SeaWorld’s “Expert”: A Criticism of Jeff Andrew’s Report

Jeff Andrews is the “expert” that SeaWorld called to testify for them in court during their hearings with OSHA. This is a criticism of Jeff Andrews report.

“These protocols and practices allow SeaWorld employees to predict killer whale behavior and modify their interactions in order to avoid accidents and injuries.”

Dawn was a senior trainer. If she had known and was able to predict that Tilikum was going to pull her into the water, or act aggressively in any manner, I don’t think she would’ve been so close to him. The very fact that accidents, deaths, and injuries involving these animals have occurred is evidence enough that the animal’s behavior cannot be predicted.

“I knew that Tilikum was a very even tempered and well behaved whale, that he is a very tolerant animal and has had few, if any, aggressive tendenciesI did not discover one example of an aggressive event with himTilikum is not an aggressive killer whale.”

Not according to SeaWorld’s own profile of Tilikum which states very blatantly: “Tilikum has exhibited aggressive behavior by mouthing the stage, vocalizations, tightening body posture, banging gates, a deep fast swim, and sometimes lunging toward control trainer.” There is certainly no way that Mr. Andrews could have read Tilikum’s profile and  made the statement that this whale is not aggressive without total contradiction of his claim with facts.

“There was no indication of an “attack” upon Mr. Dukes by Tilikum.”

Mr. Duke’s was found dead at Shamu Stadium, draped over Tilikum. His body was bruised and scratched. The autopsy report also revealed that he suffered bite marks on his groin, leg and foot.

“I discovered 47 pages of written safety regulations specific to Tilikum which contained roughly 165 individual rules.”

Didn’t Mr. Andrews just make an attempt to convince us that this whale is not aggressive? If the animal is not aggressive, if (like all whales) his behavior can be predicted…why was he not able to do waterworks? And why are there 165 rules that were made specifically for him?

“SeaWorld had more than sufficient amount of protective measures in place to prevent a struck by or drowning hazard.”

If SeaWorld had enough safety protocols to protect the trainers…why are you writing a report about a trainer who was killed by a whale?

“…he [Tilikum] grasped the hair with his mouth in what was likely a curious manner…Tilikum was never aggressive toward her [Dawn]…Never did he forcefully hit her with his flukes or bite her.”

Not according to eyewitnesses. Demar Haye said: “I saw the whale take hold of the trainer’s foot and take her under the water.” Other eyewitnesses say that Dawn’s shoe was floating in the pool. One guest said that everything happened so fast they literally looked down for a split second and when they looked up again Dawn was taken underwater. A security guard said that Dawn was pulled in by her arm. Almost every eyewitness describes a brutal attack that happened very quickly. Descriptions of what is seen on the underwater camera as written by the Orange County sheriff says that Tilikum rammed Dawn and

While Mr. Andrews and many SeaWorld supporters say that killer whale behavior can be predicted, several people have been killed and attacked by whales in captivity.

grabbed her multiple times after she was already dead. Dawn’s autopsy, says that her arm was torn off, she was scalped, and had multiple traumatic injuries due to Tilikum’s thrashing and ramming which was listed as a cause of death. But according to Mr. Andrews, Tilikum simply “controlled [her] movements” (didn’t allow her to come up for air.) If Tilikum has had very few if any aggressive incidents, if he did not hit her or bite her during the attack, I wonder what caused the traumatic injuries mentioned in the autopsy report? And I wonder why eyewitness reports contradict this claim…

“SeaWorld had no knowledge that Tilikum would have acted in the manner that he did on February 24, 2010 prior to the incident.”

Let me remind you that Mr. Andrews just tried to sell us the claim that “SeaWorld employees [can] predict killer whale behavior.” I see a major contradiction here.

“SeaWorld has increased trainer safety around Tilikum since February 24, 2010…”

I was just told that Tilikum has never had an aggressive incident, and Dawn was killed because he was acting out of curiosity. Why the increase safety measures toward Tilikum?

“Trainers that start their career at Shamu Stadium are put through a detailed training curriculum that does not permit them to interact with any killer whale until such time as they are adequately prepared to safely do so.”

We all remember Peter Alexander, right? The news reporter who jumped into the pool with a killer whale after only 2 days at SeaWorld? Also, I should ask why (again), if SeaWorld has such a great training curriculum for their employees, is Mr. Andrews writing a report for a whale that killed a trainer?

Mr. Andrews lists SeaWorld’s safety protocols: “…surveillance systems, rapid deployment net boxes, med pool lifting floor, scuba cuzzis and spare airs, full scuba gear, floating and sinking throw bags, trout lines, shepherds hooks, and a secure perimeter fence.”

Andrews describes this as an “effective safety program.” Judging by what happened on 2/24/10, and countless other attacks that have happened in the past, it’s not very effective. Apparently none of these state of the art safety tools are able to prevent or stop an attack  by a whale. At least not until 45 – 60 minutes after the trainer gets pulled into the water, and at that point they’re already dead. A lot of good that does!

My conclusion:

For whatever reason, Mr. Andrews insists that Tilikum was not aggressive, and rarely if ever has been in the past. Yet he is writing a report in regards to this whale’s involvement in the brutal attack and death of a trainer ; which makes his statements seem quite contradictory. This isn’t the only contradiction that I found in the report. Mr. Andrews claimed that SeaWorld employees can predict whale behavior, and then claimed that they could not predict Tilikum’s behavior.

He used up a fair bit of the report to play on emotions, touting the connection between orca and trainer and the impact of the whale’s deaths and births on the trainer’s emotional states. This seemed a bit irrelevant to the point of the report.

Mr. Andrews also made several ignorant statements that anyone with a bit of common sense and access to the right documents could see are wrong. ie, Tilikum was not aggressive with Dawn, Tilikum has had few, if any aggressive incidents, etc.

I’m no “expert,” but even I could see the contradictions and outright misinformation in this report.


One thought on “SeaWorld’s “Expert”: A Criticism of Jeff Andrew’s Report

  1. Pingback: Seaworld accidents | Rapidrefillwas

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