of SeaWorld, Americas most beloved marine mammal park
Death at SeaWorld centers on the battle with the multimillion-dollar marine park industry over the controversial and even lethal ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity. Following the story of marine biologist and animal advocate at the Humane Society of the US, Naomi Rose, Kirby tells the gripping story of the two-decade fight against PR-savvy SeaWorld, which came to a head with the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010. Kirby puts that horrific animal-on-human attack in context. Brancheaus death was the most publicized among several brutal attacks that have occurred at Sea World and other marine mammal theme parks.
Death at SeaWorld introduces real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. In section two the orcas act out. And as the story progresses and orca attacks on trainers become increasingly violent, the warnings of Naomi Rose and other scientists fall on deaf ears, only to be realized with the death of Dawn Brancheau. Finally he covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorlds glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA case that
challenges the very idea of keeping killer whales in captivity and may spell the end of having trainers in the water with the oceans top predators.
"Journalist Kirby offers another passionate industry exposÃ© (after 2005's Evidence of Harm), focusing on SeaWorld Orlando's popular orca display and its costs in happiness and safety for both the animals and the humans who care for them. The main issue at hand is trainer Dawn Brancheau's death, caused in 2010 by the orca and star SeaWorld attraction Tilikum, but Kirby's painstaking account takes its time before arriving at this central tragedy. In addition to the long history of previous violent incidents involving captive killer whales, Kirby teaches readers more than they ever expected to learn about such subjects as marine park management and orca social dynamics. This comprehensive background can sometimes be more diligent than engrossing, but the narrative goes into high gear with its concluding confrontation between what Kirby portrays as SeaWorld's corporate juggernaut, and the scrappy 'anti-cap' (captivity) activists. From this latter camp, the book gives the most attention to disillusioned former trainer Jeff Ventre and, taking center stage as the story's heroine, marine biologist Naomi Rose. Kirby's exhaustively researched chronicle offers the definitive look at its subject, coming down squarely on Rose's side to conclude that the human use of orcas for entertainment does neither species any favors. Agent: Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, an acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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