Loro Parque trainer died from asphyxia caused by compression of the chest in rough play

Loro Parque trainer died from asphyxia caused by compression of the chest in rough play

A Loro Parque press release says that it believes Alexis died as a result of asphyxia caused by compression of the chest. It seems that although they were training for a new Christmas special, the actual exercise in which the accident occurred was one that had been performed daily for the last three years, and involved both whale and trainer submerging together to gain speed to be propelled to the side of the pool side by side.

The whale, Keto, 14 years old and born in captivity in the USA, is said to be the largest and most experienced of the cetaceans at Loro Parque. On this occasion, however, he reacted unexpectedly and Alexis was pushed out of the way. Some sources have been saying that Keto was known to “play rough”, and had been known to challenge older whales. As such, he was not considered completely predictable, but on the other hand, Alexis himself was one of the most experienced trainers in Loro Parque, and it has been stressed repeatedly that Keto’s behaviour was not an attack.  La Opinion

Originally Posted 24 December: A Loro Parque trainer has been accidentally killed by one of the whales during the first training session for a Christmas spectacular. The trainer was 29-year-old Alexis Martínez from Puerto de la Cruz, and the accident occurred at 10.30 am this morning. The other 7 trainers were also present in the training session. As far as can be determined at present, Alexis was hit by the whale, and his death was caused by drowning after being under water for several minutes before he was rescued.

He was immediately assisted by the specialist personnel at Loro Parque while Emergency Services were called, and amidst resuscitation attempts, was transferred to the Bell Vue Clinic by ambulance, where he was admitted with cardiac arrest. Obviously, an autopsy will be needed before the precise cause of death can be confirmed.

The news has distressed Loro Parque staff immensely, and the planned Orca show has been suspended for the moment. Alexis had worked at the Parque since 2004, where he was dearly loved by colleagues.  Canarias24Horas

The trainer was Alexis Martínez, and the accident occurred, as said above, during the first training session for the Christmas Special planned for the New Year. The other 7 trainers were also present in the training session. As far as can be determined right now, Alexis was hit by the whale, and his death was caused by drowning because he was under the water for several minutes before he could be rescued.

He was immediately assisted by the specialist personnel at Loro Parque and Emergency Services were called immediately. Amidst resuscitation attempts, he was transferred to the Bell Vue Clinic by ambulance, where he was admitted with cardiac arrest. Obviously, an autopsy will be needed before the precise cause of death can be confirmed.

The news has distressed Loro Parque staff immensely, and the planned Orca show has been suspended for the moment. Alexis had worked at the Parque since 2004, where he was dearly loved by colleagues.


  1. Orcas are wild animals. You wouldn’t get into a ring with a bear so people shouldn’t get in the pool with killer whales.There has been numerous trainor injuries worldwide. Another trainer drowned in the Sealand aquarium in Victoria, BC.

    Captivity also results in both psychological and physical harm to orcas. Their ocean lives cannot be duplicated in pool prisons. It is time to phase out the captivity of orcas and other dolphins.

  2. This is a true tragedy, but I imagine that Alexis must have known the risk when he got this job, but that doesn’t mean he deserved it at all.

    My condolences go to Alexis’s family, it is a true tragedy that he had to lose his life during the holidays.

    As I said, he must have known the risk, but considering that he still kept going for 5 years, he must have loved his job. But let this be a reminder that orcas are not teddy bears, they are animals that have minds and wills of their own, and they will use them.

  3. I wonder what will happen to that whale, does it now get phased out of the show and maybe get it’s freedom back. Accidents will happen when we interract with large hunting creatures in pathetic small pools. While it is sad that this employee died, it is just as sad that these creatures are held in these small concrete prisons.

  4. if the orca would have been free like it should be this would have never happend people don’t relize that these animals are not normal for one there mentally unstable there act normal one minute and the next minute there attack each other or there trainers. so its safer to swim with them in the wild and see them where they belong wild and free with there familys.

  5. You guys who think that everything should be “free.” What is freedom? Your trash and chemicals are destroying the oceans at exponentially increasing rates. Japan and others still harvest whales and dolphins in bloody massacres. Soon, the ONLY safe place left will be in the huge multi-million dollar well-cared-for tanks located in only the wealthiest parks and zoos who provide top-dollar care and support for their stars. Until the self-righteous folks can make the oceans a safe future, captivity will not be seen as concrete jails, but as a guaranteed sanctuary for those few lucky ones who live in them. The human body will always be weak, and swimming with ocras and walking bears will always be a risk…but so is driving home. Millions are killed by drunk drivers, yet we do not look at prohibition as the answer for the few who couldn’t handle it. Nor should you sentance all the orcas and dolphins to death by forcing their release into the dying oceans.

  6. I completely agree with Joe’s reply. Those who think that captivity is all negative should think again. I do not completely support it, however, we can not undo the harm already done in the past when the first whales and dolphins were captured. These animals now depend on humans for survival. It is our OBLIGATION to do what we can to provide the care that they need seeing as they will not strive in the wild if they were freed. I love animals dearly, and work with animals on a daily basis. No, I may not be handling orcas, but I understand how important it is to respect them and their space. I’ve been bit, scratched and pounced on multiple times. Accidents happen, we all lose loved ones at some point- it’s life. To Alexis’ family, my heart goes out to your loss. To those of you who are anti-captivists, stop b*tching and put your money where your mouth is. Help provide the necessary needs to build them larger homes (we all know Lolita needs one) or to develop sanctuaries for them. Throwing these magnificent creatures into the wild after knowing only life in captivity will do more harm then good. If you love them, help them, don’t hand them a death sentence.

  7. Joe, and Tia, you are both idiots. What do you mean by your pathetic rhetorical question, “What is freedom?”. Freedom is the right to choose what you do, where you live, etc WITHOUT interference of others. The human race constantly preaches how great freedom is, and yet we force these animals to endure lives in prisons. Yes, FORCE. Do you honestly think that an animal that once swam the ocean would choose to live in a concrete prison? They don’t CARE that you people want to “help” them, and they couldn’t care less that you want to “save” them. What you’re doing to them in that horrible little prison is far worse then what COULD (note the keyword COULD) happen in the wild.

