EarthSourceMedia reports for Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
‘Get Some Tilikum’
‘Tilikum oh Tilikum
Shamu of the North
Seven tons reduced to runs
of swimming back and forth‘
Passing through the homeless district of San Diego, I saw an ominous sign; ‘SeaWorld Way’ sat the words, atop a silver pole. I had a few days to kill, in town to fight against the dreaded San Diego sewage waiver allowing that city to dump 50 Billion gallons of poorly treated human sewage into the ocean each year. I was staying at the KOA campgrounds in Chula Vista, a town dear to my heart for its beautiful diversity and the great food that goes along with it.
Feeling massochistic, I decided to drive the big RV down SeaWorld Way, just to see how kids must feel when they finally pester the family enough to take them to see the killer whales. As we arrived at the park, I asked the nice lady at the drive-up booth if I could take her picture, and she said ‘ok’.
that drove you to the kill?
I really had no business being in a place like Sea World San Diego.I have never been to a zoo in my life, because I believe in seeing creatures in their natural habitat, otherwise, how can you expect them to act as they do in the wild? For instance, these powerful creatures wear their dorsal fins bent over and limp in captivity, and no one seems to know why. It's obvious to me though. A creature who weighs 15 thousand pounds and eats other whales simply can't reconcile captivity. When I finally got up the nerve to go inside, and photographed the stuffed animals for sale, I went down the steps to the 'viewing area', where an Orca immediately swam by the wall-sized plexiglass and humbled me with his massive presence. I snapped off a photo before the great sadness overtook me and I began to cry. I cried out loud, surrounded by republicans, families, children, tourists, and travelers- and even like-minded people. I felt the sting of pain through my heart that surely must be as he who stands before a firing squad, with my compassion for this magnificent royalty-of-the-sea gushing crimson to the floor. It hurt so bad I could watch them no more. I staggered backward, climbed the steps and headed for the exit. Bleary eyed, I pointed back toward the giant cetacean, promising to one day return.
‘Tilikum oh Tilikum
Your drooping dorsal lies!
Unsheath yon banana teeth
and something nearby dies!’
Not all these attacks are by the large males. One attack recently happened during a sonagram, where a whale was being readied for ‘artificial insemination’- Whale rape! Tilikum himself is not allowed near other whales, is kept in a tank barely larger than his hulking body, and is kept only for sperm for the captive breeding program.
‘Tilikum’ is an Inuit word meaning, ‘The people’ or something close to that. And among our people, Tilikum is the giant Killer Whale, Orcinus Orca, who could be captured, could be ensnared, could be incarcerated- but could never be broken. Could not be trained. Could not be owned, enslaved, or in any other way dominated.
And so the pretty young girl who visited Sea World at nine years of age and announced to her parents, “This is what I want to do when I grow up”, indeed did fulfill that dream. And who knows, she may have gone with the greatest of self-satisfaction, having taken it all the way, even to the death. But self satisfaction is not dignity. There is no dignity in being part of a whale kidnapping ring, who teaches kids every day that to enslave the sea is somehow ‘ok’.
But for Tilikum? There is great dignity. And that dignity grows with every fresh kill.
As a civilization newly awakened to our role in changing the planet, we must bring the practice of capturing, holding and tormenting these intelligent creatures to an end.
‘Tilikum, oh Tilikum
you have languished for so long
Let us end your anguish
and hear your orca song! ‘
Get some, Tilikum!
Tags: tilikum, sea world, orca, orcas, killer whale, sea world trainer, orlando, seaworld, orcinus orca, sea world san diego, killed, trainer killed, amusement park, earth. source, media, animal, whaling, dawn brancheau, activism