Seaquarium Will Pay $7000 for Endangering Trainers in the Water with Captive Orca Lolita
For immediate release:
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited and fined the Miami Seaquarium for putting trainers in the water with an orca named Lolita, thereby violating worker safety laws. The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a formal complaint about this issue to OSHA on December 11, 2013. In a recent investigation, OSHA found trainers working with Lolita were exposed to various lethal hazards. The agency has required Seaquarium to remove its trainers from engaging in “wet work and dry work performances” in the pool. Because of the serious nature of the violation OSHA is fining the Miami Seaquarium $7,000.
In April 2014, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld OSHA’s enforcement of worker safety laws against SeaWorld for trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death at that marine theme park. Earlier enforcement may have prevented the death of the SeaWorld trainer. In 2010, Dawn was killed in front of a crowd of spectators when a 12,000 pound orca named Tilikum dragged her under water—as discussed in the popular documentary Blackfish. Suspecting the Miami Seaquarium was committing the same offenses as SeaWorld, ALDF sent an investigator to the Seaquarium in May, where trainers were found performing in the water with Lolita. As a result, ALDF renewed its complaint to OSHA, attaching video footage captured by ALDF’s investigator, and OSHA completed its own inspection of the park on July 10, 2014.
“We celebrate OSHA’s swift enforcement against this dangerous facility,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Miami Seaquarium is risking trainers’ lives to exploit Lolita, a wild-captured orca, for huge revenue. The corporation continues to disregard worker safety and animal welfare laws as long as it brings in big profits.”
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF