Greenpeace would have been proud of the BBC last night.
Caught between the rock of trying to report on one of the day’s hottest story – that of the tragic death of Dawn Brancheau at the Orlando, Seaworld by a killer Whale – and the hard place of their own commitment to liberal values which must espouse environmentalism and be diametrically opposed to those nasty Japanese who actually – eek! – kill Whales, they were in some difficulties.
Superior journalism came through with flying colours. (Sarcasm warning!)
Forced by the common knowledge factor to admit that this was not the first death at the hands of these mammals, they conceded that Nootka, another Orca killer whale was one of three whales implicated in the death of 20-year old Keltie Byrne, 20 years ago, but only mentioned sotto voce that Tilikum, the killer whale implicated in the most recent death had ‘reportedly’ been involved.
That delicately took care of the ‘who’ factor. Moving swiftly on to the ‘what’ factor, as in ‘what should happen now’, they managed to completely gloss over the commercial factor by reverting to baby language, and describing Tilikum as ‘a daddy’ and a ‘grand-father’ who was ‘needed’ by the rest of the pod ‘to keep order’ – sub text…. there could be more deaths if you insist we destroy this cuddly whale. This conveniently ignored Tilikum’s immense value to the Seaworld zoo as a breeding stud who has ‘fathered’ – if we are to stick to the BBCs cuddly terms – most of the other ‘million pound’ Orca whales kept as a visitor attraction at the $2.7 billion theme park.
The Greenpeace campaign to ‘Save the Whales’ has resulted in strict laws regarding the capture of Whales for entertainment or edible purposes, thus increasing the value of Tilikum’s prowess as a stud during his short life span – Whales in captivity live for an average 5/6 years as against 30 to 60 in the wild.
For those not able to travel immediately to Florida to sit ringside and salivate over the possibility of yet another young girl in skin-tight wet suit being dragged to an undignified drowning, the Internet is alive with the search for a video showing the full ghastly details – the first person to put it up on Youtube is expected to make a handsome profit.
Seaworld is also expecting an increase in the number of visitors, just as soon as they can get the annoying Health and Safety people out of their hair. Their press release is a masterpiece of Peter Singer-ese.
“Many people are asking about the future care of Tilikum, the whale involved in the incident. We have every intention of continuing to interact with this animal, though the procedures for working with him will change. We are still reviewing this incident and will evaluate the situation and make a decision accordingly.”
“We have received several requests to clarify our previous statement on Tilikum. We took on the care of Tilikum 18 years ago and we will continue to care for the animal as we always have regarding his social and psychological stimulation, care and nutrition. We are reviewing our protocol on the proximity of our employees and Tilikum.””
I can find no report of an Orca Whale in the wild killing a human being – apart from Jonah’s apocryphal account, so surely the ‘what should we do now’ question would be best answered by letting all the Whales go back to the open sea where human’s are perfectly safe from them?