Free Markets, Free People


Predators being predators

Or in the case of the orca at SeaWorld, dolphins being dolphins.

I guess I’m always surprised at the surprise generated by a predator in captivity still acting like a predator.  The death of the trainer at SeaWorld while tragic certainly didn’t surprise me.  Here, read this:

Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, employing teeth that can be four inches (ten centimeters) long. They are known to grab seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.

Now there are all kinds of theories as to why the “killer whale” did what it did, to include one which says it was just playing.

That could be, but whatever the reason it was an animal acting like it should. It kills things and eats them. It doesn’t moralize about what is or isn’t “good” or “evil”. It does what it is hard wired to do without thinking about it and certainly without concerning itself with the consequences. It certainly isn’t unreasonable to expect such an animal to act like it should.

Putting a 12,000 pound predatory mammal in a small tank and expecting it to be civilized, entertaining and safe because you’ve given it some training and feed it is what is unreasonable. While I regret the trainer’s death, I don’t blame the orca. And I have a sneaking suspicion the trainer wouldn’t either.

Which brings us to this:

Tilikum, nicknamed “Tilly,” is valuable to SeaWorld as a breeder and already has fathered several offspring, says dolphin-trainer-turned-activist Russ Rector of Fort Lauderdale.

“Tilikum is a monster. This is his third killing,” Rector says.

No Tilikum isn’t a monster. That’s a moral accusation that has no basis in reality.  If Tilikum was in the wild, he might be on his 3,000th killing.  And not a single one of the killings would have anything to do with morality.  Tilikum is a predator – and predators acting like predators aren’t doing anything immoral. They’re just doing what comes naturally.