    As for the chemicals and toxins in the wild argument, there are massive clean ups of oceans and bays going on around the world. I mean, sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s getting better, and these toxins don’t just *magically* appear in a whale overnight, they take YEARS to build up (approx. 30-40 years). So MAYBE if we released captive orcas into the wild, we could clean up most of the waste in 30-40 years? Did that thought ever occur to you smart guy? Or were you too busy visiting marine parks watching animals parade themselves around for your entertainment?

    As for the whale/dolphin slaughter argument… WRONG. Japan doesn’t hunt orca. The capture of wild orca is ILLEGAL, due to their endangered status (caused by places like Sea World capturing them from the wild many years ago, mind you). No country in the world captures, or kills, wild orca anymore.

    And Tia, your argument is wrong as well.

    Those orcas captured years ago are NOT dependent on humans for survival. They still have their basic instincts, they know how to hunt. Many captured animals had learned from their pod how to survive before they were forcefully taken from the wild. The only captured orca that was released, Keiko, is a completely different story to other orcas, such as Lolita. Keiko was captured at a VERY young age and didn’t know how to hunt. Also, Keiko WOULD of survived if they knew where his pod was, but they didn’t. In comparison with Lolita, they know where her pod is, and she has a very strong chance of survival.

    As for the orcas born in captivity, I have no doubt that they will survive as well. They are part of a pod now aren’t they? If you release them, their family members will teach them how to hunt and survive.
    So you think that releasing captive born animals into the wild will kill them? What about the captive-breeding program of pandas in China? Are you saying all those pandas, that will eventually be released, will die?

    The only REAL reason you want to keep them in a tiny tank is so you can satisfy your own curiosity. So YOU can watch them parade around with people on their backs, doing fancy splashes. But people will lose respect for these amazing and magnificent animals when they are piss-pots for entertainment.

  8. Lets see why keeping orca in captivity is bad:

    • Orca family members stay together for LIFE.
    • An orca pod can travel as far as 100 miles in one day, and they can dive to depths of up to 500 feet. In captivity, they can only swim in circles.
    • An orca’s primary sense is echolocation. In captivity, this highly developed sonar (which, by the way, is SO advanced that it makes the US navy’s sonar look like a toy) is severely inhibited. Their sonar bounces off the concrete walls, rendering them senseless. It is like forcing a human to wear a blind fold all their life.
    • Orcas only live for about 20 years in captivity. Their wild counterparts live for about 80 years.

    These are just SOME of the many reasons why orcas should not be kept in a small tank. This trainer really had it coming. Orcas are not toys, they are wild, the the WILD is where they should be.

  9. I never said keeping orcas captive was good. Thanks for the info on why captivity is bad. I already learnt those points when I was 10 years old.

    Those orcas in captivity if thrown into the wild aren’t going to learn how to hunt from their family because of either a) their family no longer exists or b) what is left of their family was born in captivity as well. I have a dear respect for animals and would love to give them what they need. But what they need costs money, money that I alone do not have. There are big shots across the globe with big houses and fancy cars that don’t give a flying f*ck about these whales, yet are responsible for holding them in tiny tanks instead of doing something to help them.

    If you really care about seeing them freed go send a message to them instead of tearing down someone you don’t know for voicing their opinion. PLUS Joe’s comment about the slaughter in Japan was not incorrect. This debate isn’t just about orcas. It is about the unfair treatment of animals in general, therefore there ARE dolphins being slaughter currently and no one is doing anything about that either. They are being teared from their families in the middle of a blood bath. Then, once dragged out of their home, are slit at the throat and feel that pain until they completely bleed to death. But that isn’t nearly as important to you as orcas living in captivity. AT least they are still ALIVE. So many the Japan issue should be something on your list of priorities to consider to do something about.

    Then to the point of this freedom issue. If they are to be freed properly IT COSTS MONEY! Money that people aren’t willing to pay. It will also take time to be done properly to make sure the animals can handle the adjustment. It typically takes weeks to switch a dog (this does not always apply but more than others) from one food to another without having the chance of them barfing for days because their stomach can’t handle the change. Moving from a tiny tank to the ocean is also a huge change. Things have to be done gradually in order to provide success. Throwing them out into the ocean without taking the precautions can be extremely dangerous to the health of the animals (not saying their health is any better captive – I know they are susceptible to some diseases, high stress level, poor nutrition, etc.) So, like I said it takes time and money- two things the people responsible for these animals are not willing to give up and you are also taking a risk. So tell me honey, do you have the time and money to free all 45+ orcas held captive. I don’t think so.

    I never once thought an orca as a toy. They have the power to kill. Yet, Sea World trainer’s believe they have the power to love. I strongly believe that if Sea World trainer’s opinion was to free them there actually might be some change. They are the one’s who spend every day with those animals and if they think it best, I bet their opinion might be heard.

    Also, just a quick biology/evolution lesson for you about those toxins, etc that you mentioned. Those orcas in the wild, genetically are quite different from a captive born. They are born with specific antibodies to protect them from specific diseases in the wild- things not exposed to captive orcas. Do you think that maybe, oh just maybe, a third generation orca in captivity (which exists) would still have the gene to protect them? As far as I was taught, either you use it or you lose it (this concept also applies to psychology as well, and we both know that psychologically orcas captive vs. wild have some differences there as well).

    My point is the damage has been done, humans are indeed responsible. Some idiots in the past thought it would be fun to lock up some animal they thought to be less important than the human race. These animals have been forced to adapt to their captive surroundings and it is going to take a hell a lot of effort to make them adapt back to wild surroundings- yet not all of them have ever known a wild surrounding. Those captive born I can almost guarantee will not survive in the wild because no one is going to take the time to take the proper precautions to see it happen and there are factors that may even make it impossible. I know there is a lot wrong with captivity, like I said in my past comment, I do not completely support it. That does not mean I am for it, it just means that I can’t see a positive change in the next ten to twenty years. I’ve seen many arguments like yours for years, yet nothing has happened. The result of what happened with Keiko is making people think it is not possible. That makes those who could make it possible not want to try in fear of wasting their precious money on failure. For someone like Lolita, or Corky, there may be a chance. Yet, no one is willing to take that chance.

    People know captivity is wrong, yet they also know lying, stealing, and even killing is wrong. Still it happens. Every day. Like I said in my earlier comment, IT IS OUR OBLIGATION TO HELP THESE ANIMALS BECAUSE A HUMAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PUTTING THEM WHERE THEY ARE. LIKE I SAID BEFORE NO HUMAN IS WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE FOR THEM TO GET WHAT THEY REALLY NEED. THEREFORE! YOU CALLING MYSELF AND THIS JOE IDIOTS MAKES YOU THE IDIOT CAUSE YOUR B*TCHING TO US ABOUT FLAWS IN OUR COMMENT WHEN YOU CLEARLY HAVE FLAWS YOURSELF. YES I KNOW YOUR POINTS IN YOUR SECOND COMMENT ARE TRUE BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THESE CAPTIVE WHALES WILL BE HAVING A LIFE IN OPEN OCEAN ANY TIME SOON. Also, if you wanted to make your point fine then you are free to do that, but addressing someone else and trying to make them feel like sh*t for having a different opinion then your own is just down right low. Also, so if having no sympathy for the life lost here. I once again send out my love to Alexis’ family. Hope you enjoy reading my reply. Maybe you will understand how I felt when I read yours.

  10. Okay, first of all, it’s called “rehabilitation”.
    There are MANY MANY programs all over the world involving the rehabilitation of captive animals. Like I mentioned in my previous post (which you “conveniently” ignored), the breeding program of Pandas in China was made to ensure the release of captive pandas and boost wild numbers. Why can’t this be applied to captive orcas? Keiko was a captive orca. They taught him to hunt, and, granted he only survived for 5 years in the wild on his own, he still learned basic skills needed for survival. He WOULD have survived if they knew where his pod was. Unfortunately they didn’t, so he was released straight into the wild.
    Sure, rehabilitation costs money. But maybe Sea World, what with all their fancy equipment and massive income from ignorant tourists, could actually put money towards rehabilitating these animals?

    Also about the slaughter argument – again, wrong. The captivity industry THRIVES on the dolphin slaughters. If people CONTINUE to think that it is okay to visit these animals, then the slaughters will go on. Taiji makes a few hundred dollars out of a dead dolphin, but hundreds of thousands of dollars out of one live dolphin. Marine parks from all over the world BUY these dolphins to put in their own little parks, and as long as the captivity industry survives, that ensures the survival of these dolphin drives. Watch “The Cove”. It says it all.

    Again, Sea World has the money and facilities to ensure this release, but they won’t. Why? Well then they’d have to kiss their massive income goodbye. They sure as hell won’t be letting those animals go, and they’re going to milk them for all they’re worth. And no, i’m not talking about the trainers. And you talk about “throwing” them into the ocean. This isn’t just some random, ill-thought out scheme. There are biologists (in association with Orca Network, an orca research group) devising a plan for another orca’s release.

    And yes, there ARE trainers who campaign against captivity. Heard of Ric O’Barry? Ex-dolphin trainer, also trained Flipper for the TV series. He is CONSTANTLY stating why captivity is bad for these animals. Like I said before, watch “The Cove”.

    Oh wow, thank you for your biology lesson! Yes, I do know about toxins and antibodies, I DID study year 12 biology. But you somehow forgot to mention that these antibodies are passed down from the mother to the baby, exactly like humans. Ever wonder why all those Dark Ages plagues aren’t as common anymore? Because people built up resistance, and passed their resistance to those diseases onto their children. It’s exactly the same for all mammals. So any resistance that the mother orca may have will have been passed down to her baby. And no, you don’t “use it or lose it”. People retain genes and pass them down for many generations. Again, that’s why we don’t have many diseases from the Dark Ages anymore – resistance.

    Actually, orcas are wild animals. They haven’t been domesticated like dogs. They are wild, and like many wild animals, they retain their natural instincts, which I believe means they still have a chance for survival (yes, even the captive-born ones) if the proper procedures were followed (that means people with the time, effort, knowledge and money… and YES, there ARE people out there willing and able to do it).
    Keiko was a completely different story, and unfortunately many of the facts have been twisted. He was captured from an EXTREMELY young age – before he had learned how to survive on his own. Although he WAS rehabilitated for a while, this was not enough. His survival would have been guaranteed if he was released with his pod, but that was not the case. However, he survived for 5 years on his own before he died of pneumonia (a common cause of death for wild orca).

    Again, you should watch “The Cove”. It explains the link between captivity and dolphin slaughters, something which many people are trying to cover up.

    And I never said they were going to have a life on the ocean -_-”
    But continuing to support captivity means that you support what they did. I mean, SURE, they don’t do it anymore, but that’s not the point. You’re supporting a place that believed it was okay to tear apart pods and kill innocent animals.

    Actually, I don’t. Because really I don’t understand why you would support slavery.

  11. JOE,
    You are 100% right!!
    People who disagree…your just denying it all.

  12. i dont think it’s right to keep an animal in captivity, away from its natural home. i mean, imagine if it was you taken from your family!!! animals should stay where they belong, in the wild! if people don’t get a chance to see them, well, that’s their problem! you shouldnt force slavery onto others! its wrong!!!

  13. Of Dolphins and Decency

    by Richard O’Barry, Marine Mammal Specialist, Earth Island Institute.

    In situations of great stress in captivity they (dolphins) have been known to commit suicide by starvation, battering against walls, or drowning.—The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition 2001-05.

    When you consider that dolphins and other whales have been around on this planet for at least 50 million years, compared with much less than a single million years for us human beings, you have to wonder how we got control so quickly over them. They have larger brains than we have. They’re bigger and stronger, faster, sleeker and altogether more perfectly formed than we are. And yet, just as we have come to dominate 30 per cent of the world (that which is above water) in the short time we’ve been around, we could say that dolphins and other whales are the dominate species in the other 70 percent, which is water.

    The bottom line is that we’re both at the top in our separate worlds, cetaceans in their watery domain, we on land. When we scan the horizon for similarities, we have a moment of recognition because we’re actually very much alike. We’re both mammals, for instance, mammals of a high order for we’re both self-aware, and we’ve both adapted almost perfectly to the world we live in. As mammals we both breathe air, mothers in both worlds suckle their young in loving family groups around which is woven a way of living that fosters social rules maintaining a balance like the golden mean of ancient Greece.

    At least that’s true of dolphins and other whales.

    Where did we go wrong? What happened in our world to make so many of us rush with such abandon into the exploitation of our counterparts in the other 70 percent of the world? Why do we capture these beautiful fellow creatures and make them objects of fun? And oddly enough the most fun we seem to have is capturing them, pinning them up and making them pull us through the water, one after the other,. Why would anyone who understood what was actually going on enjoy this? How can we, who do understand what’s going on, tolerate it? And how can those who exploit dolphins and other whales do so without a ripple of conscience, as if they had a right to?

    Well, as we all know, the short answer is that we have a history of this. You may recall that slavery was only recently put aside as an okay thing to do. Almost certainly that happened because it was no longer economically feasible. Indeed where it is feasible, as in enforced prostitution of children and things like that, it still goes on like crazy. Maybe at the heart of all this is our sophisticated world-wide economic system whose goal is to maximize profits regardless of collateral damage. But the history of slavery in general is a clue to how we can stop this travesty. If we stop it from being profitable, it will go away.

    The first so-called dolphinarium began in 1938 at Marine Studios in St. Augustine, Florida, USA. Now there are scores of dolphinaria all over the world, and more all the time are being established. If you could collect all the abuse to dolphins and other whales, the pain, the horror, frustration, the dolphin suicides, the cries for help—if you were to gather all these atrocities from over the years it would be like a thousand hells.

    Most countries would not permit this abuse for the real reason they exist: money. Most countries have laws against cruelty to animals, laws that began early in the 19th Century. But obviously these laws have a loophole because, despite all our efforts, displaying dolphins publicly for money is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Hunters of dolphins, suppliers and shippers, marketers, park construction workers, trainers—this list goes on and on and they all cash in. Some nations allow it because they’ve got bigger problems. Some nations see nothing wrong with it. The rest allow it for the wrong reason: that it’s educational. They say that many people would never get to see a dolphin except for the dolphinaria. But what about all the people who will never see a snow leopard? saber-toothed tiger? Or the do-do bird? On and on. Taken even at face value, their argument is a fraud, because these dolphinaria are not educational, they’re anti-educational. They show not a dolphin in his own world but a trained dolphin, a dolphin trained to act like a clown, in our world.

    And then they have the unmitigated gall, the chutzpah, to tell us, “Look! See how they smile? They love doing tricks for us!”

    Don’t be fooled. Those dolphins are not smiling. If one of those dolphins were to fall dead on the dock, he would still wear that look and it would still not be a smile.

    It may be tempting to point out that we are not personally to blame for what is happening to dolphins and other whales. And that’s true. We don’t personally capture them and put them in what to them are tiny torture chambers, and we don’t withhold food till they perform silly little acrobatic tricks to our liking. We’re not to blame, not a single one of us, in the same way we’re not to blame for the world’s murders, arsons, kidnappings and so on. We’re not to blame because (1) we don’t personally do these things and (2) we’ve helped pass laws against them, laws with good stiff penalties that express our desire to make the world free from such abuse. We pass laws against murder, kidnapping and all the rest not because of some abstraction about society or the rule of law, but because we’re sick of it. We’ve had enough. Just like now we’re revolted by those who capture dolphins in the wild and imprison them for the rest of their lives.

    They capture dolphins in the wild but claim to replace them by letting them breed in captivity. This too is a fraud. Dolphins born in captivity never learn to catch a live fish in the wild and are unequipped to live there.

    A lot of misguided talk surrounds another similarity between human beings and dolphins in captivity: their committing suicide when stressed. When dolphins in captivity are greatly stressed, they sometimes obviously feel the need to escape by whatever means. This is a big problem because they don’t have guns or poison as we do in such circumstances. What can they do? Some of these dolphins batter themselves to death against the walls of their prison. Others refuse to eat until they waste away and die. Dolphins and other whales are not like any other mammal in the way they breathe. While humans and all the other mammals breathe automatically, dolphins don’t have that automatic reflex; every breath they take is deliberate. When human beings fall into deep water, we drown because we lose consciousness and then, when the automatic reflex kicks in, we breathe water. Not so the dolphin. The dolphin will kill himself by drowning if he deliberately breathes water, but, more likely, he dies for lack of oxygen in his blood caused by not breathing at all. This suicide option the dolphin takes is another proof of his self-awareness, without which suicide would never even occur to him

    If words alone, if logic, reason, facts and history were enough to destroy the dolphin industry that has warped our lives, they would be long gone now. We need more than words, we need laws to stop them. We know that it cannot be done overnight. It may take many years. We may even have to compromise a little. But now is the time to start eliminating this evil or it will never happen in our lifetime.

  14. Everyone should read Richard O’Barry’s post! Dolphins and whales should not be held captive, people and companies should be held responsible for the damage done to the oceans. It is too bad that trainer lost his life, but he knew the risks and he continued because people want to rule over mammals, animals and reptiles. Every living creature has a reason for being on this planet and everyone and everything should be able to live in peace…will this ever happen

  15. “Freedom must’ve been first on this orca’s Christmas wish list. Orcas swim up to 100 miles a day in the open ocean, so confining them to tanks in theme parks is like confining a person to a bathtub. Captured from their ocean homes by boats that chase orca pods to shallow waters so that the animals can be surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted onto the boats, some orcas die from shock or stress. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia when water enters their lungs through their blowholes. After they are torn away from their homes and families, these animals are then forced to learn circus-style tricks from trainers who withhold food and isolate animals who refuse to perform.”

  16. hello if this was a perfect world no animal would have to be kept in the zoos or other place like it but its not their are pluses to having some animals in captivety such as breeding programs for very endangered animals that might likely be gone in future generations i dont agree with getting animals out of the wild and putting them in captive cirmustance but in some cases like bear issues it can save their life so they dont have to be put down by park rangers ect i love all animals i have done animal rescue for 20 yrs and their are pro and cons to both sides of the issues and some times we just have to agreed to disagree and cause everyone is different and comes from different back grounds not everyone will think a like

  17. I hope that anyone who thinks that captivity of these creatures is ok will be confined to a dog kennel for the rest of their existence. Cruel.

  18. I’m horrified by this the trainer deserved it because he should not be taking these beautiful creatures from the ocean and trying to demesticate the orca because they were meant to live in the big beautiful ocean not abused by retards like the man in this sad arrival

  19. Don’t swim with the orca in a tank, don’t traine the orca , don’t feed the orca, don’t hold the orca, and don’t make an orca industry , don’t capture orca from the ocean, and let them free and you’ll see , you’ll go to paradise.

  20. I agree with all these wonderful people who are posting. Read the Richard O’Barry post. It’s 100% true.

  21. Gwen You rock and Richard i cried reading your post…the last time i went to a zoo i wa 9 and even then i though it was horrible to keep WILD and animals in tiny places and by the way i did not learnd anything i only remember a lion going from one side to the cage to the another!!
    and tia and joe you are idiots!! and tia needs to not speak about animals since it looks like she sees them just like entertainment machines.

  22. As regards cetaceans in captivity I would suggest those who wish to have look at some facts (e,g captive survivorship, not using sonar captivity, captive suicide, etc) I would recommend you look at my web site of this matter:


  23. My, my how self rightous some people get. I wonder how many people pontificating on this site keep a dog or cat. How many of you have hamsters or guinea pigs, budgies etc.. How many of you complain about rubbish in the streets but empty your car ashtrays out on the road.
    Loro Parque does wonderful work taking in animals. So if you are going to complain about the Orcas why don’t you complain about the Tigers that live at Loro Parque. these are the ones that would probably have been destroyed had they not been taken in by a man with vision at Loro Parque.
    People have been posting, commenting on the cruelty. I don’t think they are treated any worse than horses trained to jump high fences with someone on their back.
    This is an opinion, my opinion, please note that I do not call other people idiots nor do I expect anonymous people to be abusive about me.
    Peace and happiness to you all and our thoughts must be with someone doing a job he loved and his family

  24. Thank you Rick for your wonderful post!

    Orcas do NOT belong in tanks. They swim 80-100 miles per day in the wild. Can any of you fathom how many times and orca would have to swim around a tank to equal that?

    They belong with their families. When a young orca is taken from the sea, it is the same as ripping a child from its mother.

    If you want to observe orcas, come to the state of Washington. You can go to San Juan Island and sit on the shore and watch them from Lime Kiln Park. And you can watch them in their natural habitat. Forget the tricks and the music. Sit on the shore and watch a mother orca teach her calf how to breach. Once you have witnessed the beauty of that, you will realize just how wrong all the SeaWorlds and aquariums are.

  25. I think the only way to really appreciate and understand the captivity issue is to learn about dolphin and orcas in the wild and understand their family and social bonds and their natural behaviors that they carry out throughout their entire lives. Once someone learns about this, it is impossible to be ok with keeping them in captivity.

    Last summer I read several books as well as online resources about Orcas. I was then lucky enough to spend 5 days kayaking in British Columbia where I encountered the northern resident Orcas every day. On one afternoon, two orcas swam over to my kayak from 1/2 mile away and spent 10 minutes swimming past me just 10 feet away.

    There is nothing that compares to seeing them in their natural habitat — swimming, feeding, playing and sleeping in their family groups. Taking them away from this or denying them that life is wrong. It denies them their natural rights and it denies us the ability to truly appreciate them.

  26. Is really sad to read all the opinions about this tragedy, people with out any idea about animal training and follow their own thoughts and no having idea what was the real problem.
    Animals in captivity are great!, as far we provide the right care and I do understand when people pin point living space but there is too many things that can be done in order to provide a good quality of life, thats for sure!
    the real factor in this issue was the lack of experience working with Orcas and frame time!
    My self, a person with 20 years of experience working with Marine mammals I might say that the accident was cause because frustration.
    The trainer pushed the Orca to the limit in order to reach the right criteria over the behavior, never got any reinforcement and the reaction from the animal came!

    missing the ocean, family or rough player is just fantasy , it was just bad handling from trainers side.
    as simple as that.

  27. “Man cannot give freedom, he can only take it away”.

    Jacques Yves Cousteau

  28. Right you are Mike! I’ve had 33 years experience as a Marine Mammal Behaviorist. I started before Flipper was a household word. Been retired 12 yrs now. The trainer had only 4 yrs experience…Ain’t enuff time

  29. OK, both sides have points, but it is extremely sh*tty to say that he deserved it. I’m sure you’ve all lost loved ones, how the hell would you feel if someone said your sister ‘deserved’ to die in a car accident from a drunk driver? Or maybe your dad ‘deserved’ to have a heart attack? What the hell? He didn’t capture any of them. So sue him if he took a job where you can do something as amazing as have a relationship with an orca. Having that job was about how much he loved them, how the F can anyone say he deserved to die in an accident. So far as we know he never mistreated or abused the orcas, and Keto wasn’t necessarily attacking him. Have a little heart for another human being and the people he left behind you ridiculous scumbags.

  30. Just so you know, keeping a cat or dog is completely different to an orca in captivity, so that analogy is incorrect. Orcas are not domesticated animals, they are wild.

  31. First off I would like to tell Tia,is well said!!!Another thing I would to say is to have some respect for the person that died.As for Keiko,was not in the wild for 5 years? I worked with Kieko,in Iceland. What makes Rico O’Barry,a expert? He trained Flipper 50 yrs ago!!!Oh there’s cove!Been there too,wasn’t a pretty sight have to agree with that!When’s the last time any of you meat eaters been to slaughter house? EVER SEE THEM KILL A COW,PIG OR EVEN A CHICKEN!!! Well I been training animals for the past 40 years AND STILL DO.I have worked with Killers Whales back in the 60’S.Worked with them at Sea World with some of the finest creative trainers in the business.Alexis,God Bless You and my heart goes out to your family.

  32. One other thing I would like to mention is that Alexis,was killed by a animal he loved!!! I been bumped,bitten pushed to the bottom held underwater never thinking I would see daylight again.Orkey thought I was his rubber ducky at Marineland.Oh sure there where times they scared the crap out of me.But the one thing that keep me alive was my experience,I knew how to survive But I never stopped loving any of those whales.Now there’s been talks about the culling of sea lions at the Bonneville Dam Project.Now Thats crap!I heard all the sea lions have left the wharf!Could it be the high rents? Hey Rico,shouldn’t you be there to pretect the sea lions…

  33. People..
    Put your feet in the ground, Rick O’Barry is a lunatic!
    most of the comment that he submit is too emotional, if you planing to based your convictions on that or make it worse on him it would be lame and John you are so right.

  34. Oh yeah John, because this is the internet and we totally believe that you are an animal trainer.

  35. Dear Emily
    I been training animals most likey before you born.

  36. Just because trainers may love orcas and other dolphins, and just because trainers and facilities may provide what humans consider good treatment for the marine mammals, that does not ethically justify removing them from their family and denying them their natural life in the ocean with their pod.

  37. OK,Jeff go hug a cow….

  38. Most people in the marine mammal industry view Ric O’Barry with distaste not because of his activism but because he’s an idiot. He is NO expert . . . have you heard him speak? Go take a zoology class, Ric.

    The senseless killing of animals is however a tragedy.

    As far as cetaceans in captivity . . . take a look at that picture of the whale stadium in the article. I guarantee that there’s not a single person in that audience who gives a flying fuck about the plight of any of those whales. The general population of this world doesn’t care about anything other than getting to see that “fish” jump for their $79.95 admission ticket to “Akbar and Jeff’s Ocean World”.

    Money makes this world go round and as soon as it is highly profitable to keep animals in the wild, that’s where they’ll be. Meanwhile, some of us work very hard to make their time spent with us the best it can be.

  39. Gwen (and similar posts), for lack of a better wording: you are depressingly ignorant about your claims so much so, that I’m hoping you will read this in quiet steadiness (and coming from a non-reactive place), so that the following points have a chance to resonate with you rather than “bounce off”.
    I LEFT the animal husbandry/training industry due to having difficulty reconciling SOME of its components with living a yogi life. I now own a yoga studio but am in my heart still strongly connected to the animals and people that have shaped my life for so many years.
    So GWEN (and similar), this is not meant as a personal attack, I honor and acknoweldge your opinions. But that is really all they are. Definitely lacking in facts, big time.
    There is absolutely ZERO way that an animal that has been trained and held in an aquarium or zoological facility can be SUCCESSFULLY re-released. They DO lose what you call their “instincts” after having been fed out of buckets for the majority of their lives. It is bleeding-heart ignorant roof-top yelling that “freed” Free Willy whale Keiko and caused her to essentially starve in the wild after repeatedly trying to make human contact in quest for food. You kinda sorta touched on this without understanding with clarity what Keiko’s story really means. I spent a good amount of time talking to one of the trainers who actually oversaw the big FREE WILLY campaign and worked with her closely (shout out to Mike! ;)) and first hand witnessed the fanatical call for freedom that caused her her life.

    Sea World makes money by allowing people to see marine mammals up close and personal. That’s a fact. Sea World also runs an unparalleled rescue and rehab program that, in the summer that I worked on the team, rescued, rehabed and RE-RELEASED close to 100 seals and sealions.
    The world, and this issue is not black and white. Please accept this. At Loro Parque I was fortunate enough to witness 4 young children suffering from different stages of cancer be granted their “Make a Wish Foundation” wish and leave their wheelchairs to engage with dolphins in the shallows. Would you call them selfish for interacting with a captive marine mammal? No black or white my dear.
    Let’s not use this tragedy as a platform to voice our opinions of what’s wrong or right with the captive animal industry. Let’s instead come together and honor Alexis’s memory and remember to think, act and speak with compassion for one another.

  40. Hey Guys.

    Let me start by stating I’m on the side of keeping all cetaceans free as well as protected.

    Subjects like this can be highly emotive and as is clearly evident from the discussion above, highly polarising. However each side gains nothing by reducing the tone of the arguement to personal insults, expletives (even with **@~#* replacing the vowels) and statements of trainers deserving what they get (which they don’t). I know its frustrating when people don’t agree with our points of view, but if we all carry on like this we simply dilute the credibility of ourselves and get distracted from the facts.

    In short, isn’t the best solution to try to educate others so they can make the right choice for theses mammals based on the facts. How can we expect them to listen if we appear to them like a bunch of intolerant extremists? Please rein it in a bit and stick to the facts guys, and we may get a result – maybe even a win-win solution?

    On a side, but related note, but possibly worthy of mention on this forum:- Apart form the touchy feeling aspect of captivity, massacre and cruelty, cetaceans are indeed at the top of their world, and we of ours, yet there is a wider consideration with implications likely to reflect back onto both our species in the near future. Plankton.

    Oceanic plankton provides something like 60% of the worlds oxygen (estimated). Taking out the oceans top predators such as cetaceans and sharks removes the population control of middle and lower predators that feed on plankton. If numbers of small baitfish are not controlled as they currently are in the food chain, they will likely eat into the planktonic population, decimating future oxygen production. In turn this may result in an increase of carbon dioxide, leading to global warming and subsequent issues we are familier with from the daily news.

    Is it possible that looking at a bigger picture may allow more people to get involved? We bang on about detruction of the rainforest frequently, because its so visible, yet it produces a fraction of O2 for the planet that the sea does.

    When we start to appreciate the amount of cetaceans and sharks killed worldwide each year in fishing bycatch (approximately 5 million), and sharks drowning after being caught and then finned alive (10-12 million annually), solely for their fins, and when we become aware that we’ve reduced these populations by 70% over the last 30 years we’ll begin to realise how we’re also destroying the invisible world below the surface of the sea as well as the mess we’re making of things on land.

    The above doesn’t factor in other things like pollution and oil spills, which are bad enough. The biggest “Own Goal” the conservation movemnts are currently scoring is in ignoring the factor of population. It may be said that the balance is maintained by us increasing the amount of fish we’re catching, but the fact is that catches are becoming smaller, fisherman are having to search wider and deeper for new species to supply a growing market.

    As the big fish are taken, remaining fish sizes are getting smaller and smaller, meaning younger and younger fish taken, often before reaching sexual maturity, and therefore before they’ve had a chance to reproduce. Numbers fall further and the tiny, uncatchable baitfish that middle and low predators feed on may then thrive to plague proportions, gobbling up unprecidented amounts of plankton. Yes, there is control of sorts in place, but only until we have totally raped the oceans of catchable fish.

    Lets look at giving the balance back.
    Save our top predators such as cetaceans and sharks.
    Control our fisheries and expand our marine reserves.
    Give the seas a chance to recover their stocks.
    Stop dumping our waste into the seas.
    Preserve our oceans.

