SeaWorld claims that such close interaction is essential, not only to create exciting shows, but also to enhance the “bond” between trainers and whales. This perceived “bond” exists, however, only in the fantasies of SeaWorld personnel, and may well be one reason trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed [at the Florida SeaWorld site].
Orcas, even those born in captivity, are by no stretch of the imagination domesticated animals. They do not “bond” with their captors simply because they can be trained to obey commands. Believing she had a “bond” with Tillikum (the killer whale) may have caused Brancheau to let down her guard with a huge and dangerous predator.
This anthropomorphic myth is the very heart of the SeaWorld message. It is the theme of their “BELIEVE” extravaganza, and the epitome of the false image of nature portrayed to employees and public alike. Orcas have been captured, bred, dominated and displayed for some 45 years in theme parks and aquariums, but that does not demonstrate an ethereal connection between human and animal. That is simply bondage.