    Thanks, MarkV

  41. I’ve trained and handled animals, mostly marine mammals, but have also enjoyed extensive work with assorted terrestrial and avion critters. Back in the 1970’s I was even one of those responsible for capturing and placing animals in captivity. As the industries care and husbandry skills have honed through the decades it’s captive population, particularly in the U.S., has essentially become self sustaining. In many instances producing a surplus of animals that enable sales to new start up aquariums and dolphinariums throughtout the world. The industies impact on wild population is far less than it once was and continues to improve. Think about this; back in the 1950’s when the very first oceanariums were starting up, before “The Discovery Channel”, before “The National Geographic Channel”, before “Animal Planet”, and all the other great modern day resources for exploring our earth and it’s inhabitants from the comfort of our living rooms, how did we learn about alien habitats such as the ocean and the myriad creatures within it? Many of the children who, back then, peered through glass at countless colorful fishes, and gazed in wide-eyed amazemant from the bleachers as assorted cetacea and pinniped performed extraordinary things, are now the adults working to protect the environment and insure the well-being of wild populations.
    This due largely to those emotionally engrained experiences as children. Regardless of how one may view animals in captivity, back then as well as now they are living breathing ambassadors for their species. Can anyone argue the fact that the experience of seeing exotic animals up close and personal is more enduring and inspiring for a child than watching a commercial interupted episode of “The Discovery Channel”. How about all those third world children without the spoiled luxury of 200 cable channels? Perhaps they may be fortunate enough to have a small facility near enough that, with some luck and the aid of a school or community program will enable a visit that could educate and inspire one, maybe more, to take up arms against environment and species depletion. Whether or not the head strong activists out there want to admit it, there is great value in maintaining captive animals, including but not limited to; education(straightforward as well as through entertainment) and research involving all manner of environmental and life issues. Addressing the activists once again, continue and strengthen your efforts against the trophy hunters, the heartless poachers, and the periphery industries and people who support such madness. Leave the keepers, trainers, and wranglers of the world alone. I can tell you from over thirty years of first hand experience we have far more knowledge about, love for, and concern about our animals then you can ever imagine. Of course I’m speaking of only the good and honest ones.
    Oh yea, to the individual who questioned whether John Valentine was even an animal trainer…. he was and still is amongst the very best. God speed Alexis. You are missed by man and animal alike.
    PS. tursiops and Raini, thumbs up!
    PSS. Johnny V, I love you man.

  42. Wow.As always when marine mammals are involved, lots of emotion involved here, and an appalling lack of factual information. First of all RIP, Alexis; I did not know you but have heard you were a good trainer and good person. The anti-captivity zealots who smear your memory will get what they deserve via karma.

    There is one individual on here in particular who is the equivalent of a FoxNews Teabagger holding up the sign reading “MORAN” (sic), screaming with self-righteous piety about Obama being Hitler AND a Communist at the same time. I grow so weary of the loud and inane who call others names and declare that these complex issues are black-and-white.

    It is the zoological community that is most heavily involved with captive breeding of ENDANGERED species to replenish endangered populations in the wild, and every wildlife biologist knows that there is always an “acceptable mortality rate” in such repopulation projects. Orcas are NOT endangered at this point, but certain populations are heading that way. The Keiko release was an absolute failure, as everyone who knew anything about orcas knew would happen. It was a classic case of an “agenda” driving a release; this was the most human-oriented puppy dog of an orca that anyone ever met, which those who cared for him were vociferous about…only to be replaced by those who would bite their tongues or who didn’t know any better.

    “The Cove” shines the spotlight on an absolutely horrendous fishery practice, which I applaud. But the film was hijacked by the agenda of the anti-captivity proponents, who completely skew the purpose for these drive fisheries. These have been occurring for over a hundred years in Taiji and Iki, LONG before any oceanariums appeared. Yes, some oceanariums do take animals from the drive fisheries for their collections, but this is NOT the reason for the drive fisheries. Think about it: you are appalled by bullfighting in Spain or Mexico. You go to a bull farm that supplies them to the arenas, and buy two of them to spare their lives. You have just done business with the “evil” people, yet saved two lives of the bulls you care about. Or you buy two pit bulls from a dogfighting operation….how evil does that make you? And in Japan, any oceanarium MUST obtain their dolphins from the drive fisheries, per the federal government.

    In the US, we have had dolphins performing for us for generations now, since the 1930’s, yet even in the 1960’s, orcas were used for target practice by our navy. The Marine Mammal Protection Act was not passed until 1972, yet we now sit in judgment of other countries’ lack of insight about the “specialness” of marine mammals. It takes time; the Japanese and other Asian oceanariums deserve the same grace periods to turn their cultural ideas around.

    Now not all oceanariums are created equal; US facilities in particular are capable of supplying marine mammals with top-flight care. But I want to throw down a challenge to the anti-captivity folks: go volunteer for a rehab group. Go see what the oceans have become. Go watch marine mammals, turtles, birds wash ashore needing help due to human trash or activities. Spend some time on the beach with a few dozen stranded pilot whales. Gain some perspective on just how hard it is for these animals to survive out there. We are turning our oceans into sewers and garbage dumps, and this Sesame Street image of this ideal, peaceful habitat where marine animals live in harmony and good health is severely outdated. And also, look into the VERIFIED sightings of released cetaceans; people can claim anything, including seeing UFO’s and Elvis. Short-term rehab and release of stranded cetaceans is difficult enough; doing it for long-term captive animals is a fantasy and a fallacy. Seriously. Don’t just take their word for it. Cetaceans are not terrestrial animals.

    Oh, and another shout-out to John Valentine….Hell YES, he da man!

  43. Where the heck did all these pro-cap trainers just appear from?

    I still don’t support captivity, at all. It is absolutely not right to keep an animal confined (this goes for all animals, not just whales and dolphins)

    They evolved over billions of years to live in the ocean, not a tank! Fine, tell me to go hug a tree john, I don’t really care. This is what I believe in, and if you believe something else, good for you.

    And by the way, all your claims of being trainers have very little proof, so really, I don’t believe any of you.

  44. Oh god.
    Before any of you people start debating this issue, you might want to do a little RESEACH first. All the Loro Parque orcas were BORN at SeaWorld. They have not had “their freedom stolen from them”, or want to “go back to the wild”. I’ll give you their names, go look them up:

  45. i think you are all sad and are missing the point, a man died he had family very sad WHATS MORE TO THE POINT what the hell are these trainers doing. whales are not a game.You should not play who can do the best flip and with ypur trainer, It sick sick we live it 2010 why why do we need these places like loro paque. hey its only thick and stupid people that think that should be kept open, they take there kids there and can u believe it think they will learn from such amazing whales and dolphines. MM THERE STUPID.what killer whale do u see doing a double flip in the wild mm yes it did it for a bit of fish the trainer gave it.ANYONE THAT LIKE THIS CONDITION FOR THEESE POOR MAMALS are well not humane. Dolphines and whales nee to stay wild and not do these gross tricks Sick it is

  46. ps there is so much on the net to learn do we really need these life sick showsx

  47. Emily’s response there just sums up all the anti-captivity fanatics on this post-selective hearing, the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “LA LA LA” at the things you don’t want to hear or rather the FACTS that don’t support your OPINION. You think you have the moral high ground and speak the truth about this issue when all you can say is, “you can’t prove you’re trainers, so you’re not”, I could say “you can’t prove these orcas don’t prefer these tanks, so they do”

  48. Yer im sure they’d prefer to be in a concrete tank, and get slaved to do shows everyday rather than have a whole ocean to swim in and do what ever they feel like, shut up Emily, its wrong.

  49. No wait Emily, is right Ash should shut up.

  50. Ha way to prove that you’re the intelligent one here

  51. Also why are you under the impression they are “slaved” to do these shows? They are asked to do behaviours in return for a reward, they are quite pleasantly offered a bribe, not blackmailed or as you put it “slaved”

  52. These parks are not safe havens for these creatures. They are artificial environments created by corporations who care about 1 thing. Money. Go out and rent “The Cove” it shows exactly the sort of operations these places are. They are not saving these whales, they are exploiting them for a profit. Period.

  53. AMEN….

  54. iv got to be honest i was quite shocked when i read this, you can clearly tell it was an accident, iv seen how these people work with orcas and dolphins they are very much dedicated to the animals as the animals are to them its not as if they just go out to sea and pick a couple and put them in captivaty they are rescued if a whale was not happy and wanted to attack and didnt want to do what the trainer wanted to do it wouldnt they would show there un happy!!! its a very sad thing what happened to this man its not the whales fault or the trainers its just a freak accident .

  55. The cove, whilst raising a very valid point about the plight of the dolphins in Taiji, when it comes to the training element of the documentary is just Ric O’Barry, a man as hated as PETA (and if you stick up for PETA then you don’t have any valid opinion on animal welfare), spouting his own guilty conscience because one of the animals he cared for committed suicide, do you see many seaworld orcas committing suicide? How about the fact that it may be Ric O’Barry that was at fault, not captivity itself…

  56. Also, Sarah Mearns is correct, we should not be debating captivity on a post about a man’s tragic, ACCIDENTAL death. We should pay our respects and not slander his memory

  57. these orcas are slaves the poor animals are starved if they dont do the so called trick they don’t get fed there also going isane by attacking each other and attacking humans which they would not be doing in the wild. and they kill themselfs. for this happening i blame the people not the orca if he was free he would not have done this.

  58. ha omg you people are retarded, do some research before you make up this crap, none of the orcas are starved they are fed regardless of doing the behaviour, if they are full they are rewarded for behaviours with ice, water hose sprays amongst other things, so they can actually get full not starved, they on rare occasions attack trainers as they are still predators, no other reason, they just have off days, same goes for the VERY RARE occasions when they attack each other, and they never, NEVER kill themselves. You say the orca wouldn’t have done this if he was free, well yeah, because he wouldn’t have been near people… not for any other reason such as the hatred you claim he has for people which they clearly don’t as they have a very special bond with their trainers, or they wouldn’t let them sit on their backs for long periods of time. Seriously do some research or don’t comment.

  59. This was such a terrible accident and I believe that this is all it was.
    However I don’t agree with keeping orcas or dolphins in captivity and doing shows.
    I would never and have never taken my 10 yr old daughter to see any of these shows.
    She has seen whales and dolphins in the wild on boat trips and I would rather her see them in their habitat not one that has been made for them and not doing tricks but just living among their own kind.
    To me it just seems wrong to keep such a beautiful intelligent animal in a small enclose for us to look at.
    I do not know all the facts on keeping them in captivity, it is just my opinion.
    My condolences to all Alexis family and friends, I’m sure he was a great trainer and cared for the animals. It is a great shame that this accident happened.

  60. Selina, I completely respect everything you have just said, thank you for finally giving a respectable, non-fallacious perspective from someone who is anti-captivity.

  61. Ummm…once again, if you knew the people in that article like some of us do, you’d have a different opinion. Funny how once people burn bridges, bungle and then abandon research projects, and can’t get a job in the field anymore, turn into anti-captivity activists. The woods are full of them….

  62. i cannot believe what some of you lot have been saying. first of all my condolences to all the family who have lost a loved one.
    i would just like to say it might not be an ideal environment for these animals but they are much better off in a place like this as what happens in their own environment? they are killed or suffocate. if they were in that much pain or didnt like it, it wouldnt have been one trainer that has tragically died. they would kill and attack all of the trainers. have any of you actually been there? no i bet you havent. i have been several times and before the orcas even went there. these people/trainers are lovely. they made their best efforts to get this place set up right for the orcas. if they were treated so badly like one of you lot said being starved for not doing something correct then im sure this would have been promoted by the press as they would have died dont you think? you people that have been talking badly about the trainers dont know a thing.

  63. I have just came back from a visit at this Loro Parque and noticed that big whales fin was really collapased, thats all I could look at thru the show !!!!!
    Quite sad….

  64. STACY, if you were listening to the show you would know that a male whale fin is very heavy and unless the whale spends a very long time at deep depths it bends over

  65. One quick comment – I hope all you preachers on either side of the argument who profess to love and care about animals and cruel treatment of them can honestly say that you all do what you can to have no part in animal cruelty. By that i mean that you are ALL vegetarian and refuse to buy leather products…. oh no hang on most of you on here eat meat and therefore are HUGELY cruel to animals. So before you go bashing on animal trainers take a long look at yourself in the mirror and then we will see if you really are a self aware being!! Get your priorities straight.

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